Peninsula Community Church
February 8, 2015
Ephesians – The Actions of a Passionate Follower of Christ
Ephesians 4:25-32 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
In our message last week, we talked about putting off the old man and putting on the new man as we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds each day. This week, Paul takes an additional step to detail the actions that a passionate follower of Christ should take. As one puts on the new man, change begins to take place. One’s personal, emotional, mental, and relational life begins to change and what is revealed is a different attitude about life and ministry. So what are the actions of a converted man? Let’s look at these together.
First, Paul states that having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. So the first step, as a passionate follower of Christ, is to “put away falsehood.” This is a biggie for Paul and it ought to be a biggie for us. I do not think that it is an accident that Paul begins with this action. Truthfulness is key to living the life of a passionate follower of Christ. The word used here for “lie” is the word “psuedo.” It means anything that is false or counterfeit. Therefore, it is important to note that this idea of falsehood is more than simply telling a lie. It relates to that which is not real or genuine. You see the old man works in deception, but as a new creation in Christ, we must live in honesty and truthfulness.
Putting away falsehood begins by speaking the truth with our neighbor. This begs the question then as in it did in the gospels, “Who is my neighbor?” The answer comes from Jesus’ own words when he presented the parable of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbor is the one that needs mercy. That includes everyone we encounter. The greatest level of mercy we can show is to be truthful in all we do; especially in our actions and in the words we speak.
Secondly, Paul calls for us to be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. In other words, we must deal with our anger in a timely manner. Notice here that the issue is not if we can be angry but on how we deal with our anger that matters most. This is critical because the principle dealt with is that if our anger is not dealt with in a timely manner, it opens the door for the devil to have access to our hearts and to our way of thinking.
The Greek word used for “sin” means to “miss the mark.” You see when we allow anger to control us, our thinking becomes distorted to the point that we can miss the target of God’s way of living. We respond with hatred and bitterness which has deadly outcomes. When we refuse to deal with our anger and we dwell on what others have done to us, our hearts can be filled with malice and bitterness. An angry heart will dictate how we will respond to things in our lives. The reason is that becomes the filter through which everything must go. The fact is when anger is not dealt with, it grows and becomes a monster that controls us. When this occurs, we have in essence opened a door for the devil to control our lives and create more problems.
Third, Paul calls passionate followers of Christ to do honest work. Here is what he said. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Notice that he calls for the thief not to steal any more. He makes this statement in the context of having a great work ethic that is based in honesty. Notice too that he states that the work should be done by our hands.
Paul makes the case here that there is a blessing in working. What is the blessing of working? It is so that we can help others. In being blessed, we become a blessing to others. We can give to the church. We can give to those in need. We can help provide what another cannot provide for themselves. The goal is to assist those in need so they can begin to work. So in doing honest work we are blessed beyond measure.
Fourth, watch your language. Paul says Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. When I was a teenager in church this text was always used as a ban on cursing or swearing but that is not the exact context of this passage. In fact I believe this interpretation misses Paul intent. Paul’s intent was to communicate to the passionate follower of Christ that we should not allow destructive conversations to be a part of our dialogue. Course or destructive talking limits God’s grace in our communication by tearing others down and at times tears them apart. The focus of all of our conversation must be on building others up and not tearing them down. We have been called to be ministers of grace to those who deserve and to those who do not. It should also be noted that there are those who are watching how we handle ourselves. We may not even converse with them and yet they are witnessing grace or a lack of grace being poured out.
Fifth, do not grieve the Holy Spirit. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. This verse suggests that we should avoid grieving the Holy Spirit by actions that tear down rather than build up. We grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not live according to Biblical principles and guidelines established in God’s word. The Holy Spirit is a person and can be grieved when we live outside the parameters that God has established for us. When we live according to the commands of God, we please the Holy Spirit and He is free to work on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is grieved because He sees the potential that is ours to succeed and accomplish great things for God. This is similar to what a mother or father experiences with their children. Paul also states that this is the same Holy Spirit that sealed us for redemption. There is nothing that can rip that from us when walk in a heart filled with repentance.
Sixth, control your inward thoughts. The list of issues here relate to the inner issues of the soul. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. This passage relates back to the original idea of anger but magnifies the outcome of a one who does not seek to control their anger. Look at the words Paul used here. Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander. These are all outcomes of a life where anger has taken control of the heart and spirit of the individual. That is not the life that God wants for us.
Seventh, guard your outward example. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Rather than respond to people and issues with bitterness, wrath, anger or malice we should respond in an opposite spirit and attitude. The measure or level of kindness and forgiveness to be extended to others is measured by how much we have been forgiven through Christ. The measure of the effectiveness of these actions is measured by the forgiveness given to us by God. When we understand the magnitude of forgiveness and how much we have received from God, we should be so ready to enact these things in our life.
As we share these things, I am keenly aware that we falter and fail in accomplishing all of these things at different times in our journey. But that is the beauty of Christ’s forgiveness and His love to us. When we fail, He is gracious to receive us back to Himself. His hand is always extended. It is much like the story of the prodigal son who realizes that life back home was not so bad. Upon this revelation he picked himself up and returned home to a miraculous welcome. He never expected what he received. He would have been content to serve as a slave but instead the father rolled out the red carpet for him because he was his son and he belonged with the family. So when we fail or fall short in the items listed here, we can press on because God is waiting for us at the end of the driveway. He is looking for us to return. He has the robe for us to wear. He has the ring to place on our finger. He lives for forgiveness and so should we.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom