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The Cultivation of Holiness (Ephesian 4:25–32)
Supporting Idea: Living like the person you have become means incorporating a formidable list of specific actions into your daily life.
Ephesian 4:25–32 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let the one who steals steal no more; but rather, let him labor, working with his own hands what is good, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and abusive words be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
4:25. First we are to stop lying. To be taught the truth in Jesus (v. 21) means to make truth telling a habit of life. We cannot attempt to fool or deceive one another as pagans do. We must create unity in the body with one truth because we are members of one another.
4:26–27. Sometimes a Christian may legitimately become angry. Jesus became angry at times. In those times we must be extra careful how we act, for anger gives no excuse to sin. Sinning in anger would include things such as saying unkind things or acting in harmful ways toward others. We may not always be able to keep from getting angry, but we can keep from sinning when we do. When we do get angry, we should deal with it before the day is through.
When we allow our anger to become sin or when we allow ourselves to keep our anger for more than a day, it gives the devil an opportunity to gain control over our attitudes, our actions, and our relationships. It gives him a foothold to lead us into greater anger and more sin.
4:28. Christians are not to steal. Stealing, in its most obvious form is, either by deception or force, taking the possession of someone else. In all civilizations, stealing is considered wrong. It is a timeless and universal value. Inherently, no one wants his possessions taken from him. We have no difficulty understanding or agreeing with this command at its most obvious level.
Rather than steal, we are to work. Work has benefits. (1) It is good. It allows a person to meet his own needs and the needs of his family. It allows him to do something meaningful with his time and to make a contribution to society. (2) Work allows a person to be able to give something to others who have needs. Rather than steal from others, work allows a person to give something to others. (3) Work allows a person to support financially the advancement of the kingdom of God. Working is thus a sign of Christian faithfulness, maturity, and unity.
4:29. This is the Bible’s version of, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” We are to speak only words that build up and encourage others. This one passage, if consistently obeyed, would eliminate the overwhelming majority of life’s conflicts. Words of a mature Christian seek to help the listener, not harm him. Thus the ministerial gifts of Christ’s grace achieve their purposes, and the unity of the body of Christ is preserved and enhanced.
4:30. Not to limit speech to wholesome, helpful words makes the Holy Spirit feel grief because of our behavior. We are not saying that you can never say anything negative. Sometimes we are forced to talk about unpleasant things, particularly in solving problems in which people are involved. Teachers, ministers, employers, coaches, lawyers, police, and so on, all find it necessary to tell the truth about someone even if it is unpleasant. Whether you are solving a problem or not, you avoid speaking unwholesome words. Your intent is to build up, not tear down, to unify, not divide.
4:31–32. Christians are to “put away” five sins: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander. In their place, they are to “put on” three virtues: kindness, tender-heartedness, and forgiveness. Because God acts this way toward us, we should act this way toward others. Then the church will be built up, the people will be holy, and Christ’s body will be unified.
Main Idea Review: You should live like the one you have become. Live in unity and mutual ministry with others and in holiness before God.
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