Summary: Anger, our speech and forgiveness - all things we need to work on with God's help as we put off the old self and put on the new.
Last week when we covered Ephesians 4:17-24 we talked about our new life. That when we become Christians there ought to be change. We need to leave behind the life we once lived, the life we lived as unbelievers and we need to put off the old self
and put on the new. We spoke about the contrast of this and that the Bible uses pretty strong language to describe the difference between the old way of life and the new way of life. And we looked at whose job this is, to change. Gods or ours. And we realised that its both. Its God that makes the new self, but we are commanded to take off the old self and put on the new self.
Last week we had a look at theme generally. You could say we looked at the theory. But now we get in to the practical stuff, what it means on the ground. From now on, until almost the end of the book of Ephesians, its all about where the rubber hits the road in everyday, practical living. And today in Ephesians 4:25-5:2, we look at relationships anger and kindness, stealing and work, pure speech and worthless speech, bitterness and forgiveness. More contrasts more extremes.
But before we launch in, I need to prepare you. So far in Ephesians, Pauls talked in generalities. In the first few chapters he talked about what Christ had done for us. Yes, we talked about how we were sinners. Thats a pretty direct statement, that we are sinners. But it was in very general terms. Theres not too much room to be offended by that, when things are in general terms. Even last week we talked about the stark contrast between the old way of life and the new, and some of you may have found that challenging. But even so, it was in generalities. But now we are going to launch into specifics. Today we talk about relationships, anger, stealing, working, speaking badly, bitterness, unforgivenss. And it gets worse. Next Sunday Ill be on holidays, but the one after, well be talking about specific sins: sexual immorality, crude joking, greed, drinking. Were going to cover sins that most of us, perhaps all of us, have done and perhaps are still doing. And it is quite likely that some of you may be offended by some of the topics that come up and that could well happen today as we talk about anger, our speech, laziness, bitterness and unforgiveness. So as we do cover these verses, I want to ask you to bear with me. Firstly, if I say something that is hard hitting, a bit hard to take, remember Im not trying to offend but merely doing my best to explain the Bible and what it means to us today. And if you hear something today or the next few weeks that is challenging, remember that you are here today in church, I hope because you want to learn more about what God says to us through the Bible. And sometimes the Bible exposes things in our lives that are uncomfortable and that we need to deal with. So today and the next few weeks, if the Bible says something, if it addresses some sin in your life, I urge you to do what the Bible says and do something about it. Im here to help you too, to counsel, pray with you through it. But do do something about it.
So lets jump in to our passage today. Our passage today talks about how we relate to each other. It talks about it in three areas:
1. In the area of of anger. It tells us to control our anger, how to deal with our anger
2. In the area of our speech. This includes, telling the truth and speaking in a wholesome way that builds others up and doesnt pull them down.
3. It tells us not to hold onto bitterness but to forgive.
Of course all these are inter-related. Anger leads to words said, words that wound, or words as a result of our wounds. Words in turn from others that are untrue, hurtful, lead to anger on our part. And this anger, unresolved, can lead to bitterness, unforgiveness, fractured relationships. Which leads to to sin and to grieving the Holy Spirit and threatening our own relationship with God. So this is important
the stakes are high.
Our passage starts with verse 25, which deals with our speech.
EPH 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
This is a continuation of last week - putting off the old self, putting on the new. Now we are told to put off falsehood. The word here literally means, lie. That is dont lie anymore, but rather speak the truth. This is especially so in the church, because again in this verse Paul refers to the body. That doesnt mean its okay to lie to people outside the church - certainly not! We must speak the truth to everyone! But he is mainly concentrating on the church here, and we can see that because in this verse he talks about one body, again saying that we are members of one body, members of one church.