Summary: Verses 25-29 give practical examples of our duties in the new life.
Last week we considered what Scripture has to say about our dress code. We are to put off the old self which belongs to our former manner of life; we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds; and we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
I concluded with the story of how a lion tore off the dragon skin of a boy. It was a poignant story, but some of you may have been left thinking, “That was a nice story to read, but, really, what does a life that has put off the old self and put on the new self actually look like.” In other words, what is the practical application? That is what the remainder of the chapter is about.
The apostle Paul, who wrote this letter, gives clear-cut examples of putting-off putting-on actions, even including the use of renewing our minds. In our text for this morning we have four examples.
Lying/Telling the Truth
Verse 25 gives the first example: Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
We have the action of putting off – in this case, falsehood. You will recognize the Greek word – psuedos. It is where we get the term “pseudo.” Put “pseudo in front of another word and we turn something real into something false. And so there is pseudo-science, pseudo-history, pseudo-medicine. Paul has already made reference to “deceitful schemes” in verse 14, where teachers are presenting pseudo-doctrine. In the epistle to the Colossians he speaks of legalistic teaching, which “have indeed an appearance of wisdom,” i.e. pseudo-wisdom, but are of no value.
We engage in such falsehood whenever we promote false teaching and counsel. Someone complains to us about another member of the church. We readily accept what the person says and even encourage that person to get what he or she deserves, rather than helping him to have a clearer or more godly perspective. We spread rumors about matters that we know little about, that we have received only by hearsay or by misconstruing what was said to us. We teach others what is not gospel informed. We put false guilt on others for not living to our legalistic standards, or we lead others to sin by promoting a false freedom to commit immoral behavior.
Instead of wearing falsehood, we are to put on truth-speaking; we are to speak the truth with our neighbor. We are to always lead our neighbor to gospel truth. Our counsel is to be biblically informed. Whether we have warning or assurance to give, it must come from Scripture in light of the gospel. We are not to spread ill-report of others. We are not to rely on hearsay or our so-called ability to “read between the lines” when we report to others supposed news.
Now why? This is the “renewing of our minds” part: “For we are members one of another.” Now we are back to the theme of verses 1-16. We are members of the one body of Jesus Christ. And as members of that body, connected to one another, all that we do is for the purpose of building up the body in love. Falsehood tears down; truth builds up, truth that is spoken and acted upon in love. We have an obligation before the head of this body – our Lord Jesus Christ – to do only what is good for our fellow members of his body. To harm a brother or sister in the Lord is to harm a member of Christ’s body.
So, we are to put off falsehood and put on truth telling for the sake of the body. What is another practical application? Verses 26-27 tells us:
26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.
What are we to put off? Anger? No, but the sin that too often accompanies anger. And we all know about this area, don’t we? Most people do not admit to lying or to the next sin presented, stealing; but most will own up to the guilt of losing their temper and acting in such a way that they now rue. Indeed, they appeal to loss of temper as an excuse for their sin. “I would not have said that if you had not made me so mad!”
Paul is actually quoting Scripture – Psalm 4:4 – with that phrase “be angry and do not sin.” The psalm is quite helpful in understanding how to do the “putting on” part of exercising self-control. That is what is meant by “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” We are not to let our anger stew so that it turns us into ugly and hurtful beings. Consider what Psalm 4 has to teach us about what to do with anger.