Summary: 37th in a series from Ephesians addressing a change in behavior for those who embrace Christ.
I. Our Wealth and Worth In Christ 1-3
II. Our Worthy Walk in Christ 4-6
A. Live in Unity 4:1-16
B. Live in Newness of life 4:17-24
C. Live in Love 4:17-24
1. Speak truth not falsehood 4:25
2. Be angry without sinning 4:26-27
3. Stop stealing but work with your hands to give 4:28
4. Speak with your mouth to encourage and energize not demoralize 4:29
5. Stop grieving the Holy Spirit 4:30
God continually works in our lives to bring us to the point where we not only do the things that please Him but actually want to do them. His will becomes our will. That which pleases Him, also pleases us. After six weeks of eating healthier, I am actually coming to the point where I actually enjoy the taste of healthier food. Sometimes changing tastes is a process.
That process may even reach a point of neutrality. We may neither feel good or bad following God’s ways. As we keep at it, life lived according to God’s ways eventually becomes our delight. David prayed that God would lead in in the “ruts” of righteousness. We will eventually find ourselves saying, “I delight to do Your will O God.” Jesus told His disciples that His food (what sustained Him) was doing His Father’s will.
Paul now expands on how God’s love is supposed to operate in God’s new community.
Part of not grieving the Holy Spirit is to live in love and harmony rather than hostility.
Living in love requires that we deal with the hostile feelings toward others that rise up in us from time to time. God’s community thrives on an others-centered philosophy. God’s community is all about love and harmony, unity and cooperation. Paul returned to a negative/positive pattern of teaching. He first gave a list of negative things to be purged followed by a list of positive things to be practiced. The things Paul listed are similar to clothes or uniforms that identify people with a particular group or organization.
You see the clothes; you automatically associate that person with a certain group. Each of the branches of military service can be clearly identified by their uniform. You can spot a policeman by his uniform. You can identify a fireman by the clothes he wears. Bikers, doctors, nurses, businessmen, priests, sports teams can all be identified by the clothes they wear.
Paul advocates discarding of the clothes of the old Kingdom and donning of the new Kingdom clothes. You might say the soldiers need to strip down and suit up.
Take away instruction for the next two weeks…
As dearly loved children of God’s family we must eliminate all hostility and embrace harmony.
All of us have experience a hostile moment or environment wither at home or in the work place. It is uncomfortable. It robs us of the joy. The dissonance eats away at us, divides us, hinders creativity, and stirs negative emotions. Dissonance is part of life in a rebellious world.
It does currently play an important role by illustrating the relief caused by its resolve.
6. Let God purge the hostility within us 4:31
Everyone is familiar with broken relationships, hostile interaction, heated arguments, and downright hurtful behavior between people. God’s intent for His community is different.
He requires harmony over hostility, love over lashing out, cooperation over conflict.
Paul has issued a whole string of present active tense commands all through this passage.
Only here does he switch the flavor of the verb. Rather than an active verb, which indicates an action done BY ME, he employs a passive verb, which indicates an action done TO ME.
All the other commands have been things that we were supposed to do or change. This command has to do with us allowing someone or something else to do the action. Paul assembles a list of six relationship killers that need to be eliminated from our lives; six toxins to community life. Each one is a bit different but all of them share a common element with each of the others. Every one of them has to do with relational dysfunction and broken community. Each one of them has to do with hostility rather than harmony between people.
All of them are the result or outworking of a hard or self-centered heart.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:31
These things are all the result of a heart condition that only God can address in our life. We must cooperate with him. We must invite Him to accomplish the work in us. We cannot get rid of them without His supernatural work in the core of our soul. Just as we could not save ourselves, neither can we live the Christian life without His work. We must fully cooperate with him in the transformation of our relationships and the removal of selfish hostility still lurking in the soul.