Summary: Put aside lying, sinful anger, thievery, and unwholesome words for the sake of the brethren and because of forgiveness.
June 6, 2010
Last week we ended our study of Ephesians with Paul saying,
In reference to your former manner of life, […] lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23and […] be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph. 4:22-24).
The main idea is that as believers and children of God we’re to repent of sin and walk according to the new manner of life in the Spirit in the likeness of God. We don’t walk with the world in one hand and Christ in the other; we lay aside the old way, and we fully embrace our new self which is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
This week we continue our study of Ephesians in…
Last week we saw that we’re to lay aside the old way, and this week we’re going to get more specific. What’s expected of believers? What does it mean to lay aside the old self? To answer this we’re going to look at the new self:
1. The new self walks in truth rather than falsehood (:25)
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.
“Therefore” points back to the verses we read in the introduction. Because you put on the new self which is created in the likeness of God and has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth, lay aside falsehood.
I have a picture in my mind of a man holding falsehood in his hand and then making the decision to lay it down. Righteousness takes a conscious effort.
On the one hand there’s resting in Christ and letting the fruit of the Holy Spirit grow in you; on the other hand there’s a decision made to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.
On the one hand the battle is won and we’re no longer slaves to sin (Rom. 6:2), but on the other hand we’re stuck in these wretched bodies of death (Rom. 7:24) which make war against the new nature (Rom. 7:18).
We must decide to lay aside the sin in our hands. In this case we’re to lay aside falsehood.
Jesus says that whenever Satan “speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44).
By contrast, Jesus says that He is the truth (Jn. 14:6) and Scripture says that God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2) because in Him there is no darkness (I Jn. 1:5).
As Gentiles we walked in minds that were futile, darkened, and ignorant (Eph. 4:17-19).
We were once far off (Eph. 2:13), but now we’re “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3-14). We’re no longer subjected to the will of Satan or the world (Eph. 2:2), and we’re no longer considered Gentiles. We’re part of the body of Christ (“for we are members of one another”) and so we’re to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. By doing so we’ll “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
2. The new self walks in controlled anger and forgiveness rather than sinful anger (:26-27)
26BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not give the devil an opportunity.
We can’t miss the fact that anger isn’t ruled out. Anger, the same as passion or ambition or any other emotion, is God-given. But look at what’s written:
“Be angry, and yet do not sin.”
Paul doesn’t give us a list of things we can and can’t do in our anger; he only says, “Do not sin.” Right away I assume this means that we’ll be quiet and meek and hold our hands to our sides and look at the floor with an expression of peace, right?
And yet, Jesus physically assaulted the money-changers with a whip and turned over their tables (Jn. 2:15). Scripture says of Him, “Zeal for your house consumes Me” (Jn. 2:17). When Jesus saw those men blaspheming God and robbing the worshipers, He was consumed by zeal which showed itself in fury.
However, when the Israelites got into fights during their fasts, God described them as striking each other with “wicked fists” (Is. 58:4).
Or take Phineas: when he impaled the Israelite man and the Midianite woman for flaunting their forbidden relationship, God not only stopped the plague which was killing the Israelites, He established a covenant of peace and a perpetual priesthood with Phineas! (Num. 25:7-13).
But, when Peter cut off the man’s ear on the night Jesus was arrested, he was rebuked by Jesus for his violence (Jn. 18:10-11).