Summary: Ephesians 4:25-32 teaches us how Christians build up Christ’s body, based on what is true of them as Christians.
Today I am concluding my sermon series in Ephesians 4:17-32 that I am calling, “The New Life.”
Ephesians 4:17-32 may be divided into three sections. In verses 17-19, the Apostle Paul describes the non-Christian life. In verses 20-24, the Apostle Paul describes the Christian life. And in verses 25-32, our text for today, the Apostle Paul teaches Christians what is involved in living the Christian life.
We have previously examined, very briefly, the non-Christian life (4:17-19) and the Christian life (4:20-24). Today, I would like to examine, also very briefly, what it means to live as a Christian. In verses 25-32, the Apostle Paul teaches Christians how to build up Christ’s body, based on what is true of them as Christians, as new creations in Christ.
Let’s read about living the Christian life in Ephesians 4:25-32:
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 do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, 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 slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:25-32)
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a marvelous letter about how God has reconciled unsaved sinners to himself through Jesus Christ and, furthermore, how God has united all Christians from all different ethnicities into one body, the Church of Jesus Christ. Having given the theological foundation for this glorious truth, Paul writes about the nitty-gritty of Christian behavior. He describes for those who have a new life in Christ how to live the Christian life. But before we dive into the five examples that he gives us in this chapter, following Dr. John Stott, we need to notice three features that are common to them all.
First, each example concerns our relationships with each other. The Christian life is not lived in a cocoon. We live out our new lives in Christ in relationship to God and to one another. We grow in Christlikeness in our relationships to one another.
Second, each example has a negative prohibition followed by a corresponding positive command. It is not enough to put off the old self; we must put on the new self. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Christians have a new nature, and they must stop doing what characterized their old nature, and must start doing what is characteristic of their new nature.
And third, each example has a reason for the command that is either stated or implied. Paul gives theological reasons for the new behavior that is to characterize the new life in Christ. And as Christians live their new lives in Christ, they are building up the body of Christ, that is, the church.
Ephesians 4:25-32 teaches us how Christians build up Christ’s body, based on what is true of them as Christians.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. Replace Falsehood with Truth-Telling (4:25)
2. Replace Unrighteous Anger with Righteous Anger (4:26-27)
3. Replace Stealing with Honest Work (4:28)
4. Replace Corrupting Talk with Edifying Talk (4:29-30)
5. Replace Sinful Characteristics with Godly Characteristics (4:31-32)
I. Replace Falsehood with Truth-Telling (4:25)
First, replace falsehood with truth-telling.
Paul gave the negative prohibition in verse 25a: “Therefore, having put away falsehood….” The first thing to notices is that Paul said, “… having put away….” The Greek tense is aorist, meaning something that took place in the past with continuing results. So, these new Christians have put away falsehood.
The Greek word for falsehood (pseudos) means “to lie.” Paul’s words were somewhat startling to his audience. Lying was commonplace in Greek culture, as well as in ancient Semitic cultures. When some of these former non-Christians got converted to Jesus Christ, they brought their lying into the church with them. But, Paul made it clear that lying belonged to the old nature and not to the new nature. He wrote the same thing to the Christians in the Colossian church in Colossians 3:9, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.” Clearly, Paul believed that lying was a dominant characteristic of the old self. He was unequivocal in his message that lying did not belong in the church.