Summary: Examining the process of sanctification in light of what Paul writes in the book of Ephesians
The Way to Change
Text: Ephesians 4:25-28
By: Ken McKinley
As we continue on with our study of the Book of Ephesians we remember that last time we talked about how God expects us to change. God expects us, and even commands us to change. He tells us to put off the old self and put on the new. And in our text we are told several ways to know if we are doing that.
Paul tells us to stop lying, to not engage in sinful anger, to give no place to the devil, to not steal, and to watch what we say. Now to command those things is easier to do them, but if you remember last time we talked about how you and I can’t do these things unless we are in Christ. We also talked about how we can’t just get rid of something and not fill the void that that thing; whatever it was, left when we got rid of it.
So Paul says, “Put off lying,” but then he goes on to say, “Let each one of you speak the truth to your neighbor.” Why? Because we are all members of one body. You would think that after 2000 years of Christian teaching, we would know better than to go around telling lies. But in our world, lying has become more and more common place. Commercials lie to us, politicians lie to us, bankers lie to us, lawyers lie to us, huge corporate business owners lie to us, even pastors – when they are caught in scandals, will twist the truth this way and that.
There is no more thorough way to destroy a person’s character than to lie about them. Even if it is shown to be a lie, people often don’t remember the truth. Our news papers focus on this, when a damaging fact comes out about someone it makes the front page, but if that so called fact turns out to be a lie, then the truth is relegated to the 20th page, in a section that is usually not read. So Paul tells us that we should put off lying, and that we should tell the truth to one another.
In Colossians 3:9 Paul command us not to lie because of the exchange which has taken place. It says, “Do not lie to one another, since you’ve put off the old man with his deeds.” In other words, he is saying that you are in Christ now, and lying does not reflect the character of the Lord. In essence, that’s why we tell the truth – because it reflects the character of God. God is not a man that He should lie.
We lie to impress people, we lie to please people, we lie to please ourselves, we lie to get revenge, we lie to escape punishment, and very rarely do we tell a lie in order to protect someone. In most of those instances we see that a lie is something to make ourselves likable and comfortable.
Now the last one I mentioned, lying to protect people… that’s a tricky one. Rahab the harlot lied to protect the spies. But we need to remember that Rahab was a new believer, she didn’t have an understanding that a mature Christian should have. So in a sense God winked at her ignorance. Daniel on the other had was a mature Christian, and he was put into several positions where lying would’ve been to his advantage, but he trusted in the Lord, and told the truth. David also was more mature in his faith, and when he lied, he suffered the consequences.
We are responsible for what we know. And if we know that God is all powerful and that He can deliver us from affliction, trouble, danger, or whatever, we should not sin in order to escape those things, but instead trust in Him and leave it up to Him to resolve things.
Let’s go on to verse 26 – “Be angry and sin not. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.” This is actually two commands, or two pieces of advice.
Tolerance is the word of our times, but anger seems to be the emotion of choice. But our text tells us that we can be angry and not sin. This tells me that there is a place for anger. I’m sure we’ve all heard or read in the Bible where Jesus chased the money lenders out of the temple. There are times when anger is the proper response.
The early church fathers said it this way, “He who is not angry when he has cause to be, sins. Unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices; it fosters negligence and incites not only the wicked but also the good to do wrong.”