Summary: 36th in a series from Ephesians. Why it is so important to put off falsehood in the church.
Last week we saw that Paul described how those who are followers of Jesus Christ are to dress the part based on who they already are in Him. In verses 22-24 of Chapter 4, Paul wrote about how we are to put off of the old man and put on the new man by allowing God to renew our mind. In the next section, Paul is going to go into even more detail on how to apply that passage in some very practical ways. He is going to instruct us to put off our vices and put on our virtues. We’ll see that we are to:
• Put off falsehood and put on truth
• Put off anger and put on reconciliation
• Put off laziness and put on hard work
• Put off words that tear down and put on words that build up
• Put off bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice and put on kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
This morning, we’re going to deal with only one verse. It’s not that this verse is hard to understand. In fact, it’s probably one of the most straight forward verses we’ve encountered in our journey through Ephesians. I am convinced that it is, however, one of the most difficult verses for us to apply within the body of Christ and I have a lot of evidence to support that assertion. Let’s begin by reading this verse out loud together.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Ephesians 4:25 (NIV)
As I said, this verse is very straight forward. In fact, it lends itself quite naturally to a perfect 3 point sermon:
• Put off falsehood
• Put on truth
• Obey these two commands because we’re all members of the same body.
And you know me. I’d love to just give you those three points with a few sub-points and some supporting Scriptures, let you fill in a few blanks on your outline and everything would be all wrapped up nice and tidy. But I’m convinced that wouldn’t really take any of us where we really need to go with this passage. You’ll notice that all you have on your outline today are a few verses we’ll look at and lots of room to make your own notes. I encourage you to make whatever notes you think might be helpful to you, but what I really want you to do today is to listen to what’s on my heart, because I’m convinced that is also what is on God’s heart.
Paul begins by making it clear that if we are to dress the part according to what Jesus has already done for us, that we need to put off falsehood. The word “falsehood” comes from the Greek word from which we get our English prefix “pseudo” which we use to describe something that appears to be genuine, but is not. For instance when someone uses a pseudonym, it is a name that appears to be genuine, but is not.
So when Paul writes that we are to put off falsehood, that word covers a broad variety of things that appear to be genuine, but are not. It goes far beyond just lying, which is how the word is translated in the KJV.
Most of us don’t have problems identifying outright lies. But most falsehood is much more subtle than that. Consider these top ten lies that are a little more subtle:
1. The check is in the mail.
2. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
3. We service what we sell.
4. Give me your number and the doctor will call you right back.
5. Your luggage isn’t lost, it’s only misplaced.
6. Leave your resume and we’ll keep it on file.
7. I just need five minutes of your time.
8. Your table will be ready in a few minutes.
9. Open wide, it won’t hurt a bit.
10. I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.
We laugh a little uneasily at many of those because most of us have either used some of those or we’ve had someone else use them on us. But perhaps even more insidious falsehood occurs when we actually attempt to use true facts to deceive others.
This week I read the story of a captain and his first mate on an oil tanker who were often at odds with each other. One day the first mate, who normally did not drink, became intoxicated. The captain, seeing his chance, entered in the daily log: "Mate drunk today." He knew this was his first offense, but he wanted to get him fired. The mate was aware of his evil intent and begged him to change the record. The captain, however, replied, "It’s a fact, and into the log it goes!" A few days later the mate was keeping the log, and concluded it with: "Captain sober today." Realizing the implications of this statement, the captain asked that it be removed. In reply the first mate said, "It’s a fact, and in the log it stays!"