What are you wearing part 2
Ephesians 4 verses 17 to 32 can be divided into two sections. Verses 17 to 24, deal with our new spiritual condition as followers of Jesus. As Christians we put off the old self and put on Christ as a new creation, daily asking the Holy Spirit to help us in the renewing of our minds.
Verses 25 to 32 address the practical aspects of living as a new creation. How to live a life that conforms to the purposes of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit.
When we become followers of Jesus, we learn how to replace sinful habits with holy habits by the process of the renewing of our minds (Ephesians 4:23 and 24).
The list of sinful actions that we find in these verses are not an exhaustive list, and the Apostle Paul probably has some specific people he is addressing in the church. But he doesn’t simply have a list of things we should not do, he also gives the positive alternative and the theological reasons for these new behaviors or habits. As followers of Jesus, we must know the reason why certain behaviors are detrimental to our lives and the reason why we should make better behavioral choices. As we know, Christianity is not simply a lifestyle made up of rules and regulations, but rather it is based on a relationship with our loving Heavenly Father through His son, Jesus.
The behavior choices that Paul addresses are as follows:
1:Replace lying with Truth-telling (v25).
We speak the truth to each other because we are all part of the same body. God’s people are to be truth-tellers. But there is more to this; in verse 15, Paul encourages the church to, “speak the truth in love”, and in verse 21, we read that, “the truth is in Jesus”. As followers of Jesus, we are to be constantly talking about the person who is truth personified.
When we encourage one another by talking about Jesus, we are not simply pointing out sin, we are pointing to the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
2: Replace unrighteous anger with righteous anger (v26-27).
Anger itself is not sinful. Anger is part of the nature of God. God is angered by sin, and as His children we too should feel anger when we encounter sinful injustice (Mark 1).
Unrighteous anger is rooted in selfish motives and leads to violence, jealousy, envy and even murder. The Apostle Paul encourages us to quickly repent of our unrighteous anger and humbly ask for forgiveness to those we have wronged. This takes humility and dying to our own selfish pride. Someone has once said, “don’t go to bed with unresolved conflict or else you will sleep with the Devil”. Always seek reconciliation and forgiveness quickly.
3: Replace stealing with working and giving (v28).
We are created to work, and work is a gift from God to give us fulfilment and purpose in life. Even Jesus worked hard as a carpenter. The Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonian church that those who don’t work, shouldn’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
But we don’t simply work to eat or amass riches, we work to be able to give generously to anyone in need. John Wesley said, “Work as hard as you can, make as much as you can, then give as much as you can”. Those who have lived this way, know the secret of a truly fulfilled life.
4: Replacing corrupt talk with edifying talk (v29-30).
The translated word for corrupt or foul language in verse 29, is the same word used for rotting food. Sinful language does not nourish and leads to a stench. Sadly, Christians have accepted gossip and slander, even vulgar joking as acceptable. The fruit of such language leads to sickness in the Body of Christ. See what Jesus said about careless speech in Matthew 12:36.
The Apostle Paul adds in verse 30 that we must not grieve the Holy Spirit. Anything that we say that does not align with the Holy Spirit’s holiness, grieves Him. As we are careless with our speech, we will gradually experience the withdrawal of the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is a good practice to ask the following question, “Will what I am about to say or do please the Spirit or grieve the Spirit”.
It is the renewed life of Christ in us that leads us to affirm, encourage and build one another up. We should make a habit of only saying about people what we would say to them.
5: Replacing bitterness and rage with kindness and forgiveness (v 31-32).
These verses speak directly to our emotional outbursts, the way we behave when we have reached our “limit”. There is never an excuse for such behavior.
In the place of these outbursts, we should “put on” kindness and forgiveness. The Body of Christ should be a people known for kindness and forgiveness, because of the immeasurable kindness and forgiveness that God has shown us (See Romans 2:4 and Psalm 145:8).
One of the most powerful verses on forgiveness in the Bible is verse 32, “…forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” We have absolutely no right to harbor unforgiveness towards anyone, because of the infinite debt that we have been forgiven in Christ.
As we go through this week, let us meditate on the love, forgiveness, and kindness of Jesus towards us. It will change the way we speak, behave, and respond. It will make us more like Jesus.
So, are you wearing Christ? Are you living out your identity as a follower of Jesus for the good of others and for the glory of God?