We are tremendously blessed to have copies of the Bible. In our hands we can hold and read the very Word of God. When we take the opportunity to study our Bibles, we find directions and instructions of how God wants us to live. In what we call the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul, by inspiration, described some manners of life that needed to be removed from lives of the Ephesian brethren. Similarly, he also revealed some aspects of life that they should have added. By studying such, we can see the differences in the two lifestyles. Paul wrote, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:17-24). It becomes very obvious that the Christians in Ephesus had some decisions to make. Were they going to continue to live in ways that displeased God, or were they going to make the needed adjustments in their lives? They could not rightfully continue in the ways of the “old man” if they wanted to live faithfully to God. Instead, they had to start living their lives as the “new man”.
It was then that Paul started listing certain things that needed to be removed and things that needed to be added. First of all, it was commanded, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25). It is amazing how accepted lying has become in our society. Just because it is done by so many does not lessen its seriousness. The Bible still records that “…all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which isthe second death” (Rev. 21:8).
Paul continued by stating, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). It is not always wrong to be angry. On the contrary, there are some occasions that should most definitely anger us. When we see evil promoted and encouraged, it should anger us. When we see the innocent mistreated, it should anger us. These are ways that we can show anger without sinning. Even our Lord got angry when things were not done correctly (cf. Mark 3:5 and John 2:13-17). However, we are warned about the dangers of letting anger lead to wrath. Christians should never allow themselves to give Satan an inch in this area. It can destroy even the strongest of men.
Then Paul instructed, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). The “new man” cannot continue in his previous way of life. A prior thief cannot continue to steal from others. This shows the necessity of repentance. No man can truly be the “new man” if he has not repented of his past sins (Acts 17:30-31). Honest, decent work should be a mainstay of a Christian. Unfortunately, our society frowns on “having” to work. For the Christian, it is a privilege to work. It allows us to have the opportunity to help those in need.
Paul then indicated that a Christian should “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). A Christian’s vocabulary should be more noble than most in the world. A Christian should speak reverently about God. Likewise, he should not be known as a “foul mouthed” person either. Instead, the “new man” does not seek to break people down with words, but rather build them up. That is edification.
Paul also warned that the “new man” be careful “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30; cf. 1:13-14). Our lack of faithfulness “grieves” God. When Christians go back to their former ways, it bothers God. He knows that by so doing, we are making things worse for ourselves (2 Pet. 2:20-22).
To be continued…