Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ephesians 4:25–32

25 Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Vs. 25 "Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another." 

Continuing on from His exhortation to put of the old man (or old nature) and to for us to to put on the new man (i.e. our new nature In Christ), the Apostle Paul now quoting from Zechariah 8:16 (also consider Lev. 19:11) gives us some very tangible and practical ways by which we can all do that. And so to begin with the Apostle Paul says we should start by putting away all lying, saying: Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another." That is we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are all apart of Christ's Body, and thus we are all members of one another, Spiritually joined and united with each other In Christ. And so as members of one another we should be honest and truthful with each other, because that is foundational to building deep and trusting and lasting relationships with each other, as well as building peoples confidence in ourselves, that we are honest and trustworthy people who live by the truth, and thus walk in all honesty and integrity. For lying and practicing the same not only undermines and destroys peoples trust and confidence in each other; ruining marriages and relationships of all sorts; but it can also undermine and destroy peoples trust and confidence in systems, organizations, and even can cause people to loose their faith and confidence in Christ Himself, something none of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ would ever want anyone to do. And so lying is utterly repulsive for all of the relational and societal carnage it brings with it (consider Isaiah 59:13-15). But lying is also repulsive in what it also does to the individual who speaks and lives by lies. For lying and practicing the same is like driving a wedge between oneself and God Himself (consider Jer. 9:6). And so lying opens the door for Satan, the father of lies to come into someones heart and mind and life and begin to sow and justify all kinds of evil thoughts and desires. Therefore no one should ever underestimate the seriousness of lying, or the seriousness by which God sees all lies (Prov 12:22) and will judge all unrepentant liars (Psalm 5:6; 1 Tim 9-10; Rev 21:8), because lying, like all sins is never self contained, but has far reaching and negative and damaging ripple effects on those around us (consider Prov 29:12), especially on those who love us. Therefore lets us all put away all lying, 10 For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12.

Vs. 26-27 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil."

Now before someone goes off and justifies their own ungodly wrath or anger or malicious spirit notice first that the anger being spoken of here is linked with not sinning, and so the exhortation starts with hating what is evil in ones own life, and not yielding oneself to it, or partaking in evil with others (Consider Exodus 23:1-2; Prov. 8:13; 13:5). For there is a time for a just anger against sin, against evil, against corruption, against violence and injustices and crimes against an individual or humanity when these are committed (Psalm 11:5-7; Ecc 3:8). But there is also a sinful anger that is not true of God's Word, nor representative of Christ and His Spirit within us, but rather is only born out of ones old sinful nature and is vindictive, vengeful, unforgiving and unmerciful etc., and thus is not what Christ wants to see in any of us. Just as there is an ungodly angry and wrath born out of jealously which is often manifested through malice and hatred and outbursts of wrath which is is not what we have been called to do, to walk in the spirit and ways of our old nature (consider Titus 3:3-8). Thus the Apostles Paul's exhortation here about "being angry" should not be confused with justifying ones own ungodly, or unjust anger, hatred, or unforgiving spirit at being wronged. Rather the godly anger here is like the anger Jesus felt when He saw that the Temple was given over to those peddling wares within it, and thus who were exploiting and profiteering off of those who had come to seek God through it (see Matt. 21:12-14; John 2:13-17; also consider 1 Sam. 2:22-36; 3:11-14). Or the anger God feels when the poor, the weak, the vulnerable are exploited and abused (Isaiah 10:1-4; antithesis Psalm 12:5; 140:12; Prov 22:22-23; Isaiah 41:17), and so we are commanded to defend the same from the greedy, from the wicked, and from all unjust and evil men and woman who only rob, abuse and exploit the same for their own pleasure and gain (Psalm 82:3-4; Isaiah 1:17). Those then are some ways in which Godly anger can manifest itself and bring about justice and constructive change for us all. That said, I think the Apostle Paul's exhortation here is more geared towards us as believers who as members of one another are going to have times when we will be wronged. And so dealing with the causes of our anger and wrath during these times is paramount to not only our own peace, but also maintaining our fellowship and unity and love as believers, as well as having healthy relationships in all areas of our lives. Therefore the anger and wrath spoken of here, at sin, or at having been sinned against (Lev. 19:17) is to be dealt with directly by our dealing with the people directly related to it, as soon as it is reasonable and possible for us to do so, rather than letting it fester and burn on and on inside us, as the Apostle warns of happening to us if we do not readily deal with it in the daytime, before the night comes and all manner of evil thoughts and desires of "getting even" begin to take root inside of us. For as it is with lying, not readily and justly dealing with ones own anger and wrath only gives the devil a foothold in ones own person and life, which will only be harmful to oneself and others through the bitterness and such that will be born out of it (Heb. 12:15). Therefore when it comes to our interpersonal relationships we must follow what the Lord Jesus Christ commands in Matt 18:15-35 (also see James 5:16) so as to prevent the devil from getting a foothold in our lives, or the lives of those we have wronged. 

Vs. 28 "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need."

In his ongoing exhortation of our putting off the old man, the Apostle Paul now says that the one who stole, should not only steal no longer (also see Deut 5:19; 1 Peter 4:15), and rather that they should labor with their own hands in some sort of honest employment, and not just to meet their own needs, but also to help meet the needs of those who are in need, and thus to bring forth some positive fruit for Christ and blessing to others through their new lives as well. Now stealing is not just something that the common thief (Deut. 5:19), dishonest worker or employer does (Titus 2:9-10; James 5:4). But sadly stealing, robbing, lying and cheating is found in all levels of society. And so not only does God have prohibitions against it, but also judgments for those who follow after it (consider Lev. 19:11, 13; Psalm 37:21; 50:15-21; Prov. 3:27-28; 11:1; 20:14, 23; 22:23; Isaiah 10:1-4; 58; Jeremiah 7:8-10; 9:4-6; 22:13-17; Ezekiel 22:9; 45:9-10; Hosea 4:1-2, 8:4-6; Micah 6:11; Nahum 3;1; Zechariah 5:3; Malachi 3:5, 8-12; Luke 19:45-46; 11:17; Rom. 2:22; 13:9; 1 Cor 6:8; James 5:1-6; Rev 9:21 etc.). Therefore we as the children of God must not be partakers in anything that would put us under just scrutiny by man, or by God (Lev. 19:13, 35-36; Deut 25:13; 15, 16; Prov 16:11 etc.), because ones own reputation and integrity and peace is far more valuable than the little bit of temporal wealth that is gained by it (consider Prov 20:17; 28:6; 29:24; Heb. 13:18).

Vs. 29 "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."

Having dealt with the hands, the Apostle Paul now turns too the mouth. Now we know that all sins have their origins in the human heart (Matt. 15:19) and that the mouth is a good indication of the good or the evil that is taking place inside oneself (Luke 6:45). And so believers should not only guard their hearts with all diligence from the corrupting influences of this world (Prov. 4:23-27), but also their mouths, because it is the mouth that directs the body, whether into good or evil (James 3:3-7; also consider James 1:19-20). Therefore things like profanity, speaking folly, off-color humor, disparaging and discouraging words and speech, slighting or deprecating of others are not the kinds of things that God approves, or wants to hear coming out of our mouths. Rather God wants us to use our mouths to encourage and build each other up in our faith and lives, and give grace to those who hear us; whether inside or outside of the faith. Therefore our mouths should be like life giving streams of fresh glacier mountain water that truly refresh and bless others, rather than being like the dark and dirty stagnate swamp waters that only pollute and defile, and thus quench the thirst of no one (consider Prov. 10:11, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 31, 32, 11:9, 12:14, 18, 20, 13:2-3; 14:3, 7; 15:2, 7, 14, 23, 28, 16:13, 21, 23, 27, 21:23; 18:7, 20, 21; 22:11; 23:16; 24:26; 26:28; 28:23; 31:26).

Vs. 30 "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." 

Lying, stealing, corrupt speech all grieve the Holy Spirit, just as any sin in a believers life does. And so not grieving the Holy Spirit who has sealed us for the day of redemption is foundational to not only our own Spiritual growth and edification, but also the edification of others as well.

Vs. 31-32 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

The Apostle Paul now lists several things that are grievous to the Holy Spirit when believers walk in them, they are:
bitternessπικρία, LN. 88.201 "a state of sharp, intense resentment or hate" often manifested through ones disposition and speech (see Rom. 3:14). Now living by as much only has the effect of defiling others with the same spirit of bitterness (see Heb. 12:15).
wrathθυμός, LN. 88.178 "a state of intense anger, with the implication of passionate outbursts—‘anger, fury, wrath, rage." This word often indicates a sudden rising up of anger and thus an outburst of wrath, like that which the people of Nazareth, Jesus' home town exemplified, when Jesus preaching in their Synagogue justified two Gentiles, the widow of Zarepath of the region of Sidon, whom God sent Elijah the prophet too, who she received and believed God's word spoken to her, and thus she did as he commanded her, and she and her whole household lived. And Namaan the Syrian, a leper and commander of the Syrian army who likewise believed Elisha the prophet, and thus did what he commanded him, and he was healed by God (see Luke 4:26-30, vs. 28; for other uses of this word also see Acts 19:28, Rom. 2:8; 2 Cor 12:20; Gal. 5:20; Col. 3:8; Heb. 11:27; Rev 12:12; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 19:15).
angerὀργήa, LN 88.173 "a relative state of anger", —‘anger, fury.’ This word indicates an ongoing state of anger, as such no believer can live in as much without grieving the Holy Spirit, and so we are commanded to put such wrath away from ourselves because the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). Also in 1 Tim. 2:8 men are to pray to God without wrath and doubting, the implication being that harboring anger towards anyone while seeking God in prayer by faith are two incompatible practices, and thus ones wrath must be dealt with if one expects God's intercession.
clamor, In this context this basically means very loud and contentious quarreling and arguing. Basically yelling and shouting at each other, rather than working out ones differences like Christians should do.
evil speakingβλασφημέω; βλασφημίαa, LN. 33.400 "to speak against someone in such a way as to harm or injure his or her reputation (occurring in relation to persons as well as to divine beings)—‘to revile, to defame, to blaspheme, reviling.’ Evil speaking has the effect of not only harming another persons reputation or person, but also of stirring up others to do the same, and so it is grave evil, which no one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ should ever partake in.
maliceκακία, LN 88.199 "a feeling of hostility and strong dislike, with a possible implication of desiring to do harm—‘hateful feeling.’

Now in contrast to practicing those very negative and destructive things, we are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. The measure than of God loving and forgiving us and seeking our well being through the Crucifixion death of His Son, who know also lives to ever make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25), is how we are to love and forgive others, because we will all have to endure injustices, injuries, conflicts, and the like, and most of these we will have no control over, for that is the very nature of life itself. Yet what we can control and be better people for is how we respond to them, for that is God's plan for us in this life, to become more like Christ, which we do when we walk in the Spirit and not yield ourselves to our old sinful ugly nature. My God Himself than help and strengthen us all as we grow in His Son, becoming more and more like Him as we yield our hearts and lives to His Will for us all, amen.

Scriptural Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Additional Resources Consulted
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 763). New York: United Bible Societies.

MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1939). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Additional Information
All indicated definitions were taken from Louw-Nida Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament

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