Thursday, September 24, 2020

2020.09.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:25–30

Read Ephesians 4:25–30

Questions from the Scripture text: What are we to put away altogether in Ephesians 4:25? But what can we sometimes do without sinning in Ephesians 4:26a? What is one key to this righteous anger (verse 26b)? If we don’t manage our anger properly, to whom do we give place (Ephesians 4:27)? Who else must stop what he was doing altogether (Ephesians 4:28a)? What should he do instead (verse 28b)? What kind of work should he do? What should he hope to do with his earnings (verse 28c)? What shouldn’t we let proceed from our mouth (Ephesians 4:29a)? What should we let proceed (verse 29b)? That it may do what? Whom must we not grieve (Ephesians 4:30a)? What has been done by Him, for what (verse 30b)? 

There’s a cosmic tug of war in every Christian’s life and thought. The Holy Spirit is always with us, since it is by Him that we have been sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and the devil is always ready to take whatever ground we are foolish and wicked enough to give him (Ephesians 4:27). If we aren’t mindful of both, we can end up living quite ignorantly of the cosmic war that rages in the ordinary context of our living out the mind and life of Christ in us (cf. chapters 5–6)

There can be no neutrality in this war. It is not enough to put on the quality from Christ by His Spirit; you must put off the corresponding quality from the old man. It is not enough to put off the corresponding quality from the old man; you must put on the new man as well. This verses give us four examples of this putting off and putting on. The putting off helps the putting on. The putting on helps the putting off.

Three things are to be put away entirely: lying, stealing, and corrupt speech.

Not only are we to put away lying; we are to intentionally pursue speaking truth with one another, in light of what we learned in Ephesians 4:11-16 about how the body functions. 

Not only are we to stop stealing, cold turkey, but the new man cares about what kind of job he has (“working with his hands what is good”—hands here being a synecdoche for any and all of his own faculties) and what he does with his earnings (focusing not merely on provision for himself, but especially upon provision for others: family, extended family, church, extended church family, neighbors, etc.)

Not only are we to cut off entirely the flow of a single corrupt word, but the new man is crafting good words that impart grace, because he knows (again, from the body-function lesson in verses 11–16) how needful this is for the hearers’ being built up in Christ.

Interestingly, anger is not one of those things that we are to put off entirely. If we think about it a little, this becomes obvious because, whereas Scripture tells us that God cannot lie (cf. Titus 1:2) and that all His Words are pure words (cf. Psalm 12:6, Proverbs 30:5), the same Bible actually teaches us frequently that God is angry (cf. Psalm 7:11, etc.). 

So, Ephesians 4:26 actually begins with the command to be furious (the word can mean trembling with anger or even enraged). If we are never furious, we have made little progress in being renewed in the spirit of our mind (cf. Ephesians 4:23). Righteous anger, however, is the opposite of stewing resentment or bitterness (Ephesians 4:26b) that leaves us especially prone to the devil (Ephesians 4:27, cf. 2 Corinthians 2:10–11, 1 Peter 5:6–8).

In each of these cases, we are to fight both against the devil and with the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:16–18), rejoicing that the Spirit cannot fail to win this tug-of-war for the believer’s mind and conduct.

What are you currently working to put off/on? What do you correspondingly need to put on/off?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH400 “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me”

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