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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on June 7, 2017 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; June 7, 2017 from Ephesians 4:25-32

Theme: Paul shows how life-transformation in Christ happens in specific areas of practice.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

Last week, we considered what the apostle Paul wrote about the fundamentals of life-transformation in Christ. In Ephesians 4:17-19, he explained the inability of the unredeemed man or woman to experience such life-transformation because of the effect of the fall of Adam on the human mind. But in verses 20-24, he explained how the dynamic of life-transformation occurs in the man or woman in whom Christ dwells. He stressed that there is now a principle of grace in effect, renewing the mind and enabling it to receive the truth of God’s word. And then, through a process of (1) putting off ‘the old man’ (with the old behavior practices and habits that characterized the unredeemed life), (2) being renewed in the spirit of the mind (through God’s word), and (3) putting on ‘the new man’ (with the new behavior practices and habits that characterize Jesus Christ Himself), genuine life transformation can now be experienced. We might diagram these three elements in interaction with each other in the following way:


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Now you could say that what Paul gives us in verses 17-24 are the necessary theoretical principles of life-transformation in Christ. But in verses 25-32, he goes on to show us what it actually looks like in practice. He illustrates true life-transformation in five crucial, very basic areas of real-life experience. Note that, with respect to each of these examples: (1) they are only properly possible to experience ‘in Christ’ (because of the necessary spiritual grace of a renewed mind; see 3:14-21); (2) all of them assume the personal responsibility of believer (and thus highlight the participation of the believer in the work of life-transformation; see 4:1, 17), (3) all of them operate on the principle of not merely ceasing one behavior, but actually replacing it with another (see 4:22-24); and (4) all of them are enabled by the limitless resources of Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit as our unfailing help in the work (see 1:3, 19-23).

* * * * * * * * * *

The introductory word “Therefore” in verse 25 shows us that what follows is now to be seen as a practical application of the principles in vv. 20-24. Note how this pattern of life-transformation shows itself with respect to …

I. LYING (v. 25).

“Therefore,” Paul says, “putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” Note first the behavior that is to be “put off”; that is, lying. The Greek word that is used is the one from which we get the English prefix ‘pseudo-’ (that is, “fake” or “false”). We’re to no longer be false or untrue or ‘pseudo’ (in word or deed) with our ‘neighbor’ (which would naturally refer to that person next to whom we are placed in life; but it would also most certainly describe our brother or sister in Christ).

To express the thing that is to be put in its place, Paul quotes Zechariah 8:16; “Speak each man the truth to his neighbor …” And as the basis for this ‘put-off / put-on’ action, we’re to remember that we are now more than just neighbors. God’s word teaches us that we are actually members of the same body in Christ. Being false with one another is completely inappropriate; because we are vitally connected to one another in Jesus (see 1:22-23; 4:4; 1 Corinthians 12).

II. SINFUL ANGER (vv. 26-27).

Paul here cites first the behavior to be put on: “Be angry, and do not sin …” Note that, in saying this, he is quoting from Psalm 4:4. And do you notice that he doesn’t say, “Don’t be angry”? That’s because anger in and of itself is not sinful. Our Lord, after all, was angry on occasion. What is sinful is to be angry in a sinful way—over selfish matters or in an inordinate manner. If we’re only angry at sin (as our Lord was), then we’re less likely to be angry ‘sinfully’.

The behavior to be ‘put off’ is anger that is allowed to linger and fester in our hearts (see Psalm 37:8). Paul says, “do not let the sun go down on your wrath”. And note how our minds are to be renewed in this matter. Paul says in verse 27, “nor give place to the devil”. We’re to remember that the enemy of our souls is very glad to take righteous anger and twist it against us.

III. STEALING (v. 28).

The behavior to be put off is this: “Let him who stole steal no longer …” Note that a kleptomaniac is not helpless in Christ. From the Bible’s standpoint, he or she can stop stealing. But it’s not enough to simply cease sinful behavior. True life-transformation only occurs when righteous behavior is put in its place. Paul writes, “but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good …” The hands are no longer to be used for evil, but rather as instruments that are yielded over to God for good purposes (see Romans 6:12-14).

And note the renewing of the mind that is highlighted in this case: “that he may have something to give him who has need.” The former thief is no longer to think of what he can grab hold of for himself, but—in imitation of Christ—is to now focus on what he can give of himself for the service of others.

IV. EVIL SPEACH (vv. 29-30).

The behavior to be put off is, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth …”; literally, “all rotten speech” (see 5:3-4). The tongue, if sinful passions are allowed to take control of it, can do great harm (see James 3:1-12). We are to no longer let that harm come out of our mouths—no longer to just ‘say what we feel’; “but” by contrast speak, as Paul writes, “what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Our lips are not to be used for harm, but only for edification (see Colossians 4:6).

And note why: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” We are the temple of the Holy Spirit who’s presence guarantees us for heavenly glory; and ‘rotten speech’ is like foul graffiti on His temple wall. We cannot make Him leave; but we can make Him grieve. May we only give Him pleasure through our words.


Finally, Paul writes, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” This particular ‘put-off’ action is stated in the passive form of the verb. We’re to ‘let it’ be done to us. We can’t put these things off from ourselves. We fail when we try. Rather, we’re to allow God to take them—and not resist His work. But the things we’re to ‘put-on’ are stated in the active form of the verb: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another …” These are things that we are to not merely ‘let’ be done to us, but rather are to actively ‘do’.

And note how our minds are to be renewed in this matter. We are to forgive “even as God in Christ forgave you” (see 1:7; 2:14-28). If God has forgiven us all things through Christ completely; then we no longer have any right to withhold forgiveness from our brother or sister. We are duty-bound to forgive others as we have been forgiven by God, or to be tender-heartedly approachable as the Lord has shown Himself to be to us, or to treat others kindly as we have been treated by Him.

* * * * * * * * * *

We’re probably not meant to see this list of five areas of practice as exclusive. There are, no doubt, many other areas in which this same process can be applied. We should therefore learn from these five examples of application what this ‘put-off / renewal of mind / put-on’ process of life-transformation in Christ looks like and how it works. And then, we should seek to apply it, with reliance on the Holy Spirit, to every area in which we are to be brought into conformity to the image of Christ.

As Paul puts it in Romans 12:1-2;

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

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