Friday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Ephesians 4:25-32

Some Things to Put Off and Put On

As Paul does in other letters, he lists some specific sins which Christians should avoid.  It is a good thing to, for it is easy to speak in vague terms and platitudes which allow people to avoid witnessing against their own sins.  Citing specific sins causes us to see ourselves in the pages of the Bible and say, “Oh no!  There I am in black and white.”  Then we may rightly judge ourselves, repent, and strive to kill the sin which so easily besets us.

In this list Paul seems to major on attitudes of anger and bitterness and how those attitudes are expressed in action.  He begins with language and how Christians are required to speak the truth “with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”  The emphasis is on speaking the truth within the church, but certainly the world is included.  To the extent we are caught lying in the world, to that extent the witness of the greater Church is hurt since we are members of one another.  He will later add that we are to “let no corrupting talk come out of [our] mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  In other words, we are not only not to sin with our mouths; we are to minister gracious words to and before others as occasions may allow.  We sin with our tongues more than we think, especially when we consider how many idle and coarse words escape our lips.  And remember, we shall one day give account of all that we say (Matthew 12:36-37).

Paul quickly moves to anger, a sin which we typically justify by playing the victim.  But even if we are, we are still told that we must not let the sun go down on our wrath—a metaphorical way of saying that we should seek reconciliation quickly.  Otherwise, we give “opportunity to the devil” to poison our hearts with bitterness which inevitable seeps out on to others.  And Paul means we give no quarter to the enemy: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander [there’s the tongue again] be put away from you, along with malice.”  The Christian simply can’t afford any of these attitudes to take root in his heart.  So Paul’s remedy is not simply not to sin, but to cultivate the virtues: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  And there is the ultimate motivation (Matthew 18:21-35).  In like manner, Paul calls upon the thief to work and learn generosity—the point again being to not only not sin but to replace the sin with virtue.  Sin grieves the Holy Spirit within us, and that should break our hearts when we think of it.  So let us be who we are—people saved by grace who then live like it.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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