“ 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:25-32.
Paul writes about five specific sins in this passage and follows up with why the Christian should do away with them. The five includes lying, anger, stealing, corrupt speech, and bitterness. All of these sins destroy the unity of the church body. Paul is calling us to walk in purity not only for our own sake but for the sake of the church as a whole. Satan wants a foothold in our lives and when we walk in sin, Satan will grab on tightly to try to destroy the church unity and fellowship.
Lying – A lie is a statement that is contrary to fact with the intent to deceive. As a believer we should only speak truthfully to people because, “we are all member of one body” (vs. 25). We are to build up Christ’s church in truth (4:15) and in love (4:16). Truth builds up but lies tear down.
Anger – Anger is an emotional arousal caused by something that displeases us. Paul did not write “never get angry” but he wrote “in you anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (vs. 27). The reason is to not “give the devil a foothold”. “It is difficult for us to practice a true holy anger or righteous indignation because our emotions are tainted by sin, and we do not have the same knowledge that God has in all matters” Wiersbe, Be Rich! Christians should be angry at sin yet love the sinner. Psalm 97:10 states: “ Ye that love the Lord hate evil.” If we do become angry, we should settle the matter quickly and “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”. I have heard many marriage counselors say that couples should “sleep on it” when couples get in a heated argument. It becomes a “blessed escape” from heated discussions. However, this is contrary to what the Bible says. The disagreement does not have to be “settled” but our anger should be. Anger erodes relationships, resides deep in a person’s soul, affects responses to the other person and outsiders, inhibits you to love the agape way, affect your physical health and gives the devil a foothold.
Stealing – Simply put, stealing is taking something that does not already belong to you. “Thou shalt not steal” is one of the Ten Commandments. I have not thought of myself as a “thief”. But I have used office supplies for my own personal use, the internet at work to send personal emails on company time. Taking the office pen home is the same as stealing a loaf of bread from the grocery store or even stealing a car. Sin is sin, and stealing is stealing. Paul teaches us in this package the better way: “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” (vs. 28). Laboring has been lifted to a higher level: “that they may have something to share with those in need”. We do not labor to keep everything for ourselves. We labor so we can give!
Corrupt Speech – Corrupt means that which is worthless, bad or rotten. Corrupt speech is filthy communication. Matthew 12:34 states it beautifully. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”. What is in your heart? What is in mine? You can tell my examining your speech. To remedy corrupt speech, fill your heart with the things from above. Meditate on Scripture, lift up thanksgivings to the Lord, sing praises to God and always keep in mind that your words have power: power to heal or power to kill and destroy.
Bitterness – Bitterness refers to a settled hostility that poisons all the way down to the depths of the soul. Bitterness stems from unresolved anger that leads to wrath. It like a fire that smolders and is not put out. The coals are always warm and the fire of hatred and anger can burn again readily and easily when it is provoked by even the slightest thing.
After being told how not to behave, Paul teaches us what we should do instead. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (vs. 32). To do the things we ought to brings glory and honor to God, keeps us in fellowship with our Creator and brings unity to the body of Christ!