Ephesians 4:17-32

ESV scripture Re-written in my words
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. You must no longer be futile in your mind like you were towards God, like the gentiles are now.
18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They are not part of God’s people because their hearts are hard and their understanding has been darkened.
19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. They have become uncaring to what is right and do whatever makes them feel good,
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— But that is not the way you came to understand about Christ.
21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, I am assuming you heard and were taught the truth – which is Christ.
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, The truth is:

1.      To put off your old self that did whatever it wanted to please itself

23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 2.        To be renewed in your soul
24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 3.        To put on your new self which is in the likeness of God – to be as Christ is.
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Now that you have been made this way, and have put away falsehood, speak the truth to your brothers and sisters in Christ.
26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, If you are angry do not sin by harboring that anger.
27 and give no opportunity to the devil. Don’t give the devil anything to work with.
28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. If you were a thief then put that behind you and do it no more. Be an honest worker so you may share with others what you reap.
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Don’t speak corruptly or slanderously, but build up one another thereby showing others what grace is like through your words.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Don’t make the Holy Spirit grieve over you because of your choices. He has sealed you for redemption.
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Get rid of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Be kind to one another with a soft heart, ready to forgive, just as God through Christ forgave you.

At the beginning of chapter 4 we discussed how each of us, Jew and gentile, that has been called to Christ is now part of His body, and we are unified through Him. Now we are given practical applications for how to stay unified.

Q1. What is it that Paul says we must no longer do (vs. 17-19)?

He makes a case against the Gentiles (those who do not know God personally) and explains that they don’t know the truth because they only care about what makes them feel the best which has darkened their hearts and mind. Paul tells us to not be that way any longer, that it is futile to live that way and pretend that ‘nothing really matters so do whatever you like‘.

Q2. What is the difference between living as a Gentile and how we came to know Christ (vs. 20-24)?

As a Gentile we did what we wanted to make ourselves feel good (even if it was fleeting), but that is not how we came to know Christ. Upon hearing God’s Word and receiving the gospel, we had to reject our natural desire to please ourselves and instead please God. Instead of being mindless and going with the flow we had to use our minds and think about what we were doing. We had to enact our thoughts and emotions and give them over to something bigger than ourselves. We had to die to ourselves and live to God.

Q3. What practical advice does Paul give us to move forward in our unity with one another (vs. 25-32)?

  • Speak the truth, don’t harbor anger – Paul exhorts us to capture that feeling of anger and present it to the one with whom we have issue instead of keeping it all locked up inside. If we confess to one another it shows trust and submissiveness, a humility that takes Christ to accomplish. By harboring our anger and not getting it out we allow it to fester and turn into something worse than it started, which leads to gossip, slander, and rage. Paul even says in verse 27 that by harboring we are giving the devil something to work with… all he needs is to remind us of what someone has done to hurt us and we will easily be used to cause harm to the body of Christ.
  • Don’t steal but work honestly – Part of pleasing ourselves is doing what feels good at work. That can look like spending time on non-work-related things, or even cheating on our time sheets to get a couple extra bucks. Paul says that now we need to put this type of corruption behind us and instead work honestly. Later in chapter 6 he goes into more depth and tells us to do everything as if we are doing it for the Lord.
  • Do not speak corruptly – Again what may make us feel good for a minute can cause ourselves and others to sin. Speaking with a corrupt tongue does not just apply to speaking about other people, but about situations and hardships as well. Paul admonishes us to keep our talk for building others up so that they will see God’s grace in all things. If we complain about the situation we find ourselves in, we are complaining about what God has planned.
  • Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit – As proof of our payment for sin, God gives us the Holy Spirit who indwells us and works to sanctify us for our day of final salvation. If we go about our days ignoring what Christ says is good and honorable then we are purposely hurting our God. The Holy Spirit tells us by creating a certain feeling inside when we do something we know to be wrong. When we do it anyway it’s like taking a hammer to a lock on a chest. Though we can’t break it, we can cause pain.

As part of this study I looked up 3 of the words Paul uses here to describe how we should NOT live:

  1. Clamor – shouting loudly and incessantly
  2. Slander – making false statements / damaging reputations
  3. Malice – the intention or desire to do evil

Instead, and as a final reminder in this section, Paul tells us to be kind, tender hearted, and forgiving one another – just as Christ forgave us. This is a huge and difficult task, but one that we have been given power to do through the Holy Spirit who resides in each of us. Taking every thought captive and presenting it to God (testing through the Word) will always give us the answer and direction we need to go.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5

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