Practical Christian Living
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. 26 "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. (NKJV)
The book of Ephesians is part of what is known as the Prison Epistles. The writings, themselves, affirm that the epistles were written by the Apostle Paul from prison.
There are differing opinions as to during which of Paul’s prison confinements the epistles were written. There are many sources that discuss this subject fully. For our purposes, we will go along with the thought of most scholars that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62.
It is believed that the epistle was written about AD 61 to the house churches in Ephesus, Asia. The idea was that this authoritative letter would be passed along to the other churches.
The book of Ephesians can be divided into two halves. The first half, the first three chapters, is concerned with the positional; doctrine outlining our position in Christ.
The second half, the last three chapters, is concerned with the practical; how we work out our position in the practical living of our Christian life. This is similar to the breakdown of the book of Romans, Paul’s previous writing.
Paul concluded the previous passage by writing “and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (v. 24). When you become a Christian you “put on the new man” who has been created by God to be righteous and holy.
In this passage, Paul begins with the word “Therefore”, a reference to the previous passage about becoming a “new man”. When you become a Christian, you become a “new man”, a new creation, therefore you should live as a new creation.
Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and are empowered to live as a new creation. Here, Paul gives us five examples of practical Christian living, the living out of this new life.
Each example starts with a negative example, followed by the corresponding positive example and Biblical principle. The Biblical principles are from the Old Testament Scriptures since those were the Scriptures predominately used by Paul. These five examples are as follows:
1. Speak Truth
Paul writes “putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” (v. 25). The negative example is we should not lie.
The positive example is we should “speak truth” to everyone because we are fellow members of the body of Christ. The Biblical principle is “These are the things you shall do. Speak each man the truth to his neighbor” (Zech 8:16). The Lord was speaking of the things His people (the members) should do.
2. Be angry at evil, not each other
Paul writes "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let |the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (vv. 26-27). The negative example is that being angry with one another can bring on sin. The devil can gain a foothold in our relationships when we are angry,
The positive example is to be angry at evil, not one another. The Biblical principle is “Be angry and do not sin” (Psalm 4:4).
The phrase “do not let the sun go down on your wrath” is a reminder that anger with one another, when it does happen, should not be allowed to linger. It should be dealt with the day it happens.
God’s day (Gen. 1:5), David’s day, the Jewish day, and Paul’s day (because he was raised Jewish) all ran from sundown to sundown. The application here is that arguments do not necessarily need to be settled before bedtime.
Sometimes the evening, when everyone is tired, may be the worst time to settle an argument that arises during the evening. Settling things the next day (later the same day in God’s time) is acceptable, and may be preferable, after you have had time to sleep on it and pray about it. As always, God has all the answers.
3. Work for your needs and those of others
Paul writes “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (v. 28). Obviously, the negative example is do not steal.
The positive example is to work for your needs and so that you can give to help others. The Biblical principle is “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another” (Lev. 19:11). Stealing, as defined here, also means cheating to gain financially or not paying your debts.
4. Speak in grace
Paul writes “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (vv. 29-30). The negative example is to not disparage, or speak badly of, others.
The literal Greek is “Every word rotten out of the mouth of you not let go”. We should keep our rotten words to ourselves.
The positive example is to speak in grace and build up others through our words. The Biblical principle is “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit. So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, And He fought against them”” (Isa. 63:10).
This tells us that our words can grieve the Holy Spirit. When we grieve the Holy Spirit, God may not be with us. In fact, He may be against us.
This is the same Holy Spirit who seals our salvation and assures us of eternal life in Heaven. No wonder He is grieved when we rebel against Him.
5. Be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving
Paul writes “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. (vv. 31-32). The negative example is to not lose your temper, to not rage against others.
Pouring out our wrath on others through actions or words is sin. An uncontrollable temper is destructive to relationships.
The positive example is to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. These attributes can go a long way in maintaining healthy relationships. Christ forgave us of much greater sins than have ever been inflicted upon us by others.
The Biblical principle is “You shall not hate your brother in your heart” (Lev. 19:17). During that moment of rage, we have hate in our heart.
These five positive examples of practical Christian living, if practiced, will go a long way toward maintaining healthy relationships. As Christians, we should glorify God in all that we say and do.
Online Bible Commentary