A New Standard of Living
The world is not our standard for Christian living.
The apostle Paul stressed, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” (Rom. 12:2). Again he writes, “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24). In the verses that follow he gives five specific examples of the higher standard of Christian conduct.
We are to put off lying and speak the truth in love (v. 25). It is a habitual action that is to characterize the Christian life. Literally the believer is to put off “the lie” (v.25), and speak the truth. This is the same word the apostle John uses for the antichrist in 1 John 2:20-23. When a person puts his faith in Jesus Christ he is rejecting the lie, and embracing the Truth (Jn. 14:6).
What a profound significance this is for the person in Christ. “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (v. 25). Let it be a habitual action to tell the truth. Let it characterize your lifestyle.
Make a commitment to yourself and God to speak the whole truth without mixture of error in your family, business and life relationships. How much easier life is when you live an honest, open, transparent life style. Cultivate truthfulness in your life every day. Don’t be careless with your words.
Put off anger (vv. 26-27). One of the best ways to give the devil an opportunity to gain a place in your life is to be an angry person. Paul does not give an opposite behavior in this example. In one aspect anger is not sin. It is an emotion. He stresses, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity (lit. a place).” Paul is emphasizing a controlled or righteous anger as opposed to and uncontrolled, selfish, or sinful anger.
Paul uses two different words for “anger” in v. 26. There are times when we should be angry, and there are times when we sin with our anger. “Be angry and do not sin” is the word for wrath, indignation, suggesting a more settled or abiding condition of mind, frequently with a view of taking revenge. It is an anger that has an abiding and settled habit of mind that is aroused under certain conditions. When this kind of anger is guided by reason, it can be a right emotion as in righteous indignation. When we cherish it, it becomes sin. It must never become just an expression of personal provocation or wounded pride. We must guard against sinful motives (1 Jn. 1:19).
“Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” It can take the form of an angry mood, a violent irritation, harmful words or eyes of fire. Paul admonishes us to deal with anger quickly before the day is over. Unresolved anger leads to other sins.
Put off stealing and have something to share with the needy (v. 28).
The motive for working Paul says is “in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.” That statement alone clarifies a lot of modern values. The winner is not the one who walks away with the most toys in life.
Have you ever counted the many ways you can steal in life? You do not have to go to prison, and few people do.
Work hard so you will have something to share with a world with true needs.
Put off rotten words and put on speaking with edification that it may give grace to the hearer (v. 29).
“Unwholesome” literally means, “corrupt,” or “corrupting.” It is the word for rotting fruit. Some people’s words corrupt themselves and everyone who hears them. It rots them away. It makes you feel corrupted days after you have been around them. On the other hand, the believer should use words that will build up and encourage people (James 3:5-6).
How do you control your tongue? By allowing the Holy Spirit to control your mind (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:30).
Put off bitterness, wrath and anger (indignation), and put on love (vv. 30-32).
What is the best way to grieve the Holy Spirit? Bitterness, wrath and a settled indignation toward someone always grieves the Spirit.
The only way to put on the high standard of Christian conduct Paul is describing here is to walk in the Spirit.
Selah!(Reflect upon that.)