Letters from Prison - Ephesians 4:25-5:4
I like to think of this passage as the great clothing exchange. Things to take off and things to put on. Paul expected the Ephesians to experience changes, and he gave three admonitions: “put off” (4:22–23), “put on” (4:24), and “put away” (4:25). There are several things that Paul says to stop doing, take off, put away AND things to start doing, to put on.
Exchange lying for speaking truth
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood [negative command] and speak truthfully to your neighbor [positive command.], for we are all members of one body.[reason]
Exchange unrestrained anger with timely reconciliation
26 “In your anger [positive command.] do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, [negative command] 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.[reason]
Exchange stealing for sharing
28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, [negative command] but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, [positive command] that they may have something to share with those in need. [reason]
Exchange corrupt communication with edifying words
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk [negative command] but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, [positive command] that it may benefit those who listen. [reason] 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Exchange natural vices for supernatural graces
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. [negative command] 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, [positive command] just as in Christ God forgave you. [reason]
Exchange the immoral for the pure
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, [negative command] because these are improper for God’s holy people. [reason] 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking,which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Exchange grave-yard talk with resurrection-talk
4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, [negative command] which are out of place, [reason] but rather thanksgiving. [positive command]
It's amazing how well these points that Paul makes applies especially to the marriage relationship. Sometimes, couples get at odds with one another and that spills over into their public life. One author talked about how to have a good fight (Swindoll, Strike Original).
Chuck Swindoll writes, “When you swing in public, your malice is showing. There are at least two ways that you can do this in a marriage. First of all, you can do it with open, bold embarrassment. Second, you can do it with subtle, cutting sarcasm. Either one hurts deeply” (Strike the Original Match, p. 130).
Marital spats are pretty common, even among Christians. And occasionally, it’s all-out war and the tactics used can get pretty interesting. If we allowed today's passage to speak to this, what could we say to couples when they fight? What are some guidelines for everyone who may find themselves in a disagreement?
1. Keep it honest (v.25) and make it easy for people to tell the truth. Don’t keep secrets.
2. Keep it under control (v.26) because anger is not all bad. Set boundaries so you don’t get mad all the time.
3. Keep it timed right (v.26-27) so you can go as in-depth as you need to.
4. Keep it positively focused (v.28) and stop stealing and withdrawing love. Bless each other.
5. Keep it tactful (v.29) and use a pleasant tone. If you’re late, call.
6. Keep it private (v.31) and off Facebook. But share passwords on accounts with each other for accountability.
7. Keep it surrendered (v.32) and fully forgiven. Physical intimacy is the barometer of where you are here. If you aren’t sleeping together, it’s not forgiven.
A Christian ultimately is not trying to lead a godly life simply because immorality is terrible. A Christian leads a godly life because he or she is infused, his consciousness is infused, with the glorious facts of who you are. Put on the new self means remember your identity. Remind yourself of who you are now that you’re a Christian. That is the secret. That is the principle, and that makes the Christianity very different than all other ethical systems.
When we accept Christ and are welcomed into the family of God, we are essentially playing for a new team! Stepping out into the same life but with a different agenda.4:24 and to put on the new self...
In appealing for proper Christian conduct Paul says that Christians are to put off the conduct associated with their former life apart from Christ and put on a new pattern of behavior, just as they might put on a new dress or suit.
Would you like to exchange your old life for a new life? Exchange the old marriage for a new marriage? Exchange the old habit routine for a new routine? Exchange the old cantankerous spirit for a new perspective? Exchange all the fear for a lot of hope?
Why don't you come to Christ today?