Ephesiansby Robert M. Solomon
Believers are called to discard our old selves and put on our new selves. This has significant implications for our behaviour and relationships, as conveyed by the word “Therefore”, which links the previous section with this section (Ephesians 4:25). In the next few verses, Paul looks at some examples of transformation that will be seen in us when we are regenerated and have put our old selves on the cross.
There are three areas in which radical transformation can be seen. Each has to do with one of the Ten Commandments: the ninth (Exodus 20:16), the eighth (20:15), and the sixth (20:13). With each example, Paul continues to apply the idea of “putting on” the new self and “putting off” the old self.
Firstly, each believer is urged to put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour (Ephesians 4:25): there should be integrity in his speech, communication, and relationships. The reason—”for we are all members of one body”—is that if the various parts of our body practise deceit when they communicate with one another, we will have a sick, confused, and paralysed body. How much more true this will be in the church, where we are to speak the truth in love (v. 15).
Secondly, we must avoid sinning when we get angry (v. 26). Becoming angry is a visceral response and we may not be able to prevent it, but what we do next determines whether we sin or not. Anger must be quickly dealt with in a godly way and must not be allowed to linger over to the next day. To harbour anger and bitterness is to allow the devil to gain a foothold in our lives. The devil is happy to provoke our anger to boiling point or to let it simmer for a long time and thus destroy our souls; anger is like acid that harms the vessel in which it is stored. Jesus revealed the connection between nursing anger and murder (Matthew 5:21–22).
Thirdly, he who used to steal must stop (Ephesians 4:28). People steal for various reasons, such as laziness and greed. The transformed believer must now work (no more laziness) and from his wages share with those in need (no more greed). This illustrates the “putting off” and “putting on” concept. We are not only to renounce sin, but also to pursue goodness.
Consider how people avoid speaking truthfully, e.g. speaking only about inconsequential matters. Why is telling the truth important for the health and maturity of the church?
Why do people enjoy nursing their anger? Why is it important to deal quickly with anger, and how does this reflect the character of God (Psalm 30:5)?