17/12/17 Ephesians 4:25-32 “Do not give place to the devil by sinning!”
Ephesians 4:25 – Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Wherefore – therefore; as a result of (previous verses)
putting away – put off or aside (as you might for garments, like taking clothes off)
neighbour – neighbour; friend; our fellow man; any person with whom we live or chance to meet. Note the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). In the above context “neighbour” apparently means those who are members of the body of Christ (Eg Ephesians 4:12).
We have an obligation to be truthful, in particular to those who are members with us of the body of Christ. Our relationship with each other is through the head of the body, Christ. Truth is emphasised in Ephesians 4 as per the following:
Ephesians 4:21; 24 – 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
It is clear that truth is a very important attribute in the body of Christ, which is not surprising seeing as Christ is the Word of God and God’s Word is truth.
“Therefore, putting aside lying (intentional falsehoods), every man (everyone) should speak truth with his neighbour (those others of the body of Christ?), for we are members of the same body as each other.”
Romans 12:4-5 – 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Truth demonstrates harmony, while a lie demonstrates inconsistency. Likewise, harmony demonstrates truth, while inconsistency demonstrates a lie.
Ephesians 4:26 – Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Anger does not automatically mean sin, yet all too often anger is indeed the result or companion of sin. The above verse is said to have been quoted from Psalm 4:4.
Psalm 4:4 – Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.
However, it is actually from the LXX (Septuagint) of Psalm 4:4 which says – 4 Be ye angry, and sin not; feel compunction upon your beds for what ye say in your hearts.
“Stand in awe” (Psalm 4:4) = tremble; rage; quake; be perturbed; provocation – all of which could be seen as a description of an angry person.
It is a fact that many of the quotes in the New Testament are from the LXX, which was probably the most accessible version of the Old Testament for the Jews of Paul’s day. More people (including Jews) spoke Greek than Hebrew! Many of those Paul was writing to spoke the almost universal language of that day – Greek.
Jesus showed anger, yet He did not sin at any time; thus anger is not automatically sin.
Mark 3:5 – And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched [it] out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
let not the sun go down upon your wrath (indignation; exasperation) – Do not let the day finish before you deal with your anger; do not let your anger continue into the next day – possibly from an old Pythagorean rule that they should shake hands in peace before the setting of the sun.
That is, if there is a need to be angry, then be angry without malice, and even then, only as long as is necessary for your anger to deal with things.
Ephesians 4:27 – Neither give place to the devil.
place – place; any portion or space marked off from surrounding space; place in a book; opportunity; power; occasion for acting; scope.
devil – diabolos (slanderer; false accuser) It is generally used of satan, yet not always. Women can be diabolos, likewise wives! (And, no doubt, men too!)
Titus 2:3 – The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
1 Timothy 3:11 – Even so [must their] wives [be] grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
“Neither should you give the devil any occasion or opportunity for acting or performing (in your lives).”
This logically has to assume that the devil actually can be given opportunity to act and that this opportunity can be given by Christians! Of course, the majority of Christians today appear to consider that once a person is saved, he is no longer able to be significantly influenced by satan and his demons, if at all! In particular, the fundamentalist point of view is generally that demons cannot co-exist with the Holy Spirit in the one person, and therefore Christians cannot be demon-possessed. However, the word translated as “possessed with devils” or similar in the New Testament actually means to be under the influence or control of a spirit (which in Biblical usage is always assumed to be evil).
Matthew 8:16 – When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with [his] word, and healed all that were sick:
Thus, “possessed with devils” (or similar) should actually read “to be under the power of a demon or demons”.
The term does not signify possession, but influence or control. Ephesians 4:27 does teach that Christians (to whom Paul was writing – the “saints” at Ephesus) can give satan opportunity to act or perform in that person’s life. Clearly this is influence at the very least. 1 John 3:8 says that He that committeth sin is of the devil; and while John teaches that Christians should not sin, he is also teaching that if they do sin, they are giving the devil opportunity to act in their lives. Therefore, the message for Christians is this: do not (by sinning) give satan any opportunity to act or perform in your lives (that is, do not permit satan to have any influence or control over your lives).
It is impossible for Christians to sin without getting their fingers burnt, possibly badly!
Pulpit Commentary says that when we give place to the devil, we give him Place or room, opportunity and scope for acting in and through you.
Ephesians 4:28 – Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
labour – to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief); labour with wearisome effort.
If the Christian is to put aside lying and speak the truth, then he should also avoid living a life of lies and untruth. Stealing is dishonest, thus living a lie. Christians should not only say the right things but also do the actions to back up their talk. That is, practise what they preach!
Let him that used to steal not steal again. Let him do some honest manual labour instead. Let him grow weary and exhausted working with his own hands to produce some honest gain. In this way he may have something of value to give to another who has a genuine need for it.
Stealing may have been a way of life for some of these Gentiles before they were saved, and they may not have considered it a huge problem to continue, although maybe reduced in magnitude. Old habits die hard! And, what is stealing, anyway? Is it stealing to take a few pieces of equipment from your workplace, or maybe a towel from a hotel? What exactly did they see as stealing anyway? Paul, though, is telling them that if they need something, no matter how big or even trivial, to produce it from their own resources, even if it means a wearisome effort. For some people, an honest living is much more demanding than stealing!
Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
corrupt – rotten; putrefied; not fit for use; worthless.
good – good; useful; pleasant; agreeable; honourable; fulfilling the service demanded; free from guile or corruption.
It can be seen that “corrupt” is the opposite of “good” where one is putrefied and not fit for use, while the other is pleasant and useful. One is only fit for destroying people, while the other fulfils the service demanded for building up people, for the purpose of ministering grace (charis) to those listening (and attending to what is being said).
Our communications should be the fruit of our transformed lives. If we are genuine Christians, then our speech should demonstrate this.
James 3:10 – Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
The purpose of good (useful; pleasant; agreeable; free from corruption) communications is to build up (edify) people. Here it apparently means the members of the body of Christ, the Church, for the purpose of ministering grace to those hearing it.
Paul was to minister to them according to the grace that God had given him.
Ephesians 3:7 – Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
And that grace was given to Paul in order to pass it on to his hearers.
Ephesians 3:2 – If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
The gifts of the Spirit (charisma) are ministered by the grace (charis) of God.
1 Peter 4:10 – As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (where “gift” is charisma, literally of grace – charis)
Ephesians 4:30 – And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
grieve – affect with sadness; cause grief; offend
whereby – or “in whom”
sealed – set a seal upon; seal for security; seal to keep concealed (as in a letter); keep secret; set a mark upon by impress of seal or stamp; confirm; authenticate; place beyond doubt; prove a person’s identity or position.
This has the idea of being placed in a letter or container which is then closed. A drop of wax is dropped onto the opening and a unique imprint of a seal or stamp is placed upon that wax while it is still hot. Once the wax is cooled, the letter or container cannot be opened without breaking that wax seal, and extra wax may not be added unless that same unique seal or stamp can make its imprint upon on it. In this context, the sealed container would be the Christian.
redemption – deliverance; a releasing or liberation effected by the payment of the required ransom. Thus, the day of redemption would be that time still yet in the future when the final outcome of the redemption (already paid in the past) will be fully applied to the believer. This may be seen as the process of glorification.
What about the so-called eternal security of the believer? It is generally believed among fundamentalist believers that once you have been genuinely saved, you cannot be lost, ever. This is based upon a number of proof verses (as well as Ephesians 4:30) that demonstrate that (this is not an exhaustive list)
- God will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 – [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.)
- God will never allow anyone or anything to take us out of His hand (John 10:28-29 – 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.)
- and God will never permit anything to separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39 – 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.)
Does Ephesians 4:30 prove eternal security? On its own, this verse does appear to do so, yet does being sealed mean absolutely no way out of the contract? Note that in any such contract, only two parties had the right to break that seal. One was the party who set the seal (here it is the Holy Spirit) and the other was the recipient of the letter or container. The Holy Spirit has guaranteed (by the authority of the wax seal) that He will not break it before the day of redemption. That is, God will not leave you nor forsake you, nor will He let anyone or anything take you out of His hand. Effectively, God Himself will guard your salvation until the day of redemption.
But the seal is a contract between two parties, God and the Christian. In law, as I understand it, either party to the contract may personally negotiate with the other party to change the details of that contract. However, no outside party may negotiate any alteration to that contract without the knowledge, input and agreement of the two parties involved. God has promised He will not change that contract, nor is it possible for any outside party to change that contract. However, there is just one loophole here: can the believer himself renegotiate the contract (with God) if he so desires?
Are there any verses that prevent the believer from re-negotiating the contract? Not one verse appears to actually state that the believer cannot choose to lose his salvation! But are there verses that demonstrate that a believer can choose to lose his salvation? (For it is not sufficient to merely show that it is possible to choose to lose salvation. One must show scriptural evidence that such a choice may be made.)
For instance, Hebrews 5:11-6:8 does appear to teach that there are believers who fall away, not able to be renewed unto repentance again. In order to dismiss this implication, people teach that:
(a) Such people were never Christians in the first place.
But many of the attributes in Hebrews 6:4-5 do appear to be describing Christians. And, how may non-Christians never be renewed unto repentance again if they have never repented in the first place?
(b) While it does appear to teach that people may lose their salvation, it is, however, purely hypothetical.
But, even hypothetical situations must be possible or else they are imaginary or fantasy, not hypothetical. For a warning to be issued must mean that a danger exists. Even if no-one ever falls over a cliff, it does not negate the warning sign that says to be careful!
(c) It has nothing to do with evangelism.
This explanation (which I have personally heard) was not supported by any Scripture nor anything else for that matter. And whether or not it has to do with evangelism is totally irrelevant to the issue here. We’re talking about losing salvation, not finding it!
What about 2 Peter 2 which discusses false teachers who allure (entice) believers back to the world from which they had escaped (2 Peter 2:18)? Peter consequently says For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (2 Peter 2:21) It may be possible for this to be seen as perhaps those who are not actually Christians but instead adherents to the faith. But the obvious interpretation is that these are those who have partaken of the righteousness of God and then have rejected it. This position has to be proven impossible before it may be taught that such are not actually genuine Christians. And both this passage and Hebrews 6 teach that, if it is possible to lose one’s salvation, then it is impossible to ever have a second chance at being saved.
Also note Hebrews 10:26 – For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. How can this be talking about those who have refused the gospel? Can we only reject the gospel once? Or is it talking about rejecting our salvation?
What about the taking up of our crosses daily and following Jesus? (Luke 9:23-26) Why, in that same passage, does it offer a choice between the world and your soul (also see Matthew 16:24-28)?
Luke 9:25 – For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away (literally “be lost”)?
Matthew 16:26a – For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
What has this to do with taking up your cross and following Jesus? We have to assume that such people are Christians, for non-Christians cannot take up their crosses and follow Jesus! And therefore, a Christian may gain the world yet lose his soul? Or is this just another hypothetical situation? How many “hypothetical” situations must we have before people begin to realise that the reality may be otherwise?
Before a person may teach the eternal security of the believer as a doctrine, he must firstly demonstrate that it is scripturally impossible for the believer himself to desire the world so much that he is prepared to give up his soul in exchange. In order to teach the assured eternal security of the believer, it must be demonstrated that a person can have no free will to choose for himself to lose his salvation. Otherwise, eternal security remains a personal interpretation and not a doctrine (noting that a doctrine must be consistent across all the Bible).
Ephesians 4:31 – Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
bitter – pikria (bitter gall; extreme wickedness; bitter fruit; bitter hatred) cf picric acid
wrath – passion; anger that boils up and soon subsides again; the wine of passion, inflaming wine.
clamour – outcry; violent assertions of right or wrong; shouting down the opposition.
evil speaking – slander; impious speech; reproachful speech
malice – ill will; desire to injure; wickedness (esp. not afraid to break laws); depravity.
“Let all bitter hatred and hot-tempered anger and angry indignation and the shouting down of others, and slanderous speech, be put away (taken away) from you, together with all your ill-will and desire to hurt others (around you).”
Colossians 3:8 – But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Ephesians 4:32 – And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
kind – fit for use; useful; virtuous; pleasant; kind; benevolent.
tender-hearted – or compassionate
“And be benevolent (useful) to each other, tender-hearted (compassionate), forgiving each other according as (seeing that) God has for the sake of Christ forgiven you.”
Treat others as you would like those others to be treating you!
Luke 6:31 – And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
If God has forgiven you for no other reason than he loves you, then likewise you forgive others for no other reason than you love them!
Note, forgiveness is on the basis of repentance. If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (Luke 17:4).
Of course, the calvinists could only love those whom God loves, for how could they love those whom God hated enough to choose for eternity in hell? It’s fortunate (is that the right word?) for the calvinist that this verse appears to be teaching about only the elect, for the calvinist can only truly love his fellow-elect! (For if the calvinist truly loved any non-elect person, then he would be guilty of being more loving than the calvinist God!)