Ephesians 4:27


Monday, 26 September 2016

…nor give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:27

The word diabolos, or devil, means “slanderer.” In this case, it is used with an article to indicate “The Slanderer,” or “The Devil.” He is recognized as the same as Satan, a name which Paul uses throughout his writings. The name “Satan” describes one of his methods of working evil; he is “The Accuser.” Thus he stands accusing man before God, and he also strives to set man against man. The title, “The Devil,” describes the one who introduces enmity into man through slander.

To “give place to the devil” is to allow him to work his wickedness in one’s life. It is allowing the heart to be influenced by his evil intent. This is done through a variety of means. Paul has already addressed putting away lying, and not allowing the sun to go down on one’s wrath. If we fail to do these things, the devil will certainly seize his opportunity to enter the situation and cause trouble to arise.

He will continue with a list of things which could allow the devil to find a place in our heart. In the end, if it we do something opposed to God and His word, we are allowing ourselves to be opened up to the work of the devil. In fixing our eyes on Jesus, and in contemplating the word of God day and night, we will have our hearts open to Him and shut to the devil.

Life application: The Bible acknowledges that the devil and demons are real. As this is so, we need to heed the commands and exhortations of the Bible lest we get sideswiped by these miscreants. And the only way to do this is to know what these commands and exhortations state. Read and know your Bible.

Lord God, Your word tells us that Satan is real and that he has control over a vast army of foes who stand opposed to our relationship with You. As this is true, only in knowing Your word and what it warns concerning his wicked ways can we be safe from his influence in our lives. What a tragedy it is that we have time to attend a football game where we spur on our heroes and rail against our foes, and yet we don’t have time to read Your word which tells us of a much, much more important battle. Help us to get our priorities right. Help us to think clearly on this. Amen.

Ephesians 4:26


Sunday, 25 September 2016

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, Ephesians 4:26

Paul now reaches back to the psalms for a necessary thought concerning his discourse. This is a citation from the Greek translation of Psalm 4:4. Here he uses two different words to describe the emotions. The first is “angry” and conveys the sense of showing “settled opposition.” It “is positive when inspired by God – and always negative when arising from the flesh” (HELPS Word Studies). The second is “wrath,” and it conveys the sense of “irritation (exasperation, bitterness) which is provoked, i.e. by someone causing a personal (‘up-close’) sense of anger” (HELPS Word Studies).

Paul says that we are to in fact be angry when it is right and proper to be angry. If we have a godly anger towards something, we are showing a correct attitude, not a negative one. Our anger at the sinful nature is not only anticipated, but it is expected and approved of. It is not sinful to be filled with righteous indignation. However, in our anger we are told “do not sin.” We should not let our anger at the sinfulness of another cause us to sin.

A good example of this is that we are to be angered at the vile conduct of those who oppose God through such things as the support of abortion. As this is a tenet expressly stated, for example, in the platform of the Democrat party of the US, we are to be angry at all democrats for supporting the murder of the unborn. And yet, we are not to allow our anger at them to turn into sin through violence or vulgarity.

Paul then tells us to “not let the sun go down on your wrath.” As noted, this indicates irritation which is provoked. When we allow ourselves to become exasperated to the point where it consumes us, we lose our direction and our focus. Instead of thinking on the things of God, we think on the things of the fallen world. If we continue in this state, it will eventually push out everything else. And so, in order to keep that from happening, we are to put our irritation aside and not dwell on it.

Paul uses a known custom of the times to demonstrate how to do this. The Pythagoreans bound themselves to find reconciliation to their differences before the sun set. They would shake hands, or find some other token which would bring about peace. Thus, the bitterness that could well up in the night would be quieted before it could get out of control. This is a sentiment not unlike the second half of Psalm 4:4 –

“Be angry, and do not sin.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah”

In meditating on what is good, pleasing, holy, and pure, the things which caused us to get riled up will fade away.

Life application: Carrying around bitterness for an extended period of time will inevitably cause harm to the one carrying it. It may also result in physical acts which will later be regretted. The more we carry such anger, the more rash and impulsive we are likely to become.

Lord God, help us to fulfill Your word which tells us to not let the sun go down on our wrath. Surely carrying around bitter thoughts of those who offend us can only poison our souls. And more, this could cause us to do something which You would regard as sin. Let us not be so consumed in this way. Let our anger be righteous and godly, but never sinful. This is not an easy command to fulfill, so be with us at such times we pray. Amen.



Ephesians 4:25


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:25

“Therefore” is given as a summary of the previous few verses which provided the thought that “the truth is in Jesus.” Now, Paul admonishes us to (according to the Greek) “put away the lie.” Here, the abstract “the lie” is used to contrast truth which is found in Jesus. If we are in Christ, we are to emulate Him. The lie is incompatible with truth and therefore we are to put it away.

Instead, we are instructed to “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.” The term neighbor is referring to believers as is revealed in the next words, “for we are members of one another.” However, despite referring specifically to believers, lying is to be completely removed from our lives. We are to deal in truth at all times and avoid any hint of dishonesty. Jesus shows us in John 8:44 that lying is of the devil. We are to have no part of his wicked way, but are to fully and faithfully put on Christ and emulate Him.

Concerning the specific context of lying mentioned by Paul here, that of lying to members of the one body, it would be contrary for a hand to lie to the other hand. If a task needed to be accomplished with two hands, one of them would need the help of the other. But if the left lied to the right, the job could never get finished. If the eye saw a shoe waiting to be put on a foot, but told the foot that it didn’t see the shoe, then the foot would never receive its shoe and the happy time at the restaurant would be missed by the whole body. In other words, the body of believers is an interconnected whole. It is contrary to the aims of the body for one part of it to lie to another.

Life application: When a lie enters between two people, a bond of trust is ended. It is extremely hard to repair such a rift because a lie is so personal. If a person cannot be trusted with the truth, there is no basis for any true relationship at all. There will normally only be distrust from that point on. Healing such a rift can take an extremely long time, or it may never come about at all. Let us be careful to be honest in our dealings with others at all times.

Heavenly Father, Your word asks us to put away lying and to always speak the truth. How difficult it is when we have been lied to. A bond of trust is broken and the rift is a hard one to heal. When lying becomes our nature, no trust at all can ever come about. This is the devil’s joy, but it is a point of sorrow for the offended. And so help us to reside in truth as a dwelling place, and to speak the truth as our new nature in Christ demands. And, Lord, be there reminding us of this in our consciences always. Amen.


Ephesians 4:24


Friday, 23 September 2016

…and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24

In verse 22, we were told to put off the old man. If we do this, something must logically replace it. As he has just asked us to be “renewed in the spirit of your mind,” Paul now bolsters that thought with, “…and that you put on the new man.” In stating “the new man,” he is referring to being conformed to the image of Christ. The “old man” is the Adam in us with all of his weaknesses, failings, and corruption. The “new man” is Christ in us, anticipating that which still lies ahead, but which we can emulate even now. Paul refers to the contrast between these two in 1 Corinthians 15:46-49 –

“However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Although Paul speaks of this as future, that only means in the fullest sense. When we come to Christ, we move positionally to Christ. This is seen, for example, in Galatians 3:27 as well as in other passages from Paul’s hand. As we move in position from Adam to Christ, we are instructed to live now as if it is already fully realized.

This “new man” is plainly stated next as being “according to God.” Adam was created by God, but Adam disobeyed Him. In his disobedience, he was immediately spiritually disconnected from God (he spiritually died). He further was condemned to die physically; he took on the nature of corruption leading to death. Christ, in contrast, was perfectly obedient to His Father. In His obedience, His life was lived “according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” This is what we are asked to emulate now.

We have put on Christ and thus we are to live according to how Christ lived. This new life that we are to live will be further explained in the verses ahead. We are not just given an exhortation without explanation. Rather, we are given the overall picture of how we are to live, and then this is followed up with practical details which we can follow in order to live out our lives in a manner which is pleasing to God.

Life application: Paul’s words here are exhortations for us to live in a manner which is pleasing to our Creator. But just as important for us, they are given so that we can live without further troubles in our lives. If we follow the proper path, it is obvious that we will avoid many pitfalls which could otherwise come our way. However, the only way to know this proper path is to read the map which leads us on it. Read your Bible.

Heavenly Father, You have asked us to walk on a certain path which will keep us from displeasing You, and which will also keep us from our own set of troubles and trials which are sure to come if we don’t follow it. And yet, how can we know how to properly follow the path unless we read the map which guides us on it? Are we so dull as to assume that we can be pleasing to You and be kept from troubles without reading Your word and applying it to our lives? Help us to not be dull. Instead, make us wise through a constant study of Your word! Amen.


Ephesians 4:23


Thursday, 22 September 2016

…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, Ephesians 4:23

This is an exhortation from Paul, and thus “the spirit of your mind” is not speaking of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, those translations which capitalize “Spirit” here are incorrect. Man is not ever considered the subject of the Holy Spirit. The times when the Holy Spirit is mentioned, the subject is in relation to God and His redemptive work.

Understanding this, he exhorts the reader to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” HELPS Word Studies defines the word translated as “be renewed” (which is found only here in the New Testament) as to “make new in relation to time.”  They note that “believers are reminded of God’s continuous offer to bring new strides in their sanctification through ‘sanctified reasoning’ – raising the meaning up to new levels of spiritual comprehension and reality.”

This sanctifying renewal of the mind is something that we must work at. People who look to the Holy Spirit as the sole means of sanctification in this manner have misunderstood what it means to be a sound follower of Christ. We do not get an external injection of holiness as we walk in this life. Rather we are to actively pursue it through our own moral activity. The spirit referred to is “the higher life-principle in man by which the human reason, viewed on its moral side – the organ of moral thinking and knowing is informed” (Vincent’s Word Studies).

So how do we do what is necessary to be renewed in this way? Where does the knowledge for what we are to do come from? Obviously it is from a study of Scripture. It was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for our benefit. In other words, though we actively are to be renewed in this manner, it is the Spirit of God who passively participates in this process. Again, Christians err when they believe that all they need to do is snap their fingers and all of the benefits of the Holy Spirit will pour down upon them. Hence we have weak churches filled with weak Christians because study of the word is relegated to an afterthought instead of being our chief means of doing exactly what we are instructed to do.

Life application: Mature Christians will look for sound preachers and teachers to instruct them in the words of Scripture, and they will supplement what they have learned through their own studies in the word. In doing so, they will have the right moral compass by which they can effectively renew the spirit of their mind.

Lord God, You ask us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Without a detailed and continuous study of Your word, that isn’t going to happen. And so give us the desire to pursue You through this marvelous gift which You have given to us. Forgive us for neglecting the means by which You have made this renewing possible. Now, spur us on to get into the word, study it, and apply it to every facet of our lives. With this You will surely be pleased. Amen.