We share our opinions and insights at SBC Voices, but we believe that the Voice that matters most is the one that comes from God’s Word. We present these daily expositional devotions, beginning with a tour of Ephesians called, “Walk Worthy,” in hopes of encouraging our readers to remember to Voice above every voice.
Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity. Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger, and wrath shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
I was saved and baptized when I was ten years old. I had no idea what sanctification meant, and I probably couldn’t even have spelled it, but there I was, dripping wet, standing on the steps of the baptistery at Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas. My pastor said, “You have been raised to walk in the newness of life in Christ Jesus.” I had no idea what that meant.
If Paul had stopped this pericope at verse 24, the Ephesians would have been as ignorant as I was about sanctification. Paul uses general phrase such as “former way” and “old self” in the first half of this section. What does “new self” mean? What does the new self look like?
Paul is glad we asked. He’s going to tell us what the new self looks like. The difference between verses 17-24 and verses 25-32 is the difference between me claiming that Aaron Judge is a great hitter, and me saying he has a .301 batting average. The Bible says in James 2:14, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save Him?” Paul lists some works in these eight verses.
First, do not lie, but speak the truth to your neighbor. Why is this listed first? We do more damage to our relationships when we lie than any other sin listed other sin listed here. This sin, I believe, is also the most common of the sins listed here.
We should seek to be husbands, fathers, and friends of character. Notice I did not mention pastors. If we would be husbands, fathers, and friends of character, then being pastors of character would take care of itself. I’ve hurt my wife the most not when I’ve gotten angry with her, but when I’ve lied to her.
Then Paul admonishes us to be angry yet do not sin. Notice he does not forbid anger, but forbids the sin that so often accompanies anger. How can we be angry and not sin? The answer to that question is in the next phrase, don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. Don’t dwell on your anger.
There is more anger these days than I’ve ever seen in the SBC. There is more anger today than I’ve ever seen among fellow Christians. We constantly shout at one another through social media, and with every vitriolic post, the devil’s toes dig deeper into our relationships.
I had a conversation with a gentleman who comes to our Wednesday night Bible Study. He’s not an SBCer, but he’s been following the news and he said, “You’re going to be out of a job in 2021 because the SBC will be no more.” I laughed and said, “I don’t think you understand the SBC. It’s just a convention, a cooperating group of churches. If we had to take SBC off our sign tomorrow, I’d still be a preacher.”
I didn’t get to all the verses in this passage, but the first three are especially pertinent for us as we head towards our annual meeting. Dave Miller has written and pleaded with us for unity and I want to close this post with three similar pleas:
- Remember Ephesians 2:10—For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
- Remember Ephesians 4:26—Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.
- Remember Ephesians 4:32—And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
I don’t care if you read one word I’ve written, as long as you read and remember what God has written.