The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
August 19, 2012


1) Ephesians 4:25-30 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Ephesians 4:25-30
by Tom Edwards

In showing more of what is to distinguish the "new self," Paul then expresses in Ephesians 4:25, "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another."

God, of course, hates all sin; but sometimes specific sins are mentioned in the Bible as being that which the Lord abhors.  For instance, among seven that Solomon lists in Proverbs 6:16-19 are included, "a lying tongue" and "a false witness who utters lies."  So these are grouped along with "Haughty eyes," "hands that shed innocent blood," "A heart that devises wicked plans," "Feet that run rapidly to evil," "And one who spreads strife among brothers," which are all an abomination to God.  Lying, therefore, is more seriously wrong than many people realize.  

For lying is not only detrimental to one's relationship with God, but also with humanity, because those known to be liars lose credibility and trustworthiness -- especially habitual liars.  Their many falsehoods lend doubt to even the truthful statements they make -- and, thus, relationships with others are ruined.  And would we all not rather prefer having good relationships with those whom we can believe and have confidence in, rather than otherwise?

Children of God are to model their lives after the Lord, of whom it is said, "who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth" (1 Pet. 2:21).   So this should also be true of us, as Peter admonishes in 1 Peter 3:10: "For, 'THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT."  As you probably recall, Nathanael was one whom the Lord refers to in John 1:47 as being without "guile," "deceit," or "falsehood."  Honesty truly is a virtue worth possessing.  We may not have wealth, fame, nor worldly power; but if we have honesty, we have something of even far greater value -- and even if it means sacrificing or suffering for. 

The importance of speaking truth can also be seen in Revelation 21:8: "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."  Obviously, this doesn't look like a good category to be in.  

In addition, to be given to lying, puts one in league with the devil; for Jesus says of him in John 8:44 that Satan "does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies."  And anyone else who lies will also end up in the same place of torment as the devil.  For, according to Matthew 25:41, "the eternal fire" has actually "been prepared for the devil and his angels"; but it is also where all lost souls will spend an eternity.

Notice what Paul then says in Ephesians 4:26,27: "BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity."

Not all anger is sinful.  For instance, God Himself has a righteous indignation toward sin.  One example of this can be seen in Mark 3:5.  It states, "After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.'   And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored."  It was a miracle.  But rather than rejoicing in this man's healing, these people sought to find fault in Jesus for doing this on the Sabbath Day.  Instead of having compassion, their hearts were hardened -- and Jesus was angry and grieved at that.  The Bible also declares in Psalm 7:11 that "God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day."  The NKJV renders this latter portion as, "And God is angry (with the wicked) every day."  Though not in the original, the parenthetical phrase "with the wicked" is implied.  For of what else would God be angry?

Even with a righteous anger, however, man must be careful that it doesn't become an ungodly one. For consider what James instructs in James 1:19,20: "This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."   Therefore, Paul urges that those who are angry not allow the sun to go down on their anger. In other words, don't harbor that anger throughout the night.  For if they do so, that is one way of giving the devil an "opportunity" (Eph. 4:27).  For instance, what if a man started out with a righteous anger, but ended up in carrying out a personal revenge? To do so would be wrong.  For that would be violating the Lord's instruction to "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,' says the Lord" (Rom. 12:19).  But it is easy to see how that even man's righteous anger could become a vulnerable area for Satan to work his temptations in, leading that person to some wrongful thoughts and actions, when that anger is prolonged.  As David Lipscomb writes, anger "being harbored and kept alive, soon degenerates into malice and hatred which is always exceedingly sinful."  So we must be on guard for that and not give the devil an occasion for our stumbling.  For prolonged anger can become like a chink in the Christian's armor.  

Paul then instructs in Ephesians 4:28 that "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need."

Notice, from this verse, that one is to labor not only to meet his own needs, but also so he can help meet the needs of the less fortunate.  We, as Christians, are to be a benevolent people.  Take a look, for example, at Acts 20:35: "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"  And our benevolence, as individual Christians, is to extend beyond the realm of our brethren.  For Paul states in  Galatians 6:10, "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."

Paul then talks about one's speech in Ephesians 4:29, by saying, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."

What is an "unwholesome word"? "Unwholesome" is from the Greek word "sapros," which Thayer defines thirdly as "of poor quality, bad, unfit for use, worthless."  The ASV renders "unwholesome word" as "corrupt speech."  It is also translated as "rotten word," "evil talk," "dirty talk," "filthy talk," as well as other renderings.  It is the same Greek word that Jesus used in referring to a "bad" tree that bears "bad" fruit (Matt. 7:17).  Paul speaks more of this wrong kind of speech in the very next chapter: "and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks" (Eph. 5:4).  We, therefore, need to be concerned of our speech.  For we will not only be judged according to our actions, but also according to what we say.  Therefore, notice Paul's exhortation in Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do in WORD or DEED, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (emphasis mine).  So to do all in His name, whether by word or deed, means that we say and do only those things which His word would authorize -- those things that would not be sinful.  

Instead of speaking unwholesome words, Paul emphasizes words that are good for edification and needful.  God's word itself has the power to edify, according to Acts 20:32.  In this verse, Paul commends the Ephesian elders to God and to the word of His grace, "which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."  And realize, too, that these men were spiritually mature enough in the Lord to serve as elders in the church, but they still could be built up even more in their relationship with God, as they continued in His word.  So let us not ever think that we have reached a spiritual plateau on which we have no more need to look into the Scriptures.  

The right encouraging words can also help to edify: "Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing" (1 Thess. 5:11).  Building up the brethren, which each individual Christian is to strive to do, is one of the reasons why we assemble.  Notice, for instance, 1 Corinthians 14:26: "What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification."  This is said pertaining to the time when Christians had miraculous gifts, but doesn't the principle of edification still apply today?  All that we do in our Bible classes and assemblies should be for the upbuilding of one another, as we strive to study together, worship, and please God.  

Paul shows in Ephesians 4:29 that this needed, edifying word was also for the purpose of giving "grace to those who hear."  So grace can be increased in our lives.  As Paul shows in this verse, that needful edifying word can "give grace."  To, therefore, increase in grace through God's word might also remind you of Peter's closing exhortation in 2 Peter 3:18 to "...grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...."  And as we think of God's grace coming to us through His word, consider 2 Peter 1:2: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."  Sometimes God's word itself is referred to as "grace": "Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3).  

And not only should we be thinking of our brethren who can benefit from the word of God's grace, but also of those who are in the bondage of their iniquities. As James Coffman writes, "The Christian should never lose sight of the sad fact of a world lost in sin, without the Lord, needing some word, some ray of light, some word of grace that will point to the Lamb of God that takes away sin."

Ephesians 4:29 very much parallels with what Paul instructs in Colossians 4:6: "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."

The term "grace" is defined by E.W. Bullinger as "a kind, affectionate, pleasing nature and inclining disposition, either in person or thing.  Objectively it denotes, personal gracefulness, a pleasing work, beauty of speech, etc.  Subjectively it means an inclining towards, courteous or gracious disposition, friendly willingness; on the part of the giver of a favor, kindness...; on the part of the receiver, thanks."

In this verse, Paul speaks about speech being "seasoned" as though "with salt."  In thinking of salt's literal uses, it preserves food and gives more flavor to it.  So, in a figurative sense, it can make one's speech more pleasant and agreeable, as to not intentionally offend.  But as we look again at this verse, it appears that the phrase "as though seasoned with salt" is referring to the grace that is added to one's speech; and that grace being kindness, affection, a pleasing nature, courteous, etc.  The "as though" is in italics in the NASB, showing it is not in the original; but it is in agreement with the meaning of the passage, for it is not literal salt that is added to our speech.  The Weymouth New Testament makes this clear when it renders the passage as "Let your language be always seasoned with the salt of grace, so that you may know how to give every man a fitting answer."  

As we think about speaking the right words at the right time, notice how this is expressed in the following verses: "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances" (Prov. 25:11).  It appears that that would be a beautiful thing to Solomon.  Consider also Proverbs 15:23: "A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!"  An "apt answer" is one that is "suited to the purpose or occasion" (Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary).  The Contemporary English Version renders this as "Giving the right answer at the right time makes everyone happy." Solomon also declares in Proverbs 10:31,32, "The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted."  Having the right words was something that David was prayerfully concerned about, according to Psalm 19:14: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."

As he continues in his exhortation, Paul then urges the brethren to "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30).  

Recently, we pointed out that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person and not merely a power, like electricity, as some people think.  And can that not also be inferred from this passage?  For the Holy Spirit can be grieved!  But could a mere power, such as gravity or electricity, be distressed or sorrowed?  Not only is the Holy Spirit a person, but He is also as much Deity as God the Father is, and of whom we know also can be grieved.  For example, Genesis 6:6: "The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart."  Consider also Psalm 78:40,41: "How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness And grieved Him in the desert!  Again and again they tempted God, And pained the Holy One of Israel."  And when it comes to Jesus, He can be grieved, too, as seen in Luke 13:33,34: "Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!"  Did their choosing to remain in their lost condition cause grief to the Lord?   Compare Luke 19:41-44: "And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.  For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

Let us take heed to the instruction in God's word so that we will not grieve the Lord by our rejection of it.   In our lesson today, we saw the need to speak truth, rather than falsehood; to not let the sun set on our anger (that it not become an opportunity for Satan and evolve into sin); to not steal, but to labor (so as to provide not only for ourselves, but also to help the needy); to refrain from unwholesome words and, instead, speak those which edify; and to not bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit by living wrongfully.  For to live according to the Scriptures is how we follow the path that leads to heaven and are enabled to receive God's help along the way. 


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember these following people in prayer:

Linda Lefort (Harris Lefort's sister-in-law) who has throat cancer, fluid buildup, and is receiving hospice care; Bill Barfield (Virginia Fontenot's brother) who was admitted to ICU last March and has been in a step-down unit ever since; Virginia Fontenot (Linda Blevins' mother) who was recently in the emergency room, due to a fall, and is now recovering from vertigo; Jean Calloway, who has been having a foot problem; Shirley Young, who experiences fibromyalgia every day; and Cheryl Crews, who has various health problems.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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