25Therefore, putting away lies, let each of you speak truth to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26Be angry and sin not; do not let the sun set on your anger. 27Neither give place to the devil. 28Let the thief steal no more, but labor at honest work with his own hands, in order that he might have something to give the one in need. 29Let no corrupt talk come from your mouth, but what is good for building up, as fits the occasion, in order to give grace to those who hear. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you are sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let every bitterness and rage and wrath and yelling and blasphemy be set aside from you, together with every evil. 32Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God also in Christ forgave you. 5 1Be therefore imitators of God as beloved children, 2and walk in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us, a fragrant offering and sweet-smelling sacrifice. 3But sexual immorality and all impurity must not be mentioned among you, as is fitting for saints. 4Let there be no obscenity and foolish or vulgar talk, as is not proper, but rather thanksgiving. 5For you can be sure of this: that all who are sexually immoral or impure or greedy or idolatrous, have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
This section of Ephesians features Paul exhorting the Ephesian Christians to pattern their lives after specific examples of Christlikeness. These examples are communicated in a pattern of “put off/put on,” or a negative followed by a positive. For example, the Ephesians are to put off lying, but put on truth (25). The truth that they are to speak is not only the simple truth, but also the truth of God’s grace in Christ, which Paul has been careful to tell for the first three chapters of this book. The foundation or rationale for this truth-telling (which we sometimes call evangelism) is our oneness in Christ. The Ephesian Christians are also told to not be ruled by their passions. As Mark Roberts puts it, “unresolved anger opens up a place for the devil to dwell in us and in our relationships. Smoldering anger provides a foundation for Satan to do his work of dividing, distressing, and distracting us.” The Ephesian Christians are also to cease stealing, if they are doing so, and to start working. Notice that “work” is not about money or caring for the poor or earning or saving or taking care of oneself. Rather, the implication in this passage is that work is central to our reason for living, inasmuch as God gives purpose to work. He created them to work, and therefore when they are working, their hands are engaged in something useful. This is why the Puritans often said “idleness is the devil’s workshop.” The Ephesian Christians were to cease unwholesome talk, which is defined from the Greek as the kind of speech that harms and hurts others….as contrasted by the second clause, which tells them to build up one another. When Christians wound others with their speech, this grieves the Spirit. Since God so cared for others that He gave His Son for them, then so should the Ephesian Christians care about each other as well. The kingdom of Christ, after all, is for those who are governed by love. Those who walk in such love are inheritors of it.
Look simply at the exhortations here.
- Don’t lie, but speak truth—especially the truth of God’s grace in Christ
- Don’t be ruled by passions, which always seek to put your own good ahead of the good of others
- Go to work; it’s good for you
- Watch your speech; make sure you’re not harming others, but rather building them up
- Be governed by love—this means putting others ahead of the self
When we govern our passions, we are being shaped by the Spirit’s fruit of self-control. When we work, we are engaged in healthy activity that brings purpose to our time on earth. When we consider others more important than ourselves, we are governed by love rather than passions. This is the still the way that mature Christians learn to walk. When we do so, we are being molded by the self-control that comes from God’s Holy Spirit.