Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rules for the New Life

Ephesians 4:25-32

The title of today's study comes with caution and exhortation.  Caution, that we do not fall into the trap of legalism and thus render the cross ineffective, and exhortation, that we check ourselves to see whether or not we are increasing in these things -- and then only through the Holy Spirit working in us.

Ephesians 4
25 And so, putting away false words, let everyone say what is true to his neighbour: for we are parts one of another.
26 Be angry without doing wrong; let not the sun go down on your wrath;
27 And do not give way to the Evil One.
28 Let him who was a thief be so no longer, but let him do good work with his hands, so that he may have something to give to him who is in need.
29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good for giving necessary teaching, and for grace to those who give ear.
30 And do not give grief to the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were marked for the day of salvation.
31 Let all bitter, sharp and angry feeling, and noise, and evil words, be put away from you, with all unkind acts;
32 And be kind to one another, full of pity, having forgiveness for one another, even as God in Christ had forgiveness for you.  (BBE, Bible in Basic English, 1965)

25 διο αποθεμενοι το ψευδος λαλειτε αληθειαν εκαστος μετα του πλησιον αυτου οτι εσμεν αλληλων μελη 26 οργιζεσθε και μη αμαρτανετε ο ηλιος μη επιδυετω επι παροργισμω υμων 27 μηδε διδοτε τοπον τω διαβολω 28 ο κλεπτων μηκετι κλεπτετω μαλλον δε κοπιατω εργαζομενος ταις χερσιν το αγαθον ινα εχη μεταδιδοναι τω χρειαν εχοντι 29 πας λογος σαπρος εκ του στοματος υμων μη εκπορευεσθω αλλα ει τις αγαθος προς οικοδομην της χρειας ινα δω χαριν τοις ακουουσιν 30 και μη λυπειτε το πνευμα το αγιον του θεου εν ω εσφραγισθητε εις ημεραν απολυτρωσεως 31 πασα πικρια και θυμος και οργη και κραυγη και βλασφημια αρθητω αφ υμων συν παση κακια 32 γινεσθε [δε] εις αλληλους χρηστοι ευσπλαγχνοι χαριζομενοι εαυτοις καθως και ο θεος εν χριστω εχαρισατο υμιν (WHNU) 

As Paul has previously contrasted the old and new life, the new life being wrought from within through Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, he also takes a moment to illustrate the "practical" manifestations of the difference between the two lives.  With each imperative (the imperative verb form is found at least one time in each verse, a total of nine instances in the passage) to do what the new life produces, there is a reminder (and sometimes imperative) of what we are to leave behind with respect to the old life.

Verse 25: BBE: "...putting away false words...", WHNU, translated, "...putting away the lying...".  To me, the Greek rendering broadens the statement to all forms of deceit and craftiness.  The word for "the lying" is singular in the Greek, while the participle preceding it is plural.  It makes for an unusual participle phrase in that the participle and noun do not match in number, hence, I think, it is intended to encompass all forms of shadowy behavior, not only the words we speak.  Yet, we are to "...say what is true to his neighbor, for we are parts of one another..." BBE.  The Greek is stronger, "...speak truth (broader in context) each with his neighbor..."  The rationale?  We are each a part of one another in the Body of Christ.  The arm does not deceive the leg, why should we deceive one another?

Verse 26: One can be angry and not sin.  Jesus was clearly angry when He cleansed the Temple, but He did not sin.  It is not easy to be angry and not sin, so be cautious.

Verse 27: "do not give way to the Evil One" BBE.  A literal translation of the Greek, "No longer give a place to the devil".  How do we give the devil "a place", "a way"?  When we place ourselves, by our own actions, into a situation clearly against the will and Spirit of God.  We know it when we do it, because the Holy Spirit speaks to us in that hour, and we argue with Him about our "rightness".  That is when you know...

Verse 29:  The easiest thing a human can do is criticize.  We criticize anyone and anything at the drop of a hat.  It takes no wisdom, no great knowledge, no skills, no abilities -- to criticize is as natural to us as breathing.  What is "un-natural" to our nature?  To build up others with our words.  The old life, it is natural to tear down others; the new life, gives us power to build up others.

Verse 30: "and do not give grief to the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were marked for the day of salvation" BBE; "do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you have been marked (with a seal/signet) into the day of salvation".  No discussion of lost salvation here, but a reminder of the intimacy of the relationship, and the great work which has already been done for us.  Only an ungrateful and immature person would slight another who had done so much for them.

Verse 32: Our lives should, toward one another, mirror The Life that has done it all for us. Period.

Grace and peace be with you all.