In my sermon series on the letter to the Ephesians, we are at the end of chapter 4. Paul is giving more of his guidance for living this new life in Christ he has been telling us about.
Paul starts out by saying, “Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
In other words, “Do not lie to someone, but tell the truth always, because we are one family.” When you lie to someone, you hurt not only that person, but you hurt yourself, too.
Have you ever known someone who lies all the time? I have. Someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol learns to lie to cover up their addiction. Some are so practiced that they begin to believe their own lies. Sometimes they are very convincing, and if you challenge them they will deny it with a vengeance.
Paul has been teaching us in this letter to the Ephesians that we are one in the Spirit. You may remember that Paul wrote earlier in this chapter that we should be renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we have put off our old natures, and that we are members one of another.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of us all.”
And we are one family of the Lord, members one of another. We are the Church, which is one. Remember the marks of the Church? The church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.
Paul goes on to say, “Be angry, but do not sin;” Paul seems to contradict himself here, saying it’s ok to be angry at someone, but actually he saying there must be limits to our anger. He knows that we will be angry sometimes. That is human nature, but we must not let it get out of control.
We are not to let our anger drive us into sin by harming each other. Remember, one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Sometimes we may let our anger just build and build until it boils over and does some real harm. That is why Paul told us not to let the sun set on our anger, because if it is held over until the next day, it will only get worse. We must learn to let it go, else it will consume us.
The next bit of advise about living this new life is about the repentance of a thief. In his former way of life, the thief steals from others to get what hie needs. Now, the thief must no longer steal. He needs to find work, to earn his money honestly, and he needs to give some of that money to the poor who cannot work.
This next one is tough! Let no evil talk come out of your mouth. And it is usually anger that fuels that evil talk, isn’t it? If we can control our anger, then we can control our mouths. As Christians who have put on our new selves, we should try to use language that will build up others, and give them grace.
Then St. Paul tells us we should not grieve the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption. At our baptisms, we were sealed with the HolySpirit, and marked as Christ’s own forever, so we should not give him any grief!
Thomas Aquinas said that the proper Name of the Holy Ghost is “Love,” just as Word is the proper Name of the Son.
St. Paul then tells us to be good to each other. Forget about bitterness and anger, and don’t slander each other, but instead treat each other with kindness and tenderness. And he reminds us to forgive each other, because we have been forgiven by God in Christ.
To sum it up, we should try to imitate God as his beloved children. This doesn’t mean we are to make ourselves into God by imitation, but rather to follow the ways of our Heavenly Father, to try to have his goodness and kindness, and his forgiving nature.
The last verse in our reading today concerns how we should live; “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
To walk is the same as to live. Live a life full of love, just as Jesus loves us and gave himself as a sacrifice to God.
These are good bits of advice for us to live by in our walk toward holiness with the Father. Our sanctification is a life long process.