Ephesians 4:17-32 (NKJV)
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of[a] the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkeEned, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,”[b] for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”:[c] do not let the sun go down on your wrath,27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
I have this habit, while reading the Bible to my family (and even when I read to my self), to stress the "do-this/don't-do-that" verses. My tone becomes that of a command. My intentional pauses create a verbal bullet list. I like creating concrete lists from God's word. My short attention span that has a bad habit of skimming while reading also likes lists.
So before looking at the list that formulates in my mind while reading the above passage, we have to look at what comes before the list. The word THEREFORE tells me to look at the previous verse (or verses) to find what the following list pertains to.
In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul is commanding us to not live as the world lives. Don't live in ignorance and in blindness with a hardened heart, separated from God. The King James Version writes verse 19 in this way, "Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." Ah, another bullet list.....
- Open your eyes!
- Be Wise!
- Harden your heart. Don't become desensitized to the evils/sins in the world.
- Lasciviousness (lustful)
Verses 20-24 reminds us that the above "don't list" is "no life for you. You learned Christ!" (as translated by The Message). In my twenties I wandered away from Christ. I thought I could do life better my way. I hardened my heart, I buried what I knew and followed my own lustful desires only to find that I was always searching for something to fill me. And HE was there patiently waiting for me.
In Verses 20-23, Paul is reminding us, followers of Christ, that we KNOW Him. We know that He came to save us from our sins and that through faith in Him we have also been crucified. Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, " I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I know live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." I want to end that sentence with an BIG exclamation point! Isn't that a great truth? This is what is means to KNOW Christ.
- Don't lie/do be truthful
- Be angry but don't sin ~ don't let the sun go down on your wrath and don't give the devil a place to reside!
- Let the thief no longer steal but labor with his hands, giving to those in need
- Don't not speak corrupt words
- Speak what is good for edification and impart grace
- Do not grieve (push away/ignore/reject) the Holy Spirit
- Do not speak with bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor or evil
- Be kind to one another
- Be tenderhearted
- FORGIVE as GOD in CHRIST FORGAVE YOU!!
A note on the "forgive as God in Christ forgave you".....I certainly didn't deserve His forgiveness. I repeatedly turned my back on Him. I fail. Often. And yet He still forgives me. If I am to love like Christ, I too need to forgive despite the what others do, or continue to do.