And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey Him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!Ephesians 4:30-5:8
In typical Pauline fashion these thoughts are still linked to what Paul has said before.
- Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Verse 17
- That isn’t what you learned about Christ. Verse 20
- Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, Verse 22
- Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Verse 23
- Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Verse 24
And now Paul says “Don’t bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit ! by the way you live. Remember the fact that you have been chosen by Him. You are blood bought, redeemed by His blood and adopted into His family. You are a child of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit, complete with an inheritance in Him. There is a God Guarantee stamped on you. You are redeemable only in Him. So because of that, remembering Whose you are, get rid of rage, anger, harsh words, slander and anything else that you can think of that relates to evil behaviour. Remember you are in the process of being saved. You are being set aside to the day of redemption – when Christ comes back to claim His own. So live like it. Here Paul has gone back to his earlier statements from the long sentence at the very beginning of the book to spell out who we are in Christ. When our position in Christ is clear to us it makes a world of difference as to how we live. Put off . . . and put on.
Notice how this thought package crosses the chapter boundary between Chapter 4 and Chapter 5. Paul is continuing the thought of taking off clothes and putting on clothes. Get rid of this and put on that. When you have the perspective of God in mind and you are concerned about His feelings in the mix then you will follow the example of Christ. You will want to please Him. But if that is not uppermost in your mind then remember the fact that no one who practices these sins, or who excuses them will inherit the Kingdom of God. Keep your birth right in mind too. This takes us back to Romans doesn’t it. Paul always takes time in his letters to spell out the practical nature of life in Christ and the principles of Christian living. One could be excused for thinking his letters are very repetitive. That is because they are, in the sense that he is emphasising the things that are important and we need to remember. Of course there are links to others of his letters too because this practical stuff is important not only for the Ephesians to know how to work out in a corrupt and dirty world, but also the Philippians, the Corinthians, the Colossians – in short all God’s people. Matamatarians, Aucklanders, Melbournians, Jakartans, Makassarites, Sāo Pauloites and __________ (you put your city in here) all need to work out how to live the practicalities of their faith.
Knowing whose you are, what family you belong to, automatically sets around you the restraints to your behaviour. Knowing your position in Christ sets the boundaries. On the basis of that, it is unthinkable that you would compromise that. (Going back to our discussions on once saved always saved and realising there is a degree to which we are still in the process of being saved, so guard yourself lest having preaching to others you yourself don’t lose your assurance of salvation. But over and above all that, don’t bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit. Irrespective of what we may think, do it for Him. Do it for Him in return for all He has done for you if you can’t do it for yourself. These aspects of practical Christian living are important for us to hang on to you.
I think you will agree, this passage is very clear. You don’t need me to spell out for you what it means. You know what it means. Your difficulty comes with working it out. I can’t help you will that, only God can. Ask Him for help, He is waiting for you to confess your need to Him. So now the ball is in your court.
It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.Mark Twain
In fact, truth w/o relationship is condemnation. And relationship w/o truth is license. We need both!John Townsend
Your behaviour is what you believe; all the rest is just talk.Ian Vail