Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
(Ephesians 4:25 ESV)
The second half (chapters 4-6) of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is practical application of the spiritual truth presented in the first three chapters. Having just given the Ephesians a general overview of how their conduct should be different from the non-believing world around them, Paul now launches into five specific ways in which their behavior – and ours – should make us stand out.
The word therefore indicates that what was previously written is the justification for what Paul is about to write. Since those of us who are God’s children – born-again believers [John 1:12] – are called upon to not live like we once did we should not do the things we used to do. There are certain behaviors that are unacceptable.
There are reasons for each of these, as Paul will explain. But the overall reason we should live differently is to call attention to God. When God called Israel out of Egypt into their own land He gave them a whole bunch of rules to follow that were meant to intentionally differentiate them from the world around them. God wanted His people to be different in order to use that uniqueness to show Himself to the pagan cultures surrounding Israel. Christians today need to stand out in our culture for the same reason.
Just like ancient Israel, we will be mocked. I can’t tell you how much negative feedback I get in response to this blog or to my tweets. Sometimes this even includes death threats. But as a child of God I am salt and light to a world that desperately needs to know Jesus and is growing more desperate every day.
I certainly don’t get everything right. God doesn’t expect me to. But He does expect me to want to get things right and to rely on His strength to do the best I can. Even when I fall short, which I frequently do, God in His wisdom and power can still use my efforts to bring about good [Romans 8:28]. I do not have to worry about whether I am doing a good job or not. I only have to follow His leading to the best of my ability.
It isn’t easy to live differently than the world around us. There are many temptations to resist and much ridicule to ignore. It has taken me many years to get to the point where I can resist these pressures. But God has saved me from the penalty of my sin – separation from Him for all eternity. The least I can do is live in a way that (hopefully) makes other people want to join His family too.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.