January 29, 2018
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
We have been looking at Little Acceptable Sins from Ephesians 4:22 through 24 – ‘Little’ Sins being those that the old man (the sinful nature) produces. And they are ‘Acceptable’ in that too many Christians don’t consider them serious! But Paul does! And so does God! Here, once again, is our featured Scripture:
…put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
righteousness and true holiness.
We have considered the verses following our featured Scripture, verses 25 through 30 so far, where the apostle gets specific about how those Little Acceptable Sins are manifested in a Christian’s life. We’ll continue with verse 31:
• Ephesians 4:31 – “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Paul mentions five manifestations of Sins we must be careful to avoid:
✞ “Let all bitterness…be put away from you….” Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines bitterness as, “…acridity (especially poison), literally or figuratively….” Webster’s New World Dictionary tells us acrid is “…sharp, bitter, or irritating… speech.” Bitterness poisons wherever it is spread!
▸ It poisons our own lives!
➨ According to Mathew 12:34 and 35, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” So if bitter words are coming out of our mouths, bitterness has already poisoned our hearts (our lives)!
➨ Bitterness replaces what God wants within – and so to be manifested without: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22 and 23 – English Standard Version).
But too often we tend to say about the Christian who spews bitterness, “Oh, that’s just her! ” or “That’s just him! ” This is unAcceptable!
▸ Bitterness poisons the lives of those around the bitter person! I Corinthians 15:33 (Easy-to-Read Version) says, “Don’t be fooled: ‘Bad friends will ruin good habits.’ ” Don’t let a bitter person ruin your Christian walk!
✞ “Let all…wrath [and] anger…be put away from you….”
▸ Wrath is defined by Strong as, “…passion (as if breathing hard)….” It is anger out of control! Webster says it is “…intense anger; rage; fury…[or] any action carried out in great anger, especially for punishment or vengeance.”
▸ Anger, closely associated with wrath, is bad enough! Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 7:9 warns us, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” Remember, it was anger that turned Cain against his brother Abel when he “…rose up against his brother and killed him.” (Genesis 4:8 – see also I John 3;11-15). And Jesus warns us in Matthew 5:22, “…whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”
Do not let anger and wrath dominate your life, or the lives of other Christians around you!
But also carefully remember, as stated in Little Acceptable Sins – I (January 19th blog): Certain occasions for righteous anger are ok! (See Psalm 7:11; 139:19, 21, 22).
✞ “Let all…evil speaking…be put away from you….” Strong says evil speaking is “…vilification (especially against God)….” The Greek word βλασφημία (pronounced blas-phe-mi-a) is obviously from where we get our words blaspheme and blasphemy. It is speaking against the name, and so the person, of another – whether of God or fellow human being! It is attacking the integrity of another! This means it is much the same as gossip! (See the discussion of gossip in Little Acceptable Sins – III, the January 24th blog). Evil speaking must not be tolerated or encouraged as an Acceptable Sin among believers!
✞ “Let all…malice…be put away from you….” Malice, according to Strong, is “…badness, that is, (subjectively) depravity, or (actively) malignity, or (passively) trouble….” This refers more to the inward brew out of which flows the four previous actions the apostle names – more so than the outward actions. Because it is bubbling within, out of sight – unless manifested by bitterness, wrath, anger, or evil speaking – it is perhaps the most dangerous of the five Little Acceptable Sins Paul names in Ephesians 4:31!
Verse 31 highlights the negatives! The next verse the positives!
• Ephesians 4:32 – “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.” Three good things are named here that are to be manifested in the believer’s life! And these three will totally negate the five evil things highlighted in verse 31!
But we will have to wait until Wednesday to carefully examine these three.