PENTECOST 10 PROPER 14
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 – Year B
“Living as God intended”
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 (NIV)
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”a: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
5 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Let’s start with the first sentence of the reading from Ephesians for today.
So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbours the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
I have an admission to make. I just hate being lied to. In fact I feel that lying to another person is one of the worst things that you can do to another human being. To me lying is tantamount to theft. When a person lies to me – they in effect steal from me.
I am sure that you wish to make your way through life in such a way that you carefully avoid situations of danger or peril. You wish to ensure that you do not deliberately step into situations that are going to cause you pain and suffering of any type. In fact you will go so far as to actively avoid any situations that you perceive place you in any sort of danger – morally, financially, ethically or spiritually. When a person lies to me they are in effect deliberately making it more difficult for me to navigate my way through life and are therefore placing me in danger because their lies may cause me to alter my path because of what they have told me.
We are innately trusting sort of people. We tend to believe the last thing that has been told to us – especially if it has something to do with another person. For example, if we are told by person ‘A’ that person ‘B’ said or did an unkind thing to them, we will likely believe it, even if we are not entirely sure that the matter being disclosed fits in with our view of how we perceive person ‘B’. We would likely believe what we are being told as we would have no reason to believe that person ‘A’ was lying to us (unless we had previously caught them in a lie).
Now, having believed what we have been told, we have an altered view of person ‘B’ simply because of what person ‘A’ has disclosed. We in all likeliness will never confront person ‘B’ to get their ‘side of the story’, rather we could wind up going through our whole life with an incorrect and patiently false view of person ‘B’ and we could treat them in accordance with the lie we have been told, never hearing the truth.
When a person lies to us they in effect steal from us. Person ‘A’ has stolen from person ‘B’. They have stolen their good name but they have also stolen from us – the person that they have told about person ‘B’. We have been stolen from because the lie we have been told may have caused us to react in a different manner with person ‘B’.
Lying creates inequality. No person I have known wants to be lied to. You do not like being lied to, to being deceived. A person who lies acts as if there are two classes of humans: themselves, with the right to lie, and everyone else, who must be truthful so that they will not lose their way.
God intends for us to live life at peace with one another. That means you let your “‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’”. For Scripture goes on to say that anything more than that comes from the evil one.
Living as God intended means we take seriously the words of the Eighth Commandment which is directly relevant to this verse from Ephesians.
This Commandment says, “You shall not bear a false witness against your neighbour”. On the surface of it one may think that this is an admonition to tell the truth should we be subpoenaed to give evidence. But listen carefully to the explanation of that commandment. “We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbours, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.”
Brothers and sisters. We who are the body of Christ are the ones who will be living this in our lives and demonstrating it by our actions to one another and to the wider community. For what does it say about us and the state of our faith if slanderous words are coming off our tongue about others? We may delude ourselves when we speak words about others that are not uplifting and may ruin their reputation, but surely the person we are speaking to must be wondering if once their back is turned, will they be the target of that poisonous tongue? Then of course what does it say about one’s faith if those outside the family of faith hear denigrating words about others coming from our lips? Are they going to be in any hurry to be part of a family of faith that treats one another in a demeaning manner?
If our own family members hear us speaking ill of those in the Church, will they be in any rush to worship here?
God intends us to live in the light. He intends us to live a life of love with one another. God intends us to speak well of one another and to put right any wrongs that may have been committed.
‘Telling lies’, being a false witness is sin and this is what our verse says about that:
“ … don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil”
When we deliberately sin we wind up in effect giving the evil one permission in that area of our life. If we deliberately sin by not speaking a good word about other people, then we are in effect giving satan permission in that area of our life. God however, intends us to live in the light – not in the darkness.
To really live as God intended we simply follow the final part of this Ephesian reading.
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.
The life we are called to live is not something that we have to ‘make up’ as we go along. The life we live is one of imitation. We simply model our life off the one who lived and showed us how to live. Jesus not only showed us how to live life, He showed us how to really live life and how to enjoy it. He showed us how to have great passion and fulfilment in this life that we are living.
We imitate God in Christ Jesus. We are called to do this because Jesus has provided the best example of how life should be lived for us all.
It’s a little like parenting children, or being parented yourself. Your parents set you an example to follow. Parents, who are called to love their children, seek to ensure that they lead their child in places of safety. Parents never deliberately endanger their child for they know that they are a gift from God. So too we know that if we imitate Christ’ example, then our life will be God pleasing, free from the dangers that come with deliberate sin and full of joy.
Certainly, in living a life like this we are going to be faced with temptations. Scripture puts it like this:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
This is the reality of life. We live in a world that is not the perfect world that God created it to be and we are in danger of the snares that the evil one would place before us. However, Scripture tells us that we are to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. As long as we continue to do this we are kept safe by Him.
We were created for a reason. That reason was made clear in Genesis 1:26. We were created for a relationship with God. That means that you are created for a relationship with God and you miss out on so much of life’s potential, you miss out on God’s potential, you miss out on life if you ignore this admonition of God.
No matter what your life’s situation is? No matter where you have been or what sins you have committed, God is waiting to restore that fullness of life to you if you will let Him. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God but that is no reason to remain in that situation. Christ came for each of us – because you are that important to God.
Living as God intended is a life lived in accord with the example of Jesus, as Scripture attests. With Jesus in your life your family, your friends, the entire world takes on a new perspective and so does life.
I promise you this: There is no downside in living a Christ led life.
X The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. X
Information, illustrations, literature and themes, for this sermon are gleaned from a variety of sources. If I have violated copyright held by an individual, then please contact the writer of the sermon and your source will be acknowledged, or removed at your request.
a Psalm 4:4
 Ephesians 4:25 (NLT).
 1 Timothy 2:2 (NIV).
 Matthew 5:37 (NIV).
 Exodus 20:16.
 Luther’s Small Catechism.
 Ephesians 4:26, 27 (NLT).
 Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 2:10 (NIV).
 Ephesians 5:1,2 (NLT).
 Luke 11:11-13 (NIV).
 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV).
 Hebrews 12:2 (NIV).
 John 17:12 (NIV).
 Romans 3:23 (NIV).