Lord God, give us new resolve and new strength from Your Word today. Amen.
Text: Ephesians 4:22-28
That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. 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.
This admonition Paul writes to believers who are sealed with the Holy Spirit (2Ti 2:19; Rev 7:3). Yet they also still have such sins. Let no ungodly person be comforted by this! For the ungodly don’t want to put off wickedness. When they rejoice in the sins of the saints, it is a devilish joy, that springs from the love of sin. But for the children of God who are troubled by the wickedness they still bear in their flesh and are afraid that they are not true Christians, it should be a comfort that Paul has to write such things to the Holy Church in Ephesus.
Let us also follow the Apostle’s admonition and put off the old man, and put on the new. No clothing is so moth-eaten and so full of worms as the old man. The unconverted are clothed in this disgusting dress because their lusts blind them. But you, dear Christian, have put it off, though you still drag it with you, and the devil wants to put it on you again. But tread it under foot with sanctified self-denial! If the paralyzed soul is healed by the gracious forgiveness of sins, then it must arise and walk in new life. If the lost son is received back into the Father’s house and is dressed in the best clothing (Luk 15:22), then he must live there and guard it, keep it clean and no longer consort with prostitutes. O how God’s reborn children should pursue holiness! And pure conduct comes from within. They have received a new mind, which, born of God, is already holy in itself, but they must continually be renewed in this. Just as in a living body there is a constant metabolic change, something old is replaced with something new, so also with living Christians. From God’s Spirit they continually receive new light and new strength, and continually the sin that still lives in them is washed away. So they continually have new desire for good. Many who once were eager have become cold, because they neglected this renewing of the mind. It gives youthful freshness to young and old, so that “they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isa 40:31).
From this “renewing of the mind” comes holiness of life. Let the devil and his people do all the lying, for love and lying cannot be yoked together. And let them have all the bitterness, for love and bitterness cannot mix. If you are tempted to anger and hold a grudge, then you grieve God’s Spirit, and soon can neither pray nor give thanks, but are paralyzed both in heart and hands. It is of utmost seriousness that the Apostle puts these two phrases together: “do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” and “do not give place to the devil.” With Cain and Saul the devil found a place through their anger, with Absalom and Ahithophel through their greed for power (2Sa 15:31), with Judas through covetousness, with you may he never find a place through anything!
Merciful and faithful God, work in us to will and to do, and sanctify us completely in spirit and soul and body. Amen.
God, by Thy Spirit us prepare,
That daily we are cleansing
Th’ abundance of our wicked care
And sinful deep transgressing,
That all may be What we should be:
Completely new creation,
Before Thy face And throne of grace
In heaven’s jubilation.
Kingo: Fra Himmelen hid til os ned L 401:5 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Mit Haab og Trøst (LHy 428) or Was mein Gott will (ELH 261); alternate hymn: Gracious Savior, gentle Shepherd ELH 367:3