We know the why and the how of walking like a brother, now we’re going to learn the what, when and where. Let’s pick up where we left off with the Apostle Paul last week.
“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you 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. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:25-32
This is not Paul’s only list of what it means to walk like a brother, but it’s an excellent place to begin. Look at the first word – “Therefore.” What’s the “therefore” there for? Based on what he wrote in the verses just before these – we should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind. God wants us to put off, concerning our former conduct, the old man, be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. “Therefore,” because of those facts, Paul writes, we should put away lying. “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
Why do you think Paul started with putting away lying and speaking truth with our neighbor? Think about your relationship with God. What is the foundation of that relationship? How did it begin? We know that God loves us, chooses us and blesses us (Ephesians 1:3-6), so what do we do? We believe God. We have faith in Christ. Faith is the foundation of our relationship – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)
What is the foundation of faith? How can we know that believing on the Lord Jesus Christ will save us? Because God always tells the truth! Truth telling is the foundation of our faith. It’s the heart of trust. We must be able to believe God and each other. We first believe God – we believe everything He says. That leads to a trust that builds confidence and power in our life. As Paul wrote the Roman Christians, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4) God is Truth. In a crazy world filled with lies coming at us from every direction continually, there is always one place we can go to get the Truth – God’s Word. We know when we pick up the Bible and read it, we are reading “the Truth.” What God wants us to do with each other is “put away lying” and speak truth with our neighbor.
Why? Because we are members of one another. Remember that the Christian family is not of human design. It’s not the way we do things – it’s how God does things. God called out a people for His Name thousands of years ago and gave them the name “Israel.” They became His people – His wife – His nation. Jesus came to Israel in the likeness of human beings and offered Himself to them as their Messiah King. He died for them, but Israel refused His offer, so Jesus chose Paul (Saul) to take a new offer to the Gentile nations, because He also died for them. The new offer was to build something new, something that no one knew about – Jesus called out Gentiles and Jews to become part of His Body.
This was not new information to the Ephesians. Paul had taught them about being part of the Body of Christ before. In fact, he had just reminded them earlier in this same letter.
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:1-7
Gentiles are fellow heirs with Jews – of the same Body – partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel. This is what Jesus has made us – we are His Body and therefore members of one another.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
Every Christian is part of this amazing Body of Christ. We are members of one another. What one member of the body does affects every other member of the same Body. Have you ever stubbed your toe? Just your toe – no other part of your body is injured – but how does your entire body respond to the injury to your toe? You’re hopping around, looking for a place to sit, holding your foot, yelling in pain. Why is it that every part of your body reacts to your toe being hurt? Because your entire body is connected, feels the pain and responds. That’s the way it is in the spiritual Body of Christ. We are all members of one another. When you hurt, I hurt. When I hurt, you hurt. When we hurt, we all hurt.
What is the deepest hurt any of us can experience? Having someone close to us – someone we trust deeply – lying to us. What was the first lie? Think about it – what was the first lie and how did it affect us? “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:4) Why was that a lie? Because God had told Adam the truth – “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) Satan told Eve a lie and she believed him instead of God. She took Satan at his word instead of taking God at His Word. That first lie led to terrible things that affected the human race for thousands of years.
The word “lying” is pseudos and speaks of anything that is false, not true. What is the root of lying? Deceit. “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:14) Satan wanted to deceive Eve, so he lied to her by telling her that God was a liar. Eve was deceived and fell into transgression (sin). Deceit is wicked and destructive. It’s interesting that in the Greek Paul told the Ephesians to put away “the lie” (to pseudos). How many lies are there? Just one – the lie. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44) Satan is a liar and the father of it. His lie led to murder and death – he was a murderer from the beginning. Lying is an ugly part of our former way of living – the old man. Telling the truth is part of our new way of living – the new man.
Lying has hurt the Body of Christ deeply through the centuries. Have you ever seen what lying does in a Christian marriage? Between parents and children? In a group of believers? In a church? A denomination? I have and it is devastating. Lying destroys the very fabric of trust between Christians. How can we serve God together if we can’t trust each other? How can we serve the needs of God’s people if we don’t trust each other? How can we take the Gospel of Christ to the world if we don’t trust each other? We can’t do it effectively. How many pastors, missionaries, youth leaders, Bible teachers, music leaders, and children’s workers have left their ministries because of the lies of other Christians? Would you believe it’s in the millions since the Church began? How many lives have not been touched for Christ because of the lies of Christians? Billions. We must be able to believe each other. We must “put away lying” for we are members of one another.
Notice that Paul didn’t just say “put away lying.” He also said, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.” Remember that Paul told them to “put off” and “put on.” It is not enough just to stop lying. We also need to tell each other the truth. That may be the harder part. To stop lying can be as simple as just not opening our mouths, but that’s not what God has for us. Faith in Christ is about telling each other the truth. Do you remember what God says about our heart? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Satan planted a seed of deceit that became part of every human heart. We overcome that deceit through the process of putting away lying and telling truth to our neighbor. It is not enough for us to just close our mouth and not lie. We must also open our mouth and tell the truth. It is through that process of putting away lying (put off) and speaking truth (put on) that we become mature and able to serve others.
How do we speak truth with our neighbor? Paul just told them a few verses earlier: “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). That’s the key to speaking truth to our neighbor – it must be done in love. And what happens when Christians speak the truth in love to one another?
“… but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16
What an ideal world – where Christians love each other, trust each other, and tell each other the truth. Sounds like Heaven!
Paul gave the Ephesians seven steps in walking like a brother. Putting away lying and speaking truth to our neighbor is the first step. Think about that this week. Ask God to help you put away lying and speak truth in every situation – especially those with other believers – remembering that we are members of one another.
Next week – step two.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”