“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” — Ephesians 4:15
We are encouraged and even admonished to “speak the truth in love”. This is a little verse that comes on the tail of some other things that Paul was writing in his letter to the Church at Ephesus. It is a continuation of some things that Paul is encouraging the Church to do as a result of their faith in Jesus Christ. Just prior to today’s verse we see:
Ephesians 4:1-6 ( KJV )
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
He is reminding them and us that we are all one body — the body of Christ, also known as the Church. In another one of Paul’s letters, speaking to the Galatians, he reminds them (and us) that when we are “in Christ” we are encouraged to walk in the Spirit and when we do that we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We are also admonished that If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).
Here in Ephesians 4, we are reminded that we are not only “one” body, but we are “one” Spirit as well. This is a great example of how the Holy Spirit leads us to do what is right in the eyes of God. In the Old Testament God gave the law saying: Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16). Most people understand this to mean “don’t lie about things”. Exodus 23:1-3 further explains the meaning of this commandment. Basically, God says to be honest — don’t lie. In fact, King Solomon listed lying among the six things that the Lord hates and even the seven abominations to Him (lying is mentioned twice here), take a look:
Proverbs 6:16-19 ( KJV )
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Fast forward into the age of grace. Paul introduced the concept of being saved by grace through faith when he traveled around preaching to the Gentiles. He told the Church at Ephesus that eternal life could not be earned by any works that we do (Ephesians 2:8-9), but instead it was by faith in what Jesus did on the cross at Calvary that gives us life (Ephesians 2:4-7). When this letter was written Paul was speaking of the “ages to come”. But today we are in that age … it is called the Church Age. This is the age of grace, sometimes called the dispensation of grace. We are saved by the grace of God and we are given the Holy Spirit so that we can walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4; Romans 12:1-2). Because we are “in Christ” we are able to be transformed into a new creature (1 Corinthians 5:17).
Before the cross it was all about “don’t do” or “thou shalt not”. Back then sin’s debt was paid through the Old Testament practice of offering animals for the forgiveness of sin.
After the cross it is about what we should be doing because we are “in Christ”. Sacrificing animals is no longer the way of atonement. Our good works cannot merit eternal life. Instead, as Paul mentioned early in this letter to the Ephesians “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We do good works because we are created “in Christ Jesus” to do them. So then “doing good” is a bi-product of salvation, not a way to salvation. You see when we are “in Christ” we automatically do what is pleasing to the Lord. However, even though we are “in Christ” the carnal nature still exists inside of us so the wrestling match between the flesh and the Spirit goes on. We have a whole armour of God for that, read more about that here: Weapons for the Wrestling Match.
I am not saying that the Law is not important because without it we would not even know we need a Saviour. It was the Law that taught us of our need, but once we have the faith that saves us, we are no longer under the Law (Galatians 3:24-24). Isn’t that good news? When we are “in Christ” we receive the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:12-14) which enables us to walk in the newness of life that pleases God. When we keep our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), it is impossible to do the things that the Law prohibited, because when we are walking in the Spirit we cannot walk in the flesh (Galatians 5:17). Under grace the Law is replaced by the fruit of the Spirit and things change from the negative to the positive. These Laws are written in our heart and no longer on tablets of stone, as witnessed by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:3; Hebrews 10:15-17). Take a look at some examples of the contrast between “the law” and “grace” below:
Under the Law: Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Under Grace: Worship in Spirit and in truth
Under the Law: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain
Under Grace: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Under the Law: Thou shalt not steal
Under Grace: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Under the Law: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Under Grace: Speak the truth in love
So then, how do we answer the question of “Do or don’t do?”
Do believe that Jesus gave His life on the cross to pay the sin debt that you cannot possibly pay without Him
(John 3:36; Romans 3:23; 6:23).
Do know that once you believe you have the power to walk in newness of life
(Romans 6:4; Ephesians 1:12-14 ).
Do know that this is a promise of the Father and that promise is the Spirit of truth which seals you until the day of redemption — this is the day that Jesus returns to catch up His Church
(John 14:15-19; Ephesians 1:12-14,4:30).
Do know that God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
Do know that speaking the truth in love is possible because of grace.
(Ephesians 4:31-32; Titus 3:4-8)
Don’t delay, today could be the day.
Time is running out, Jesus is coming!
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
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