Ephesians 4:17-32

Eph 4:17 (KJV)
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Vanity - Futility or worthlessness
Just because Paul is saying this does not make it any less Scripture than if Christ was making the statement. We are being told here that we are to employ the spiritual gifts that Christ gave us and our thoughts are not to be of gaining greater ground in this world but we need to be using our minds for the greater good of the Kingdom of Christ. There may have been those at Ephesus who were doing nothing but vain things which were of no spiritual value and this may have been what precipitated the letter of Ephesians and this portion about becoming Christians who are in concert with the Word of God and the body of Christ to help build it and no hinder its growth. There are Christians in every congregation who are of no value to the body of Christ. I mean, if they would move to an uninhabited Island in the South Pacific, things would go on as usual. We are being admonished that we need to get busy for the kingdom of Christ.
Too many times Christians are more skillful in the ways of the world rather then the ways of Christ. Their walk seems to reflect that they are not even Christians and the great distinction between unbelievers and Christians is that the Christian is to be sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ and the unbeliever is sold out to the things of the world. Our jobs or social position can never be used to define who we are. If we belong to Christ, then we are to identify with His kingdom, even if it brings persecution here on earth. Christians cannot have mental affinity with unbelievers because our minds have been regenerated.
Eph 4:18 (KJV)
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Understanding darkened - Darkness or gloom
Alienated - to be estranged or separated
Ignorance - Lack of Knowledge
Blindness - Callousness or lack of feeling
We are told here that the futility of the mind that we saw in verse 17 is triggered by a few things. First, their understanding has been darkened and this happens when we live in sin. Sin always darkens a persons outlook and perception, which leads to futility in making decisions or assumptions. The unbeliever walks around in a perpetual state of darkness but when the believer begins to adopt the same philosophies and thought patterns of the unbeliever, then they too will have a very skewed outlook.
We are warned that these unbelievers are alienated from the life of God. He is not just speaking of a life with God but speaking about the life that God gives to His children. These people are looking at things through a temporal set of eyes whereas the children of God look at things through eternal eyes. The great separation between God’s children and the children of darkness, besides salvation, is definitely outlook. God’s children are never separated from Him and even if they walk on some dark path, they can return unto Him but the unbeliever has no one to turn to except their own intellect and outlook on each individual situation.
The unbeliever lacks the imputed knowledge that God gives His children. We grow having the knowledge of God but the unbeliever lacks this eternal knowledge which results in a daily hardening. Over time they become callous toward the things of God.
Then eventually a hostility to the things of Christ grows in them and they want nothing to do with the ways of Christ which results in what happens to them in the next verse.
Eph 4:19 (KJV)
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Lasciviousness - Excess, immoderation, licentiousness
Uncleanness - Impurity or immorality
Since these people are past any feeling because they are now so hardened, they sink into a life of licentiousness which is a wreck less or wasteful life. They have absolutely no care for the things of God and as a result their life is lived in immorality or impurity. We can see these kind of people today who will kill someone and they are so hardened that they have absolutely no remorse for what they did. Their lives are lived in greed or covetousness because their goal is to live for themselves alone. We might think of the gangsters in the old days who lived in the lap of luxury in big homes and the way they got there, was to kill and steal someone else’s territory. All one needs to do is to read the story of Al Capone and his war with the North Side Gang. You will then get a good historical view of this verse.
Eph 4:20 (KJV)
But ye have not so learned Christ;
Paul then contrasts the evil hardness of the unbeliever with the believer. He says that we did not learn Christ by the ways of the world. We learned of Him through divine illumination of the Word and the indwelling Holy Spirit who not only gives us the gifts but the fruits of the Spirit which are antonymic to the fruits of the flesh. When a person becomes saved out of the world, one thing that happens is He can take the hardest heart and make it soft. A true believer will not continue in such a harsh manner. A softening, in concert with spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit, is an outward sign that true salvation has taken place in a hardened individual.
Eph 4:21 (KJV)
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Paul continues his thoughts from the previous verse. He states to the Christians that they did not learn about the Lord Jesus Christ and his ways through worldly measures. He now states that if they have heard Him and the word “hear” carries with it the meaning of not only physically hearing but also understanding what is heard. The only ones who can understand the deeper things of Christ are the believers. The unbelievers may hear the teachings of Jesus and just obey them on the scale of moral teachings. A moral lifestyle like an amoral lifestyle can never yield salvation.
He then goes on to say that if you heard the Lord Jesus and have understood Him, then you have been taught by him. Teaching does not take place when the teacher disseminates information, but it takes place only when the student understands what is being taught. He goes on to say that the truth is in Christ. As a matter of fact, Christ is truth personified. Pilate could not see that when Jesus stood before him and Pilate asked him, “What is Truth?” We know that Christ is truth and He is teaching His children through the Word today. (John 17:17 KJV) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Eph 4:22 (KJV)
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Conversation - Conduct or behavior
Corrupt - Destroy, defile, or ruin
Now the Christian is being admonished that we are put off the old life. Sine we have seen such a vast difference between the ways of the world and the ways of Christ, the believer must now strive each day to put off the old ways of doing things. Those old ways are not representing the inner transformation that took place upon salvation. Our former conduct in the world were the ways that were corrupt with sin and sinful values, along with all of the lustful behavior. Unsaved people lust after the things of the world believing that it will bring them security. Our security and our focus must be redirected upon the Lord Jesus Christ. While we are still living in this world, we are susceptible to the same lusts the unsaved folks are, except we have one big difference. We do not have to succumb to temptation because the Holy Spirit indwells us giving us the power to be able to refuse the temptation and walk away.
Eph 4:23 (KJV)
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Renewed - To make new, to be young again
When a person is transformed in salvation, not only is their sins removed but God now places in us the renewed mind. This is not speaking of the physical aspect of it or is it speaking of the mind in terms of worldly living. Instead, we are speaking of the regenerating of our mind through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. A mind that was blackened by sin is one that is now made light with truth of the Gospel. (1 Cor 2:16 KJV) For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. Our mind is now new in the Lord.
Eph 4:24 (KJV)
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
This verse, along with verse 22, gives us an exchange principle that we are to live by. Not only are we to put off the old man, but we are to exchange the ways of evil with the new ways of Christ. As we see in this verse that the new man is made according to righteousness and true holiness. The old man was able to feign holiness by reason of physical gesture. (Mat 6:16 KJV) Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Have you ever seen a false preacher trying to act and look holy by means of wearing religious garb? (Luke 20:46 KJV) Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
The true holiness is not one that is outward but one that is inward by means of salvation. (Eph 1:4 KJV) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: It is also interesting to note that just as we were physically created the first time, each Christian is spiritually created the second time. This is experiencing two creations, hence, our second or new birth. It is this second birth that carries us into eternity and according to the Scripture above, it was made according to God, which means we can never die because God is eternal, and so are we. Just a reminder, always notice the small phrases like “after God” because they contain so much material and will probably keep you from misinterpreting a verse.
Eph 4:25 (KJV)
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Lying - Falsehood
Neighbour - Fellow man or one who lives by
Members - Part or Limb
It is interesting that Paul is admonishing the Christians to stop their lying. He probably knew, like James, that the easiest thing to do is to lie and that the tongue is the hardest to control. The Bible is admonishing the Christian that we are not to lie in any situation. We see that in two areas:
1) The Neighbor - This does not necessarily mean a believer but it can. It certainly includes those who we are in contact with each day of our life. Those on the job or those in social situations. One of the hardest things for preachers to do is to stop their lying. There is much lying going on in pulpits every week and the same mouth that condemns lying from the pulpit, is the most guiltiest. Whenever a false doctrine is taught from the pulpit, it is nothing more than lying and no preacher can excuse or justify themselves in this. What are some of the lies taught from the pulpit?
A) The mythical chosen people called Jews - 1 Peter 2:9-10 says that Christians are the ONLY chosen people of God, from the foundation of the world.
B) You can lose your salvation - Ephesians 4:30 says were are sealed unto the day of redemption. It is a divine seal which cannot be broken.
C) A secret rapture - Christians will be secretly raptured before the 7 year tribulation period. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the Archangel, along with the shout of God. Doesn’t sound like God is going to do it in secret.
D) You can accept the Lord - We saw in Ephesians 2:1-5 that man is spiritually dead and cannot raise himself to salvation. It must be done from an outside source. (John 6:44 KJV) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
As you can see there is a massive amount of lying that goes on in the pulpits each week. These are just 4 points of false doctrine which is taught with neglected or avoided truth. Preachers better stop their lying before they start telling the people to stop lying. The worst part of the preachers’ lie is that they claim God is teaching what they are saying. (Prov 12:22 KJV) Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
2) Members - We also must stop any lying to Christians that we are doing. As I stated above, many preachers are teaching falsehoods which is lying. We are the members of Christ’s body and we need to work in concert and in truth. Lying in the body of Christ is like cancer invading the body human. Christians who do not have pulpit ministries do the same lying that the preachers do. Instead of checking things out in Scripture, they blindly accept what they are told. Christians will read books bought in Christian Bookstores and then read them and if they like what they read, then they will adopt that as truth. Believers must put off the old man in every situation and be truthful, even if it costs us.
Eph 4:26 (KJV)
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Christians may be angry and not sin. Their anger must burn against the sinful ways they once basked in and if they sin, then they should be angry with themselves so they will not sin again in the same way. God is not telling a Christian to avoid anger, He is basically telling them to control their anger and place a limit on it. Remember, “anger” is only one letter away from “Danger.” The word “wrath” in this verse carries a meaning of provocation. If you were provoked by someone which caused you to be angry, God is saying don’t stew in that anger, because it will do more damage to you, then it will to the other person. Forgiveness cancels out anger! I am not saying that it is easy and if someone does something to you which causes a large problem in your life, it will be difficult not to remain angry, especially at that person. God is emphasizing control because you may go out of control and do something worse than that other person did to you. All provocation to get you to become angry, no matter what it is, is a testing program in your life. Once the problem has already occurred in your life, getting and remaining angry will not add to the solution, it will only exacerbate the situation.
Eph 4:27 (KJV)
Neither give place to the devil.
Place - Opportunity or a possibility
This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible but packed with much truth. God is warning us here that if we give place or an opportunity to the devil, in our anger, or our sinful reactive anger, then Satan will take those evil actions and cause them to mushroom. The situation will blow out of proportion and will be detrimental to all parties involved. This is why God wants His children to control their anger and their reactions to situations. Once we respond in a satanic fashion, then we are no longer able to show the world the difference between a Christian and an unbeliever. Never play with the devil’s rules, make him play on your terms. Remember he is not an invited guest at the home of any believer, he is an unwanted intruder. Giving place to the devil can happen with any sinful situation, not only anger.


Eph 4:28 (KJV)
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.
Paul now gets into the practical aspect of not giving an opportunity to the devil. In this verse, he is advocating that if a Christian was a thief under the old man, he is now to become a person of legitimate income. The person is no longer to steal but is now to act as a Christian by working to gain things and not stealing. Stealing like lying is an easy practice. If a person becomes saved later on in life but was a thief or a liar, it would be hard to control those sins. By going to work, a person can evade the pitfalls of having too much free time to plan and execute a robbery. This is one of the keys of occupying the time properly. Occupying our time is not only to do spiritual things but also to labor with our hands. That labor will not only support our families, but will be able to help those that are in need, whether it is physical goods or spiritual goods. By helping those in need, you might be able to ward off a future robbery by someone in desperate need. (Prov 19:17 KJV) He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
There is also a spiritual principle in this verse. It applies to the preaching of the true gospel. (John 10:12-13 KJV) But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. {13} The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. If a preacher becomes saved and was preaching a false gospel, it is now his responsible to begin to preach the truth. He must labor vigorously in the Scriptures to find out the true teachings of God. There are many unbelievers who go into the ministry just to avoid having to go out and work for a living. In the event that one of these unbelievers become saved, they must not steal any more but now they are to labor in the true Gospel. A church paying an unbeliever to be their minister, is really being robbed since they are getting nothing in return on their investment. They will still remain as unsaved when they leave as they are when they walk in. The ultimate spiritual theft is when an unbeliever tries to preach the Gospel of salvation, when he himself is under the wrath of God.
Eph 4:29 (KJV)
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.
Corrupt - Worthless or unsound
Edifying - Building up
The fourth major issue that Paul has in this section on practical Christianity is the putting forth of corrupt communication. We see that this means worthless or unsound words. Now, this does not necessarily only mean the type of words which are found on the street but it can also mean words which are used to lead astray those in the faith. (1 Tim 6:3-5 KJV) If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; {4} He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, {5} Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. False teachings are made up of unsound words and as we see in this verse that corrupt or worthless words do not build people up in the faith. The communication that we Christians must have is that which ministers the grace of God. Paul is teaching his hearers that our speech must be different than that of the world. How does one edify the body of Christ if the majority of their speech consists of jokes and worldly speech? Impure speech leaves indelible prints on the mind and will cause unsuspecting Christians to have a divided mind. That is why in 1 Tim. 6:3, the Bible tells us that we are to put on the words of Christ. Remember the exchange principle we saw in Eph 4:22 & 24, put off and then put on? Well this admonition is informing us to do just that.
Eph 4:30 (KJV)
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Grieve - Cause distress or sorrow
Sealed - Seal up or set a seal upon
This verse is a great apologetic against those cults who teach the Holy Spirit is only a force. How can you grieve a non-living force? You can only grieve a living thing. In this case, if we live our life in the flesh and go from sin to sin, instead of living faith to faith, we will bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit who is eternal God Himself. Sin both grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit. (1 Th 5:19 KJV) Quench not the Spirit. The next part of that verse teaches us that we are sealed unto the day of redemption, which is the culmination of our life on this present earth. This means either our home going through physical death or the return of the Lord on the last day. It is a shame that so many believe they can lose their salvation, when this little verse brings in such a timeless truth that the believers are sealed. When we see a letter or a package that has been sealed, it remains that way until it is opened. It is the same way with the believer as we read in the following verse. (1 Pet 1:5 KJV) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. The true state of the believer will be revealed when the seal is broken and the world will then see what the true believers will look like. Those who have persecuted the believers throughout time, will then see the glorified Saints. Right now we are frail with many imperfections, but once God opens the seal and reveals the true nature of His Saints, then there will be fear by those who persecuted the church of God. (2 Th 1:7-10 KJV) And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, {8} In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: {9} Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; {10} When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Eph 4:31 (KJV)
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
To prevent the Christian from grieving the Holy Spirit, the Bible gives us examples of what type of behavioral patterns we must reject.
Bitterness - This worldly characteristic is one which exudes extreme animosity, resentment, or harshness.
Wrath - The word in Scripture often points to the judgment of God, in the terms of the wrath of God. (Eph 2:3 KJV) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. This word connotes a judgmental anger the person may have toward someone or something. It also means an anger with a propensity toward revenge. (Rom 12:19 KJV) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Anger - This anger is the anger which carries with it great rage. This anger is in contrast to the controlled anger the believer has for sinful things.
Clamour - It actually means “shouting.” We must live a quiet life with a quiet personality. (1 Pet 3:4 KJV) But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. If we possess a disruptive and loud personality, we will acting as those “big mouths” in the world who think they know it all and want everybody else to know it too. If we have this type of mentality, we will be very disruptive in Bible studies, Sunday School, or anywhere the Bible is taught. The desire to be heard stems from a Christian not knowing who they are in Christ and are still trying to be someone important in the body of Christ by way of worldly methods. (Prov 17:28 KJV) Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. We need to heed the advice of this Scripture verse.
Evil speaking - We get the word “blasphemy” from the Greek word behind this word. It basically carries with it the idea of slander. Slander runs high in the Christian community. Of course, if a true Christian exposes a false teaching, then they will be accused of slander. The basic meaning of slander is the utterance of false charges. If a person rightly exposes a false teacher or teaching, that is not slander. Let us say your pastor says something from the pulpit you did not fully understand and instead of going to him and asking what he said or meant, you begin to start telling false stories about him to others that he believes a certain way, which he does not. That is slander and we must be very careful about not slandering another brother or sister.
Malice - Malice means to have a badness or an ill will toward someone. Sometimes a person may desire that another person get injured or even die. Have you ever heard anyone in your life, in anger, wish someone else would drop dead? That is the essence of malice.
These are just some of the attitudes which are highly visible in the world. The Bible is giving us these examples so we may be able to identify any of these characteristics in our life. If we do have them, then we are to expunge them as fast as we can. Not only for our testimony sake, but for our physical health as well.
Eph 4:32 (KJV)
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Now as Paul listed the negative characteristics which can be visible among the Christians, he now goes on to list the contrasting characteristics which should be enveloping the Christian. Keep in mind, that we are not to accept unchristian behavior in any Christian under the guise of being kind or gentle. Some Christians will want to live their own way and when you reject their lifestyle, they will then accuse you of hating them and not being gentle and kind.
Kind - A goodness or a pleasantness that the believer exudes. In contrast to the loud mouth of the unbeliever, the kindness is an accepting kindness of the other believer. Keep in mind, that you had no choice in who your parents or brothers and sisters are, and you have no choice as to who you spiritual brothers and sisters are. This means that we come from all walks of life and sometimes an extra dose of kindness is needed for some.
Tenderhearted - It carries with it the meaning of compassionate. It is when a person has a sympathetic understanding of another’s situation. Sometimes a person may be going through some rough times and we don’t know it and we may see an action of theirs which seems unbiblical and instead of inquiring, right away we may make a judgment. What we need to do is to find out what is going on in their life to gain an understanding.
Forgiving - This word carries with it the idea of generosity. Forgiveness is a great act of generosity and is one that the Christian is expected to engage in on a steady basis. God forgave us in Christ the millions of sins which we committed. God is expecting us to forgive the brethren for the petty acts they have committed against us. That forgiveness must never carry any “demanded works.” It must be an unconditional forgiveness. Now if the offending brother or sister wants to do something to help you regain your loss, they must be told that their forgiveness is not based on what they do. They are already forgiven and what they would like to do is based on the acceptance of that forgiveness and not working for that forgiveness. It is like the Christian life, we do works because we are forgiven and not for forgiveness.