I have found this New Clothes series to be both practical and challenging. This week, we come to our fifth sermon in this series. It is perhaps the most challenging of all. While Paul has encouraged us to work with our hands and watch our mouths in the last few texts, he summons our hearts in this week’s text.
In Ephesians 4:31, he admonishes us to rid ourselves of
(Ephesians 4:31 NIV) all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
While the earlier counsel had to do with action (working with our hands, controlling our words), Paul bids a deeper examination. Things like bitterness and anger have to do with the heart. In fact, we see the word bitterness throughout Scripture as describing those who have rejected God. In Acts 8, Peter rebukes Simon because he wants to purchase the power of God. He tells him,
(Acts 8:21 NIV) because your heart is not right before God . . . For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.
At the same time, Paul (in this week’s text) advises us to,
(Ephesians 4:32 NIV) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
and also to,
(Ephesians 5:1 NIV) Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.
The main verb (to be) describes something deeper. Paul not only wants us to do, but he also wants us to be. Our new clothes in Christ make their way into our inner being. On Sunday, we are going to unpack this. We’re going to talk about a heart change that needs to happen as a part of our new clothes.
Is sometimes easier to take action than to consider our heart condition. But in the end, any action that does not address heart change is temporary. So Paul extends his admonition. He calls us, not only to action, but to transformation. Join us on Sunday as we talk about the necessity of heart change as a part of our new wardrobe in Christ.