The church’s ethical “body language” – Part 1

This passage describes the spiritual “body language” of the church. The Holy Spirit through Paul’s pen gets laser-specific about what things the new nature does and should not do. These are instructions for how we behave within the local church. If they are not lived out, we grieve the Holy Spirit and hinder His ability to work among us.

Be Honest (verse 25)

“Therefore” shows that Paul is continuing the logic of his previous discussion – the old nature and the new nature, what we should put off and put on. This verse describes ethical Christian speech. We are to put off falsehood and speak truth to one another.

Paul references Zechariah 8:16, which is a description of the Millennial Kingdom. The sinless remnant will obey this command so thoroughly that Zion will be called “the City of Truth” (Zech. 8:3). Paul’s use of this passage urges believers, as the current spiritual nation, to live as Kingdom people now.

Christ’s body should be known for telling the truth. We should not be described as “treacherous” (2 Timothy 3:4), truce-breakers, or people who do not keep their word. Though the world must increasingly rely on litigation to hold people to their agreements, even handshakes or signatures should be unnecessary inside the local church because we are known as people of our word.

Be Current (verse 26-27)

This verse contains two commands: “Be angry,” and “do not sin.” There are things we can and should be angry about. Jesus was angered and yet was without sin. The test is whether it also disappoints your Lord.

Christians can be angry, but we should not be known for our anger. Uncontrolled anger leads to chaos, but governed anger leads to devotion and growth in our character.

Paul quotes Psalm 4:4, where David is pouring his heart out to God because he has been wrongfully accused. He deals with his anger by devoting himself to the Lord. As the song says, “Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer.” The Christian mind is a disciplined mind. When you are trembling in anger, pray. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).

God tells us how to deal with anger efficiently. We are not to let it fester. By dealing with anger within 24 hours, we prevent its influence in our relationships. As we apply this in our life together, we will become more and more a happy family and an influence outside our walls.

Application Points

The church ought to be the most ethical family in a culture. We ought to be known for speaking truth and ought not to be known as people dominated by anger. This begins at an individual level, with each member in his and her own home.

  • In your home, are you known as someone who tells the truth? What about at work and out in the culture? If you say you will do this or won’t do that, do you keep your word?

    Here’s one specific application: If you’re a member, you have given your word to attend a majority of services at Grace, serve faithfully in one area, support the ministry with your tithe and offerings, etc. Are you keeping your word in this area? If not, do business with God; confess your sin, forsake it, and prosper in living truthfully with your Christian family.

  • Are you known as an angry person in your home? Does anger dominate you at work? Among your friends? Are you angered by things that also disappoint your Lord? Resolve to deal with your anger the way God prescribes. He’s told us how to do it and given us the grace to obey.
  • Pray for your pastors, elders, and church leaders as they seek to set an example in speaking the truth and staying current in relationships. How can you encourage one of them this week?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • John 14:6 – Truth-speaking Christians have the influence of Jesus Himself.
  • Hebrews 10:24-25 – The importance of the church meeting together.
  • 1 Timothy 3:3 – Church leaders should not be known as contentious ones who push buttons and pick fights.
  • 1 Timothy 5:19-20, Matthew 5:23-24, Matthew 18:15-21 – God’s instructions on dealing with anger and offense between Christians.
A Hymn to Encourage: “Be Strong in the Lord”

Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage;
Your mighty Defender is always the same.
Mount up with wings, as the eagle ascending;
Vict’ry is sure when you call on His name.

Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord;
And be of good courage, for He is your guide.
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord;
And rejoice, for the vict’ry is yours.

So put on the armour the Lord has provided;
And place your defense in His unfailing care.
Trust Him, for He will be with you in battle,
Lighting your path to avoid every snare.

Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage;
Your mighty commander will vanquish the foe.
Fear not the battle, for the victory is always His;
He will protect you wherever you go.