In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he outlines some important truths the church needs to abide by. He talks about how the church is one made up of only Jews and Gentiles. He talks about how each individual within the church should pray for might in the inner man. He talks about the gifted offices of the church which are designed to build up the church both numerically and spiritual.
But in the middle of Ephesians chapter 4, Paul reveals a divine truth that has been lost within today’s church. Paul begins in verse 17 by saying to the Gentile believers at Ephesus, that now and since you are saved do not behave like other Gentiles who are not saved. He says that in order to do so you must put off the old man that is corrupt according to deceitful lust, and put on the new man that is created in righteousness and true holiness. Taking off the old man and putting on the new man requires a believer to be renewed in the spirit of their minds. Paul then goes on to say in order to begin the process there are five sins we must put away first.
Here is where the Church has failed miserably. When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their own personal savior, as a result of confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that God has raised Him from the dead, that person is saved and his name is written forever in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The church has failed to teach that the only thing that has changed is your status or position. You are still the same person but you are now a child of God, on your way to heaven, being sealed by the Holy Spirit. But it is up to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to change and become the new man God has ordained for you to be. In other words, after salvation, it is up to you to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling because of what it cost God for you to have the free gift of eternal life.
Through the divine revelation of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul is telling the church that once a person gets saved, his first step in the “sanctification process” is to eliminate certain sins that are common to all human beings. The church has failed to teach its members that once you are saved you are still a sinner, but a sinner that has been saved by grace. In order to enter into true holiness and become more and more like Christ, you must begin the process of eliminating sin or sins in your life. Paul makes a list of those first sins to eliminate in Ephesians 4:25-32.
The first sin to eliminate is lying because it is a sin that even a child can do without being taught how to lie. I submit to you that the place where most lies take place for believers is in Worship Services whenever the offering plate is passed around.
The second sin to eliminate is untamed or persistent anger. Make no mistake about it, it is not a sin to get angry as long as it is the right kind of anger. We should all be angry over the segregation of churches. We should all be angry over how “church folk” are serving men more than God. We should all be angry over all the false teaching that is permeated throughout the Church. But the anger Paul is talking about is the anger that we allow to fluster against each other. That is why he says do not let the sun go down upon your wrath that comes about because of anger. By doing so, you are giving the devil an opportunity to wreak havoc with you.
The third sin to eliminate is stealing. Stealing comes in many different forms and the Bible says the best way to stop stealing is to labor or get a job. One of the great Christian Ideals is to work not to amass stuff, but to work, if need be, to give stuff away.
The fourth sin to eliminate is corrupt communication or foul language out of our mouths. We should speak to everyone in such a way that it builds them up and this is how we minster grace to those who need grace. If you do not have anything good to say to someone or about someone then it is best that you keep your mouth shut.
The fifth sin that must be eliminated as a result of receiving salvation is to eliminate resentment towards others because of bitterness, wrath, anger, evil speaking and clamor. We should all practice being kind and tenderhearted to one another. But most of all we should forgive one another as God has forgiven us.
Every believer who has accepted Christ must first eliminate these sins from their character. This puts you on the pathway to grow from faith to faith and from glory to glory. Salvation enables a person to begin the process of working on themselves to be all that God has called them to be. To put it another way, eliminating these sins first, and others later or at the same time, will show the believer, not who they are becoming, but who they already are.
In many churches, the first thing they do with a new convert is to put them to work in some position or capacity instead of focusing on teaching them what they have with salvation and what they must do next in their walk with Christ. Every new convert is a babe in Christ. They must be taught the ways of Christ before they are able to be a blessing to others and a blessing to themselves.
Pastor Gilbert Owens