When God saves us by His grace, He places within us a new nature that is able to enjoy what is right, and have fellowship with God who is perfect in holiness. The capacity to please Him, serve Him and love Him is part of this new creation. But He has not made us mindless robots. So He has left us with choices to make and consequences to accept in order that our fellowship with Him be meaningful and intelligent. In view of that, we have decisions to make regarding our past life and the world system that lives without God, through which we are passing. We live in the world but are not to be conformed to it. We work in it but are not to copy it. It seeks to attracts us to its ways but we are not to yield to its temptations. That means I have to make choices about my behavior, business and actions by which I will live. They will not be normal to my past life and will cause separations between me and those who will be offended at my convictions.
A class of children were asked to give a definitions of a lie. One boy said,” A lie is an abomination to the Lord, and a very present help in time of trouble.” This humorous comment may have been said or not. However, it does express how many people in the world view lying. For the believers who are “renewed” in their minds, there must be a careful distinction between lying and truthfulness. Anything that shades the truth or exaggerates a matter is lying. Deliberately failing to keep promises, cheating and flattery are lying. Evading what I have committed to, or am obligated to do, along with betraying confidence place in me, is lying. The results of lying involves lack of trust and the breakdown of relationships. Conflicts between individuals, groups of people, churches or even nations may come as a result of not “speaking truth with his neighbor.” We are not able to live without interacting with other people, and trust makes the difference between peace or conflict.
Anger and peacefulness are strangers to each other. Righteous anger when the character of God is impugned and anger against evil is not sinful anger. However, even this can not be allowed to continue uncontrolled. Controlled anger against evil is legitimate because there is a righteous reason behind it. Uncontrolled anger is potentially dangerous to other people, relationships with other people, and fellowship with God. It gives Satan an opportunity to divert our thoughts and actions to where they should not go. The only way we can control anger is to not act or speak in haste. Be deliberate in the words we use and how we use them. Emotion out of control leads to sinful anger which has to be confessed, forsaken and the consequences caused by it have to be made right.
Stealing or sharing is another area of the changed life of a new man that needs to be faced. There is more involved in stealing than taking money or goods that belong to another person or business. If I am not fulfilling the expectations of my employer because I take a few minutes extra at my lunch hour to witness to another person, I am stealing time I owe him. If I take the words of another and imply they are mine, I am stealing his efforts. If I pad an expense account or cheat on taxes, I am stealing that which belongs to a company or the government. To short-change on measurements or weights is taking what is not mine, no matter how I might justify the action. The principle of life under which the walk of the new man is conducted, includes that fact that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” We are expected to share with people rather than take from people.
There is a great deal of difference between worthless words and edifying words. An off-color story is obviously wrong and should not be in the vocabulary of the new man. But included in the words, “corrupt communication,” is frivolous talk that is empty of any reason for being spoken. Idle useless chatter that is profitless, may not seem to be a serious offense, but the problem is the human tongue is a dangerous tool, and idle words may lead to misunderstanding and sin that we never even thought of. That is why we will give account for “every idle word” in a coming day. At the moment it may seem to be, and in truth may be, innocent. But once they are spoken there is no control as to how far words will go. Our words should be appropriate words that build up those who hear them. Gracious words “minister grace to the hearers.” People “marveled at the gracious words” the Lord Jesus spoke when He was here. “Never man spake like this Man,” was a testimony of some who heard Him speak.
We have an obligation to our neighbors and the members of the body of Christ to have a truthful tongue because we belong to Christ, a calm spirit within that keeps our emotions in check and under control, and controlled anger that is in no way tainted by sin, but is deliberately directed against evil. We need to be conscious of the evil and hatred the devil will try to bring about when emotions are high. He hears our words and will seek to change the meaning and the reasons behind them. It is wrong for us to harbor anger for any length of time. We are to act responsibly in providing for our needs, the needs of our family and to share what we have with others. Gain gotten by wrong means is not ours and is never to be a part of what the new man claims as his. When honest labor is done, we can with a good and honest heart, give of that to others. That is how we give the Lord His due. We serve the Lord by serving people. We are to “bring our tithes into the storehouse.” Sanctified speech should be characteristic of a person who is a child of God. This is not the “corrupt communication,” the polluted, putrid speech that is commonly spoken by many people around us. At the same time, we should not maintain an artificial silence so that we won’t make a mistake. That is not honest. Deliberate communication is possible for any God has saved, and is part of the reason why we are still here. Gracious words are a life-line, a help, to others. So we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit by saying or doing what is wrong.
To abstain from all the sins of the tongue and temperament will maintain peace among God’s people. We learn how this is done from the Lord and His example, and by acting in love toward others. This is totally new change in attitude that leads us to unselfish concern for them rather than bitterness and resentment fro our spirit within. Our actions will be changed when the inward wrath and rage that is ready to erupt in anger is controlled by yielding to the Holy Spirit and not grieving Him. Any outward corruption of wrath is anger and has the danger of showing hostility and abusive words that come out loud and clamorous.
This is all replaced in the new person in Christ who does not grieve the Spirit because of a new motivation to please God. There is a sympathetic response to others when that underlying, insulting mean spirit of malice is replaced by kindness and a new attitude of heart toward people and God. By the authority of the Lord, those worthless, evil traits are completely intolerable and is replaced by a forgiving spirit and forgiving actions. In that way we are imitating God who forgave us because Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. The choices we make as believers who walk worthy of our calling, can bring good and many positive consequences to us, to others and to the Lord.