When you are converted, the whole of you is changed. In Ephesians 4, Paul starts with the general transformation that happens in someone who is converted, and then moves on to eventually explain what that transformation looks like in the specific.
In the general, those who loved sin are changed into those who love God. Those who lived for themselves and committed vile acts of self-gratification have become ones who love others and live in self-sacrifice. Finally, those whose minds before devised wickedness and darkness have had their minds renewed by the Spirit of God to think on things that are pleasing to God.
Continuing his explanation of this transformation, Paul moves on to the specifics of transformation in verse 25. However, as we read it, we must notice the types of words that Paul chooses. Describing the new nature of someone who has been converted, Paul chooses imperatives instead of declaratives. This means that Paul expresses the nature of those who have been transformed in terms of commands. Typically, when we describe others we don’t describe them in terms of commands. We would say, “Johnny is tall,” or “Sally is nice.” Here Paul in essence says, “Johnny, be tall,” and “Sally, be nice.”
“Speak every man truth with his neighbor.”So have we been converted or not? Has the transformation taken place or not? Throughout the rest of the Epistle to the Ephesians we must understand this, that since we have been transformed by the power of the gospel, we will now live lifestyles of obedience to God. We understand that although God has declared us righteous and has placed in us a new heart that can now understand and obey his laws, we still need to live in ways of obedience.
With the Holy Spirit of God empowering us to obey God and to love others as we ought, we still must strive to obey. The transformation of the Christian is something that occurs at conversion, but it is something that also occurs throughout the life of the Christian. At no point should we ever say, “Well, I’m done being transformed! I’ve basically got this Christian life nailed.”
Rather in desperation and dependence, we should constantly see the commands of Scripture and rejoice in the power that we have been given to obey them. Before, we loved sin and deception, but having been transformed we have been given the ability to love God and do what he commands. As Christians we can now read the commands of Scripture with a different perspective.
Now, when we hear the command, “putting away lying lips, speak every man truth with his neighbor,” we should be able to say, “Yes, with the help of the Holy Spirit who has transformed me, I can do this. I don’t have to be a constant liar anymore, rather, with his help, I have been given a converted nature and I can become a proclaimer of the truth!”
The commands are not just a list of “what to do’s” they are a list of “what you can do’s” through the power of the Holy Spirit that is in you working to grow you in godliness. So, now, be encouraged and pursue holy obedience. Seek to live a lifestyle that is markedly different from the one you lived before you were converted. Embrace the imperatives as your new identity and trust the Holy Spirit to give you strength and power as you strive to obey Him.
Reflect: What specific contrast does Paul make between the unconverted and the converted lifestyle in Ephesians 4:25?