Sermon Quick Notes – Ephesians 4:29-30

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:29-30 ESV)

No means none.

Paul leaves no room for mushiness.  Though the standard is high, the imperative stands.

Do not let anything we say corrupt or corrode the unity of the church.

Context is our calling by God to be His restored children who constitute His people with whom He dwells.  Does He want to live in the house we are building with our words?  With our words, we are called to walk in a manner worthy of the calling as those created to speak in our dominion and stewardship of the world and one another, whose ability to do that was lost and subjected to curse and corruption but restored by the power of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, at work in resurrection, redemption, and restoration.

The same verses as last week from Genesis 1 and 2 hang as a narrative tapestry in the background, telling of our goodness as created and the glory of the restoration in progress.  The certainty of the restoration gives hope for the redemption and restoration of even the power of the tongue to its original creative use, now redeemed and capable of being an instrument of grace that itself takes part in the restoration of God’s kingdom and, in fact, Edenic shalom.

The tongue is beyond human taming but not beyond God’s redemption and restoration.

It’s good to recall the James passage on the tongue here because it reminds us just how powerful words are.  To create and to destroy.  The Lord speaks us and everything else into existence; we curse people made in His image; and the eternal λόγος (logos)comes to make it and us right again.

How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  (Matt. 12:34-35 ESV)

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (Jas. 3:5-10 ESV)

The didactic and imperative passages of the NT are full of hope because they are all directed to these purposes as promises to accomplish these things by the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.  Here, verses 22-24 are the anchor of this hope with the restored (renewed = re-new = new again) ability to put off our old selves—a past full of corrupt responses to the lie of our dishonest desires that we have left behind—and to wear around the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The word builds the house.

οἰκοδομὴν – literally the process of building the construction.  οἰκος = house, δομή = building, corresponds to δέμω to build.  Building the house. Are you putting up the house or are you doing demo or permitting decay or waste?  You’ve lived in good homes and bad homes.  Is every nail we are driving with our words driven with the longevity, durability, and stability in mind?  Could we build another story up on top of us?  Are the walls we are framing built to last?  Will the windows keep out the weather and pests?

Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. (2 Cor. 12:19 ESV)

Building up inherently requires reference to the listeners and the relationships among them. We are not speaking just to hear our heads head talk, but to pursue to good and the growth of the other parts of the body together into one, “grow[ing] up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:15-16 ESV)

What is that smell?

σαπρός (sapros) – decayed, rotten Bad, rotten, decaying as fruit (Matt 7:17-18, 12:33, and Luke 6:43) or rotting fish (Matt 13).  If you eat rotten food you get sick.

This word implies power. Words with the power to spoil or decay. To wither or putrify.  Gossip and slander are both in view here and damage unity by ascribing wrong motives and misrepresenting the truth.

As fits the occasion.

Literally, according to need necessity, particularly related to a duty, task, or function. Because we are in the context of building it is necessarily meeting the other where they are, the prodigal father running out to meet the lost son with his words.

The deposed king.

λυπεῖτε (lupeite) –  to cause severe mental or emotional distress.   In Polyaenus 8, 47 it is used of the severe humiliation or outrage experienced by a king who has been deposed by his subjects.

The Holy Spirit is grieved when we fall short of the power of the resurrection and redemption that has already been accomplished as a promise that the Holy Spirit will make the character and righteousness of Christ real in our lives.

Vogler, 08.26.18
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