By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Ephesians 4.17-32
Note to the Reader – I encourage the reader to invest additional time reading the letter of Ephesians in conjunction with this article.
Living the True Life
This week we arrive at Ephesians chapter four. This chapter contains many lessons, two of which are: working to maintain peace in the body (4.1-6); and the diversity of people for the unity of the body (4.7-16, esp. 11-13). But we will examine some passages that apply to our continued study of true life.
Paul Gives a Reminder
Beginning with Ephesians 4.17 through 6.18, Paul encourages the readers to live the true life. But before Paul gives details on how to truly live, he reminds the readers of something critical. Paul brings a reminder of true death, true transformation and true life. In 4.22, Paul speaks again of true death – death being the old person who lives a sinful life. Ephesians 4.23 (cf. 2.5-7) addresses true transformation and that true death becomes true life when righteousness and true holiness are the daily pursuit of the individual (4.24).
Living the True Life
Paul does not leave his statement without concrete examples of identifying the true life. Previously in the article The Book of Ephesians, it was mentioned that Ephesians 4-6 contain “thirty-five directives that speak of believers’ responsibility to conduct themselves according to their calling.”1 Counting those 35 directives may be dependent on the reader, but it was interesting to me that there seem to be 11 of these “directives” found in 4.25-32. The eleven I found:
- 4.25 – Tell the Truth
- 4.26a – Remain Calm
- 4.26b – Resolve Problems
- 4.27 – Negate Temptations
- 4.28a – Stop Stealing
- 4.28b – Produce and Contribute
- 4.29a – Speak Honorably
- 4.29b – Speak Kindly
- 4.30 – Please God’s Spirit
- 4.31 – Purge Impurities
- 4.32 – Practice Goodness
The nature of articles does not permit individual examination of these eleven, so I will briefly examine only one, Tell the Truth, the first out of the gate from Paul, and perhaps the foundation on which all the other precepts, concepts and/or “directives” for living the true life are based.
Tell the Truth
It seems to me that this is one of the greatest challenges our of day. It seems that truth depends on many factors. Who was there during the event? When did the event in question happen? What was the purpose of the event? Amid a myriad of other possibilities. The truth, it seems, is defined by each party involved in the event and thereby any core truth is not absolute.
The truth is that truth is not relative. Truth cannot, as defined2 be relative. Consider the following:
Some say that truth is relative,
- Does this statement include itself; or
- Does this statement exclude itself?
If “truth is relative” and this statement includes itself, then how does one know that statement is truth, since truth is relative?3 If “truth is relative” and this statement excludes itself, then relative truth has become absolute, which violates its philosophical definition.
The real issue is that we, as a society, have been sold a “bill of goods” that results in nothing but heartache when the truth is really identified. Truth is truth. Truth sometimes hurts. And truth sometimes forces us to face consequences. Mercy can remove some, and sometimes all, consequences, but not continued cover-ups, falsehoods and non-truth. One final thought, just because truth is truth, does not permit anyone to carelessly speak the truth without any concern or regard for the method, style, or tone of delivery. We need to practice tact in truth-telling. After all, if you are the one being told “hard truth” do you want it delivered kindly, or harshly? Speaking the truth requires the application of the Golden Rule, Matthew 7.12, and Ephesians 4.15.
Living the True Life is not always easy, but living the True Life is the best experience anyone can have for this existence. While we cannot examine everything Paul has to say about living the true life, I hope that in our next two articles we can examine True Life practices from chapters 5 and 6. The True Life revealed by God truly best answers and addresses four major issues of existence:
- Origin – where did I come from?
- Meaning – Why am I here?
- Morality – What am I to do?
- Destiny – Where am I going?
May we all be blessed by finding the True Life, learning to live that True Life and have the best experience of human existence that God can provide.
1. Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, Ephesians, p. 406, ISBN 0-7852-1154-3.
2. Dictionary.com’s eleven definitions of truth, March 13, 2008,
- The true or actual state of a matter
- Conformity with fact or reality
- A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like
- The state of character of being true
- Actuality or actual existence
- An obvious or accepted fact, truism, platitude
- Honesty; integrity; truthfulness
- (Often initial capital letter) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life
- Agreement with a standard or original
- Accuracy, as of position or adjustment
- Archaic: fidelity or constancy.
3. Dictionary.com’s third definition of relative “something dependent upon external conditions for its specific nature, size, etc. (as opposed to absolute)” March 13, 2008.