A 2016 survey by LifeWay Research revealed that 67 percent of Americans admit they’re sinners. Of that total, only 5 percent are okay with it, which indicates that the rest want to change their lives. But just 28 percent say they rely on Jesus to overcome sin. The remaining 34 percent are working on being less sinful and improving themselves on their own.
This is hopeless, for salvation is by grace through faith, not works. Victory over sin comes only through the blood of Christ. Today’s passage gives specific examples of righteousness in the daily lives of followers of Jesus—qualities to be cultivated, actions to be taken, commands to be obeyed.
Two examples come from the realm of speech or words (vv. 25, 29). We’re to speak truthfully, not to lie. We’ve been liberated from ignorance and deceit and must instead speak the truth to one another in love. We’re also to engage in edifying talk, not unwholesome conversation. To edify means to communicate in a way that benefits the listener. This implies attentiveness, discernment, and care.
Another example is not to let anger become sin (vv. 26–27). As Christians, we should take care of issues as soon as possible, because to let them fester could give the devil a foothold in our lives and make things worse. Yet another example is to work hard and diligently, not to be lazy or dishonest (v. 28).
Additional examples of vices to put off are found in verse 31, and additional examples of virtues to put on are in verse 32. The overarching idea is not to do anything that would grieve the Holy Spirit and oppose His sanctifying work in our lives (v. 30). Sin saddens God, for it means we’re choosing against His grace.
The exhortation to diligent work is not so that we can accumulate material blessings but so that we can share generously with others (v. 28). This runs counter to American culture, in which we tend to feel, “It’s my money, I can do with it whatever I like.” If needed, seek Christ’s help to “put on the new”!