According to Ephesians 4:25-32, the believer is to put off the sin stained garments of the old man. When a person clothes himself, he wants to be sure to put on the right clothes. If he dresses improperly and puts on clothes that clash and are unacceptable, he is unacceptable and rejected by most people.
In the same way, there are things that we are to put on and things that we are not to put on; things that are to clothe our lives and things that are not to clothe our lives. The present passage discusses the things that are to be stripped off.
The believer is to put off the garments of lying (v.25), of anger (v.26-27), of stealing (v.28), of worthless talk (v.29), of being contrary (v.30), and of unkindness (v.31).
Telling a lie misrepresents the truth. It camouflages and hides the truth. The person lied to does not know the truth; therefore, he has to act or live upon a lie. If the lie is serious, it can be very damaging.
The point to see is that lying is a deception, and deception eventually causes misunderstanding, disappointment, bewilderment, helplessness and emotional upheaval.
Scripture gives one strong reason for believers to speak only the truth: they are members of one another. Every believer is a member of the great body of people which God is building, the body of Christ, that is, the church.
The believer is to also strip away the garment of anger. Men do become angry: note that Scripture recognizes this. There are times when anger is called for, but we are to guard against sinning when we become angry.
Anger causes us to react, lash out and hurt others as it seeks to destroy a man and his reputation morally, intellectually, and spiritually, or else it motivates us to right wrongs and correct injustices. There is right anger or what may be called justified anger. However, a justified anger is always disciplined and controlled; it is always limited to those who do wrong either against God or against others.
The distinguishing mark between justified and unjustified anger is that a justified anger is never selfish; it is never shown because of what has happened to oneself. It is an anger that is purposeful. The believer knows that he is angry for a legitimate reason, and he seeks to correct the situation in the most peaceful way possible.
The believer must also strip away the garment of stealing. The word “steal” means to cheat, to take wrongfully from another person, either legally or illegally. Note that the laws of men are not the determining rule governing whether a person is stealing or not. This is what is so often misunderstood about stealing. Very simply stated, the Bible teaches that stealing is the taking of anything that rightfully or by nature belongs to others.
Next, the believer is to strip away filthy and foul talk. The word “corrupt” means rotten, foul, putrid and polluting. Corrupt talk, of course, would include cursing and unholy talk and even the worthless conversation that is so often carried on by people. Scripture says that a man with a foul mouth has a mouth that is “an open sepulchre [grave]” (Romans 3:13). An open grave is foul, and it is a symbol of corruption. So is a man with a sinful mouth.
Finally in this passage, the believer is to strip away the garment of being contrary to or of grieving the Holy Spirit. “Grieving” means to pain; to offend; to vex; to sadden the Holy Spirit. When a child acts contrary to the counsel of his parents, he hurts and grieves them. So when a person acts contrary to the counsel of the Holy Spirit, he hurts and grieves Him. Note three points.
First, the command is forceful, very forceful. This is seen in the name of the Holy Spirit. He is not only called the Holy Spirit here, He is called both the Holy Spirit and “the Spirit of God”—a double reference.
Second, there are at least four ways the Holy Spirit can be grieved: He is grieved when believers allow impure things to penetrate their life or thoughts. (Romans 8:5-7); He is grieved when believers behave immorally. (Romans 8:12-13); He is grieved when believers act unjustly. (Acts 5:3-4); He is grieved when believers participate in anything contrary to the nature of the Holy Spirit. Note the context of this passage: the command to “grieve not the Spirit” is surrounded by a series of negative commands. (Romans 8:8-10).
According to Ephesians 4:32; the believer needs to put on the garments of the new man. Frankly, this verse speaks for itself more forcefully than any commentary ever could. The word “kind” means to be gentle, caring, helpful, courteous, good, useful, giving, and showering favors upon people. It is the opposite of being neglectful, harsh, sharp, bitter, and resentful.
Lehman Strauss points out that kindness comes from such words as kin and kindred which means that it treats a person as one’s own kin. Believers are brothers in the Lord. Other scriptural examples include: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10); “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (Col. 3:12).
The word “tenderhearted” here means to show compassion, mercy, understanding, love, tenderness, and warmth. It means to be aware of a person’s hurts and sufferings, problems and difficulties, emotions and mental state, physical and spiritual condition. It means to be tenderhearted toward them.
The word “forgiving” here means to be gracious to a person, to pardon him for some wrong done. Note that the person has done wrong; he has hurt and caused us pain. But the command is to still forgive him. Let us never forget; the reason we should forgive each other is because God has forgiven us.