The Word of God calls us to the ongoing discipline of putting off the old self and putting on the new self, “who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:10). As long as we live in these earthly bodies, these bodies of death (Romans 7:24), we will need to heed the command to “walk no longer as the Gentiles walk,” but rather “be renewed in the spirit of [our] mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:17-24).
A significant area of our lives in which the new-self needs to be applied is that of communication in our horizontal relationships with one another as believers, as well as our communication with non-believers. As Paul moves from the reasons for “the replacement principle” (replacing old ways with new ways), he gets specific in his application. In the remainder of Ephesians 4, we find 12 qualities of communication that reflects the work of the gospel in our hearts.
- New-life communication is true (v. 25). See also Proverbs 4:24; 12:17, 19, 22; 14:5, 25.
- New-life communication is self-controlled and solution-oriented (vv. 26-27). See also Proverbs 14:29; 19:11; 26:20, 24-26; and James 1:19-20.
- New-life communication is healthy and health-giving (v. 29). See also Proverbs 15:4, 26 and James 3:1-10.
- New-life communication is edifying to others (v. 29). See also Proverbs 10:21 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
- New-life communication is time-sensitive (v. 29). See also Proverbs 15:23 and Colossians 4:6.
- New-life communication is grace-dispensing (v. 29). See also Proverbs 12:18 and Colossians 4:6.
- New-life communication is not fueled by anger or bitterness (v. 31). See also Psalm 64:2-3; Proverbs 29:22; 30:33.
- New-life communication is not loud and obnoxious [clamorous] (v. 31). See also Proverbs 15:1; 25:15.
- New-life communication is not abusive (v. 31). See also Proverbs 18:21; 12:6; 16:27; and 1 Corinthians 5:11 (“reviler” = verbal abuser).
- New-life communication is kind (v. 32). See also Proverbs 3:3; 19:22.
- New-life communication is wise and compassionate (v. 32). See also Proverbs 10:31; 16:21; Colossians 3:12.
- New-life communication extends forgiveness (v. 32). See also Colossians 3:13 and Matthew 18:21-35.
Since we as believers are “in Christ,” the Holy Spirit will not be content to leave areas of our life untouched, uninfluenced, at least not forever. He will continue His patient, but persistent work of transforming us into the image of Christ as we behold the glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:18).