Inner Defilement: Fruit Of Unforgiveness

I have read Ephesians 4:29-32 many times. I’ve even memorized it. Yet this time when I read it, the Holy Spirit showed me something I had not connected before.

We eat the fruit of our lives. So do others. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eats its fruit.” Ask yourself this: are the words that I speak to myself and others life-giving?

Our lives are to bear succulent fruit. Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”

The fruit of unforgiveness is poisonous! Paul described that heart-fruit as: corrupt or defiling words, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”

Both the verse in Proverbs and Hebrews use a word that denotes something quick that can’t be retrieved. Have you ever said something that you wish you could have taken back, but it was too late?

The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Forgiving those who have hurt us, in the same way that the Lord has forgiven us, will bear fruit indicative that we are walking in His grace. Our fruit then will be gifts of grace to those who eat from the tree of our life.

United To Walk In Righteousness

Paul addressed some essential truths in the end of Ephesians 4. They are truths that we need to speak in our heart, walk in, and inculcate in our actions. Verse 25 sets the stage. It says, “Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for WE are members of one another.” We are the church. In order to walk united we need to be sincere.

1 Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” In the days of dark bazaars, the vendors would cry out ‘sincere’ meaning there was no wax in their pots to cover up cracks.

Paul went on to explain how to walk in righteous victory with one another. Here is my paraphrase for verses 26-32. Repent of your anger before you go to bed, don’t allow unresolved issues to marinate in pride that produces bitter words and actions, do not quench the Holy Spirit, emulate the Lord’s character, and forgive in the same way that you have been forgiven.

Forgiveness is a choice, and to not forgive is sin which blocks our fellowship with God and those around us. Unforgiveness destroys from within, not only health wise, but it defiles the body of Christ. We will only be united in love, as we each walk in experiential truth that sets us free. United we will stand firm against the wiles of the enemy to divide and conquer. Let us collectively walk in His righteousness that will honor and glorify Him.

United Through Truth

In Ephesians 4:17-24 Paul was reminding them of how they used to be: futile thoughts, understanding darkened, alienated from God, and past feeling in their debauchery. Verse 22 says, “That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.”

While he told them to put off their former way of life, he said to put on something in its place. Verse 23 Amplified says, “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude).”

Paul wrote something similar to the church in Rome. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Conformed is like being pressed into a worldly mold or mindset. It is like they did in Nazi Germany through propaganda. Beware.

I love the word ‘transformed’ because I love butterflies. They speak to me of freedom from the past. No longer bound by crawling and eating leaves, but free to flit from flower to flower–drinking life-giving nectar.

Paul said that they were to put off in order to put on. It is a divine exchange. Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.” The butterfly doesn’t think like a caterpillar because it has been transformed through metamorphosis.

When we renew and saturate our minds with God’s truth, speak truth in our heart, we will walk in truth with others. That is the picture of the church. As we are united in truth, we will be a formidable force against the coercion of satan’s mold-forming tactics.

United To Grow

In Ephesians 4:7-16, Paul described God’s plan for growth in His body. He set in church leaders to equip His saints. Verse 13 says, “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Perfect in the Greek is telos which means mature or complete.

It reminds me of Philippians 1:6 which says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” We are in the process of maturity.

Ephesians 4:16 helps us understand how this growth takes place within His body. It says, “From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Colossians 3:14 says, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Again it is the Greek word that means maturity or completeness.

In a nutshell: we need each other to grow. Christ’s body is designed to function in synergy. One part supplies the need of the other. I was in Costa Rica on a mission trip. Our pastor-guide took us into a rainforest. He explained how the tall trees got the sun, but the low shrubs were always in the shade. They each supplied the nutrients the other didn’t have.

Synergy means: a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. 1 Corinthians 12:18 says, “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” May we grow where He has planted us. May we, the church, wholly reflect Him to those who are outside and in need of a Savior.

United In Christ

When I was in junior high I read this definition of fellowship: two fellows in a boat rowing for the same shore. Later I learned the Greek word koinonia which means fellowship.

Paul’s first section in Ephesians 4 was about unity. It takes me back to Psalm 133:1 which says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” I love this picture of unity in Acts 4:32. It says, “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul…they had all things in common.”

United, one accord, all things in common speak of the design for Christ’s body – the church. That is why we have to guard against any division. Romans 12:18 is our model. It says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Paul is a great example of this. Acts 24:16 says, “This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”

We have this warning in Matthew 12:25, “…Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Paul wrote many warnings. Here is another to remember. Galatians 5:9 says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Ecclesiastes further illustrates this principle. It says, “Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment…”

Ephesians 4:1 says, “I…beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” Then in verses 2-3 explained how: lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, and doing everything you can to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Verses 4-6 defined our oneness: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Every believer is part of the body. We all have an individual function that contributes to the health and growth of His body. Our untied purpose is that He will be glorified in all that we think, say, and do. Divided we fall, but united we stand. Let us do our part to protect and guard our unity 💜

Bookend Prayer With Humility & Praise

Paul’s prayer is a great example for us. Notice how he bookend his prayer with humility and praise. Ephesians 3:14 says, “…I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In verses 16-19 he petitioned the Lord. Verses 20-21 He praised the Lord for His character. They say, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians chapters one through three addressed our standing in Christ. Our standing will never change. Then in chapters four through six Paul addressed our state. His words instruct us in how to navigate through our myriad circumstances in life which are always changing. Our state is our walk with the Lord. It is a journey of progressive sanctification.

Chapter four is a powerful word to us about unity and how we should live. We are created to glorify the Lord in everything that we think, say, and do. Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is not My word like a fire? says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”

God’s ways, His will, and His purpose are our standard. As we daily read His word, our state goes through purifying fires and blows from His hammer. His word hidden in our heart is what the Holy Spirit uses to convict us when we don’t emulate the Lord. His truth is like a sentinel that warns us when we are about to step into enemy-traps of unseen temptations.

Father, I bow my heart before You. I acknowledge my utter dependence on You. Help us to walk in the truth of Your word. Help us to emulate You through our thoughts that lead to righteous words and actions. Thank You for Your unending mercy and abundant grace. To You belong all praise, and glory, and honor. There is no one Your equal. Amen.

Paul’s Prayer Template

If you don’t know how to pray for someone, Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is a great one. Ephesians 3:16 Amplified says, “May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the (Holy) Spirit (Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality).” I use this verse as a faith affirmation: I am right now being strengthened and reinforced in and by Your mighty power.

Verse 17 says, May Christ through your faith (actually) dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely in love.”

I had huge old oak trees in my former yard. There is a saying: The greatest oak was once a little nut who firmly held its ground. We need to send our tap root deep into the Lord by abiding in His word. He is our Source of life.

Verse 18 says, “That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints (God’s devoted people, the experience of that love) which is the breadth and length and height and depth (of it).”

Verse 19 says, “(That you may really come) to know (practically, through experience for yourselves) the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge (without experience); that you may be filled (through all your being) unto all the fullness of God (may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself)!”

Mystery Revealed

In Ephesians 3:8 Paul said that he was given grace to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. I love his verse in Romans 11:33. It says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

Ephesians 3:9 says, “And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden…” Why? God was waiting for us! Verse 10 says, “To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and power in the heavenly places.”

Manifold means: much varied, with many shades, tints, hues, and colorful expressions. It reminds me of my childhood kaleidoscope. It kept me enthralled and entertained. With just a smidgen of movement, the view would dramatically change.

We cannot know all of God’s wisdom and knowledge. It is hidden. Colossians 2:3 says, “In whom are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us…”

Colossians 1:26 says, “The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.” What was the mystery? Verse 27 says, “…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 says, “…the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

Jesus’ death on the cross glorified the Father. Through His death, burial, and resurrection we have the gospel. When we believe it, He sets us free from satan’s slave block, transforms our lives, and uses us to display His many-faceted wisdom before satan and his minions. All glory to God in the highest!

God’s Transforming Power

Ephesians 3 takes us back to Acts 9 when God encountered Saul of Tarsus. You might remember that Ananias gave Saul his marching orders. Acts 9:15-16 says, “…he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Ephesians 3:1 says, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles.” Verse 6-7 says, “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.”

We are those Gentiles who have received that gospel! Our lives were indeed transformed. We were alienated, but through believing the gospel we became partakers of His goodness. We have all benefited from Paul’s writings.

Acts 9 started out with Saul ‘breathing out threats and murder’ but God intercepted Saul’s way to redirect him into His way. I love verse 20. It says, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” Verse 21 says that those who heard him were amazed.

We are also called by grace to minister the gospel to others. Paul called it a holy calling in 2 Timothy 1:9. It is only through believing the gospel that inner transformation takes place.

Romans 6:4 described that divine exchange. It says, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

The same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead is within us. Just as He gave Paul a ministry of grace, He has given us the same. Let us walk in humility so that His grace empowers us to do what He has called us to do. Each of us is a unique part of His body, supplying gifts of grace to fulfill His purpose for His church on the earth.

The Church Triumphant!

Ephesians 2:21-22 says, “In whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” When king Solomon built the temple, he had all the stones quarried and then placed together. They were created to fit before they were laid.

It is time for the church to rise up and walk in her destiny. We, the church, are God’s display on this earth and to the hosts of wickedness. We are living stones built together to be united under one purpose ~ God’s. Beware of satan’s device work to divide. He hates families, and he hates the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

Verse 20 says, “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” There is only one Head. Colossians 2:19 says, “And not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.”

We are created to fit together, with each member having their own function in the body. We are corporate. We may not personally know other living stones in other countries, but that is why we need to be in a local body of believers.

I like to think about the group of folks in the upper room. Acts 2:1 says that they were of one accord. 120 folks having one mind and purpose. I surmise that there were some heart discussions. Perhaps offenses were cleared up, and forgiveness was asked for and freely given.

The Strong’s definition for one accord is: being unanimous, having mutual consent, and group unity. Their heart rapport was the foundation the Lord used to lay in building His new church. 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”