In this 4th chapter of his Epistle to the church at Ephesus, Paul begins v.1-16 with an exhortation to Christian Unity. In v.17-24 we find his opening of today’s theme Living the New Life in Christ where Paul emphasizes putting away the old life and adopting the new life wrapped in the likeness of God.
In order to get to pour main text above I need to again put it in context of the whole with which it was written v.25-32:
25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,[j] because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin.[k] Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity.28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need,[l]so that it gives grace to those who hear.30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him[m] for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you[n] in Christ (CSB)
If we just take v.32 it sounds goo, in fact I am sure many of us have heard if said by non-believers accusingly something like; ‘I thought you Christians were supposed to be king and caring full of forgiveness.’
So how is it “we Christians” can answer those accusations? Paul tells us in the text:
Always speak the truth to our neighbors.
If you get angry (natural for all men) do not let it cause you to sin.
Do not give the devil a toe hold in your life. If you are angry at someone deal with it Matthew 18:15 (note while this addresses Christian brothers it is applicable to all)
Work hard and share with those in need. Haters will always be out there, but it is hard to argue with hard work and caring. (Matthew 25:40)
We (God’s Chosen Elect) Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) the Third person of the Triune Godhead. As such He cannot abide with sin Psalm 5:4 says For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot dwell with you. By putting away sin that is making every effort not to sin and when we do to quickly confess our sins, we avoid Grieving the Holy Spirit
Finally whatever comes out of our mouths must be Graceful to the hearers. You do not want folks hearing you trash talk others, curse and carry on. In all our speech Glorify God.
We cannot on our own do any of this. That is (in my opinion) why Paul reminds the Church at Ephesus to Unify in fellowship and as individuals to put on the new life in Christ. Our strength to defeat our old ways and the devils temptations comes not from self but from God and fellowship with like minded brethren.