Sermon: The New Man’s Clothes: Graceful Speaking Instead Of Corrupt Words


29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:29–30)




A. The New Man’s Clothes


We’ve been learning that clothing is like behavior. A judge who puts on his or her robes behaves in an authoritative manner. A policeman in uniform behaves differently then when he is at home playing with his children. A soldier in fatigues understands that he is representing his country and behaves differently as a result.


A Christian is someone saved by Christ and made by him into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), or as Ephesians 4:24 put it, a new man. So a Christian is to wear different clothes—a different behavior—then he or she did before they were saved.


So far in the last part of Ephesian 4, we have learned that the Christian is to take off the old clothes of the old, sinful life that they once lived and put on the new clothing of the new man.


Beginning in verse 25, we’ve seen specific examples of what that will look like. We saw that the new man (which is what every Christian is) wears:


1. Truth instead of Lying.

2. Anger that is Settled Quickly.

3. Hard Work instead of Stealing.


In verses 29 and 30 we are going to see another piece of clothing that the new man wears: Graceful Speaking Instead Of Corrupt Words.


B. The Power Of Speech


Speaking is a wonderful thing, something that reminds us of our special creation in God’s image. Nothing else in creation speaks, at least not as humans do. Every toddler knows that cows go “moo,” dogs go “bow-wow,” and cats go “meow.” The human toddler, however, also knows that they can say far more.


Aside from our minds, our tongues are the greatest gift and the worst curse that we have as human beings. James points this out when he writes:


6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:6–10)


The tongue is a fire! With that sort of power in speech, it’s no wonder that we are told in Ephesians 4:29 that a Christian should…



Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 


A. Corrupt Words


The word for “corrupt” (σαπρὸς, σαπρός, JNSM) is used eight times in the New Testament—in the Gospels, Jesus uses it to describe a corrupt fruit tree (Matthew 7:17-18, 12:33; Luke 6:43). 


The word has the sense of being rotten, spoiled, unusable, unwholesome, or of poor quality (in Matthew 13:48 it describes spoiled fish that were cast away). Rotten or spoiled food not only doesn’t taste good, it can harm the one eating it. 


Rotten, or corrupt, words are the same way: they don’t taste good and they hurt the person they are directed at.


In Colossians 3:8, Paul uses a similar phrase, there he says to put off “filthy communication” (αἰσχρολογίαν). A definition of “filthy communication” is “obscene, shameful speech.”


Keep in mind, that this is more than what we call cuss words. Even if you don’t use cuss words, you could still be guilty of using words meant to harm someone. That’s the basic point here.


But cussing especially is that language that is meant to communicate harm to someone else. Think how many four letter words are coupled with the word “you” after it. The intention is to harm or put down someone else.


B. …Proceed From The Heart


Paul says that we are not to let filthy, corrupt, communication  “proceed” (ἐκπορευέσθω, ἐκπορεύομαι, VPUM3S) from our mouth. But where do the words really come from? Jesus said:


18 But those things which proceed [same word as in Ephesians 4:29] out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed [not the same word] evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: (Matthew 15:18–19)


If you are struggling with your language—whether it be cussing, or sarcastic words, or putting down other people—then look to your heart first. There you might find the seeds of hate or jealousy toward the other person that drives you to spew out such language.


You should also make a habit of praying as David did when he prayed:


3 Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3)


In other words, be concerned about your speech, because it reflects your heart. Practice taking off rotten words…




Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 


Gracious speech has three identifying characteristics: “…but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”


A. Necessary


“good to the use of edifying” (οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας) The word for “use” (χρείας) refers to a need. You could say that the words we use are “useful or needful or necessary for edifying.” The idea is that we need to think: “Is this appropriate or necessary to say?” 



If you have to preface what you are going to say with “I probably shouldn’t say this,” then you probably shouldn’t say that. If it’s not useful or necessary, then just keep your mouth shut.


11 A word fitly spoken Is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)


23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: And a word spoken in due season, how good is it! (Proverbs 15:23)


This doesn’t mean that we can’t ever say anything negative about someone else. Sometimes unpleasant things must be spoken in regards to a person with problems. 


The check will be the motive in saying those things: are you saying them to help them? Or do you speak them in defense of yourself, to make yourself look good, etc.? 


In short, are the words that you are about to say truly necessary?


Secondly, gracious speech is…


B. Edifying


The word “edifying” (οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας), refers to either a building (as in Matthew 24:1) or it can also refer to the process of building as it does here. It’s definitely a construction kind of word.


Gracious speaking seeks to, in the end, build up another person. It’s constructive, helpful, encouraging, and even sometimes corrective. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about edifying speech, one verse worth pondering is:


18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: But the tongue of the wise is health. (Proverbs 12:18)


Whether or not our speech is edifying first goes back to our heart motive: why are we saying this? Is it because we’ve been hurt and we want to lash back? Is it because we are jealous? Is it because we’re annoyed with the person?


Unless we truly want to help a person, our speech cannot be edifying. It will not be health, but only like the piercings of a sword. Remember the old saying: if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. 


Finally, as you might expect, gracious speech is…


C. Graceful


Paul stated that our speech must be such “that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (see Colossians 4:6). What is that sort of speech like? How can our words give grace to someone else?


First, “grace” (χάριν, χάρις) means to have a beneficial or generous attitude toward someone. The Greek word for “grace” and for “gift” are the same. Grace is a gift because it is undeserved…if it was deserved then it wouldn’t be a gift, it would be a wage. 


You could say that Christmas is a season of grace because we give gifts to one another in remembrance of the gift God gave that we didn’t deserve.


So when we speak words that minister grace to another person, they will be words that benefit them, that are gifts to them. 


That’s something we can remember this Christmas season—are the words that we use gifts to other people? Or do our words take from them?


As a Christian, you are to take off the clothes of rotten words and put on the clothes of gracious speech…




Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 


A. The Grieving Of The Holy Spirit


Many Bible commentators think that verse 30 is linked to verse 29, but some Bible editors will put it in a different paragraph. I am convinced that verse 30 is linked to verse 29.


We understand that any sin will grieve the Holy Spirit, but this verse is linked to the one before, so it seems that rotten, hurtful language is especially grieving to the Spirit.


“grieve” (λυπεῖτε, λυπέω, VPAM2P) comes from the Greek word meaning to offend, insult, inflict pain, or to make sad. It’s the same word to describe Jesus’ emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane where it says that he “began to be sorrowful and very heavy” (Matthew 26:37).


The fact that the Holy Spirit can be grieved is more evidence that he is a person, and not a force from God. A person can be grieved, a force cannot. Perhaps one reason that we sin is that we don’t consider that we are always sinning against a person. The Spirit is that person. We should think more about who we are hurting when we sin, such as when we speak bad words.


Since the “Spirit of God” is “holy,” it stands to reason that he would be offended by whatever is unholy. One Bible scholar wrote:


…the Holy Spirit is a sensitive Spirit. He hates sin, discord and falsehood, and shrinks away from them. Therefore, if we wish to avoid hurting him, we shall shrink from them too. Every Spirit-filled believer desires to bring him pleasure, not pain. (John R. W. Stott, God’s New Society: The Message of Ephesians, The Bible Speaks Today [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979], 189)


Every time we cuss, or speak evil of someone, we are hurting the Holy Spirit. When you think about it, that is a terrible thing for a Christian to do!


How could we possibly want to cause the Spirit grief? After all, Paul says, we were sealed by the Spirit when we were first saved. 


B. The Sealing Of The Holy Spirit


“whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”


“sealed” (ἐσφραγίσθητε, σφραγίζω, VAPI2P) The seal that is referred to here is a seal of identification or of certification, such as the seal of a notary public. In the first chapter of Ephesians, we learned that every believer is sealed with the Spirit when he or she is saved.


13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13)


What does it mean to be “sealed” with the Spirit? Sealing with the Spirit conveys ideas like ownership, authority, purity, and security. Because it says that we are “sealed unto the day of redemption,” it seems here in verse 30 that the focus is on our security. 


The “day of redemption” refers to the day that Jesus returns and completes our redemption by giving us new resurrection bodies. What Paul is saying is that when you were saved, you were also sealed for that future day. You will make it to that time—you will not lose your salvation along the way.


Think of a bottle of medicine that you buy at the store. On the cap you might read, “Do not use if seal is broken.” That seal indicates security for you: no one has tampered with the contents of the bottle between the factory and the store. 


That’s what the Holy Spirit does for every Christian—he guarantees that we will make it to the end—his seal is proof of that. 


What does the sealing of the Holy Spirit have to do with our speech, with whether or not we use corrupt language?


To speak with foul or rotten or hurtful language would indicate how ungrateful a Christian would be—he would be grieving the very Spirit who has sealed them for eternal life.


Imagine a very wealthy and very kind father bringing in his teenaged son and saying, “Son, I wanted to let you know that I just signed a guarantee that cannot be revoked. This guarantee entitles you to ten million dollars when you turn thirty years old. There are no conditions attached. You are my son…I guarantee that you will receive this money in a few years.”


Now, how is the kindly father going to feel when his son bad-mouths people, causes harm to others, and even uses his father’s name in vain? He will be grieved at the disrespect that his son has shown to him and especially the disregard his son had for the sealed guarantee his father had given him.


Christian, you have been given a gift: You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit for all of eternity. You will have unimaginable treasure in the future. Why would you want to grieve the Spirit who sealed you for that day with bad language and hateful words to one another?




Christmas is known as the season of giving. We give each other gifts, hopefully, for the Christian, as a remembrance of the great gift that God gave us in sending his Son Jesus Christ as a babe.


We remember what Jesus gave up—his heavenly glory to become a man—in order to give himself for mankind on the cross. 


Salvation itself is a grace-gift to us, as we were reminded earlier in Ephesians:


8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)


So what should we give our Lord who gave so much for us? Let’s wear the clothes of gracious speech and give the gift to gracious speech to those around us. So that when they hear us, they will be hearing Christ.

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