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Monday, 20 October 2014

Ephesians 5:6-7

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

Empty words. Void. Dull. Worthless. Words without the ability to give life. The word for 'deceived' here is a kind of soft-spoken persuasion, drawn in by a silver-tongue, seduced by sugar-coated words which promise what they cannot deliver. The writer of Hebrews uses this same word to speak of sin: do not allow the deceitfulness of sin to hoodwink you. (3:13) Be on your guard against what seems harmless but is, in fact, deadly. This is not simply the danger of falling into sin but of listening to untruth, of being gnawed at by false accusation, of succumbing to a sense of worthlessness instigated by meaningless comparison, a kind of Psalm 73 style questioning about other people's successes and our apparent failure. Paul's cry is insistent: do not be deceived. (Colossians 2:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:10). Do not surround yourself with lies and unhelpful influences; instead gird yourself with truth. (Eph 6:14) Buckle it round your belly. Stick it on your mirror. Stamp it on your forehead. Imprint it into your brain. We are those we live in the world. Paul is not suggesting monastic isolation but his pastoral concern is for a kind of tainting, selling short conformity that robs us of our distinction. Empty words end only in emptiness. Darkened thinking ends in dark places. We, on the other hand, speak words bursting with fullness, all the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Our words lead others in the opposite direction to those of the deceiver: The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. (Proverbs 13:14)

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