"But speaking the truth (margin, being sincere) in love." Ephesians 4:15
Sincerity lies at the root of all gracious profession. If a man is not sincere he is nothing. God makes a man sincere by planting his truth in his heart; and whenever God does make a man sincere, the truth which he has implanted will grow. Truth does not lie in a man"s soul dead and motionless, like a stone in the street; it is a living, active, expansive principle. If the truth is in the soul, it will be ever pushing out error, because the two principles cannot exist together; and as Isaac thrust out Ishmael, and Jacob proved stronger than Esau, so will simplicity and godly sincerity be ever mightier than craft and deception.
The truth of God in the heart will not wither and die, but will be shined upon by the Sun of righteousness, and sunned into fruitfulness by the smiles of God; and as truth becomes day by day more and more precious, so will error and evil become day by day more and more hateful. A sincere soul stands "girt about with truth;" and truth forms its shield and shield.
But how does this Christian sincerity prove the soul"s safeguard from error? By putting it ever on the watch tower, looking out and looking up for the teaching of God and the light of his countenance. A soul made spiritually sincere takes nothing upon trust; it requires the seal of God on all it receives, and the witness of the Spirit to all that it feels. He who is sincere sees the rocks ahead on which others concerning faith make shipwreck; and being well ballasted with temptations, afflictions, and trials, he is not easily tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. His desire to be right keeps him right; his fear to be wrong preserves him from wrong. The light of God in his soul makes him see; the life of God in his heart makes him feel; the fear of God in his conscience makes him honest; the love of God in his affections makes him love; and all this gives truth such a firm place in him that there is no room for error.
The Apostle adds, therefore, "in love." It is not enough to be "sincere;" we must be "sincere in love." Mark that. It is not receiving God"s truth as a certain orderly system; it is not furnishing our heads with a sound doctrinal creed and well-ordered Calvinistic scheme which will avail us in the trying hour; but it is to have the truth of God brought into our soul by a divine power, and realizing such unutterable sweetness in it as communicates a firm abiding love, both to the truth itself, and to Him of whom it testifies and from whom it comes. It is thus we are made "sincere in love."
The fear of God creates the sincerity, the application of the truth with power creates the love to it. And when we are thus made "sincere in love" we are brought out of the childish state in which we are carried about with every wind of doctrine, and in danger of being entrapped by the cunning craft of every deceiver. We know the truth, love the truth, and become established in the truth.
"As the truth is in Jesus." Ephesians 4:21
Without truth there is no regeneration; for it is by "the word of truth" that we are begotten and born again ( James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). Without truth there is no justification; for we are justified by faith, which faith consists in crediting God"s truth, and so gives peace with God. Without the truth there is no sanctification; for the Lord himself says, "Sanctify them through your truth—your word is truth." And without the truth there is no salvation; for "God has chosen us to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
And as the truth is the instrumental cause of all these blessings, the divinely-appointed means whereby they become manifested mercies, so truth enters into and is received by all the graces of the Spirit as they come forth into living exercise. Thus, without the truth, there is no FAITH for the work of faith is to believe the truth. What is all the difference between faith and delusion? That faith believes God"s truth, and delusion credits Satan"s lies. "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
Without truth there is no HOPE for the province of hope is to anchor in the truth. "That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil." The two immutable things in which hope anchors are God"s word and God"s truth; in other words, the pledged veracity and faithfulness of him who cannot lie. This made holy David say, "I have hoped in your word." Those who go down to the pit," said good king Hezekiah, "cannot hope for your truth." No; it is "the living, the living who praise you as I do this day." And it is "through patience and comfort of the Scriptures," that Isaiah, the consolation which the truth of God revealed in the Scriptures affords, "that we have hope."
Without truth there is no LOVE, for it is by "the love of the truth" that the saved are distinguished from the lost. "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved." And it is only as we speak "the truth in love that we grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." Thus "the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth;" and this in the Person of the Son of God, for "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Ephesians 4". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany