LifeWay Explore the Bible Series for April 28
Practical insight for righteous and holy living
___ Ephesians 4:17-32
___By Roy Cotton
___BGCT DFW/Metroplex Church Starting Center Consultant
___The chorus of an old spiritual goes: "I looked at my hands, they looked new; I looked at my feet, and they did too. I started to walk, I had a new walk; I started to talk, and I had a new talk."
___Paul gives to the church practical insights for righteous and holy living in Ephesians 4:17-32. This passage contains God's expectation of righteous and holy living for his new people.
___Forsake old standards
___The first outline is a contrast between the life of those who are in Christ and those who are not (vv. 17-19). Paul uses "Gentile" for heathens, pagans and unbelievers living by the standards of this world. The New Living Translation is "Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused" (v. 17). The ungodly walk in the "futility of their mind" the New American Standard says. The implication of this phrase is that without Christ, life is worthless and empty in contrast to the fullness of the future that we have in Christ.
___Paul states the reason for the futility of mind is that sin darkens our understanding and separates us "from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts" (v. 18). Sin affects the heart (mi
nd) with callousness and petrifying of our feelings. Sin takes away the power of feeling from the heart of a person.?
___Once people have "lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (v. 19). The Bible gives a detailed picture of this downward spiral and the affects of sin in Romans 1:24-32.
___Embrace Christ's standard
___Verses 20-24 are a contrast to the previous verses. Paul distinguishes righteous, holy living with the conjunctive phrase: "But you did not learn Christ in this way" (v. 20). Disciples are learners. We not only learn about Christ, but we learn Christ. The more we learn about him the more we desire to become like him. No one can live the Christian life in human effort. Christ is our standard.
___Verse 21 is the only verse in this chapter that mentions the name "Jesus." Perhaps Paul wanted to make sure the Ephesians knew the supreme standard of the Christian life was Jesus. He is one of whom they had heard and were taught. It is also likely that Paul felt it important for the church to embrace the fact that "truth" is only "in Jesus."
___"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life" (v. 22). The old life was described in verses 17-19. Now that we have "put off the old self" (v. 22), we must put it aside like an old worn-out garment. This comes about by a change "in the attitude of your minds" (v. 22). These verses declare the differences in the "thinking" of the person without Christ (vv. 17-19) and the person who is in Christ. In Christ, one is "to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (v. 24).
___The word of God transforms the believer. That is why it is important for the church to embrace discipleship and evangelism. As a baby must be provided food, protection and everything possible for growth and maturity, new believers must be taught (fed) the word of God. Discipleship is a process of becoming more like Jesus.
___Certain behaviors from the old self must be corrected. First, we "must put off falsehood and speak truthfully" (v. 25). Paul says the reason for this is that "we are members of one another." Since the church is the body of Christ, we must "speak the truth in love" (v. 15).
___Christians must beware of the damaging and harmful affects of anger. "In your anger do not sin" (v. 26). We should settle disagreements quickly so that we "do not give the devil a foothold" (v. 27). Anger, wrath and malice have been used of the devil to destroy many churches.
___The church must teach to the thief to use one's "hands for honest work and then give generously to others in need" (v. 28). Notice the Scripture does not suggest that work is for taking care of one's needs but for giving to others in need.
___We must not "grieve the Holy Spirit" (v. 30). The Holy Spirit empowers the Christian to live righteously in Christ. He is the Third Person of the Godhead.
___We are given a summary of things we must "put off" from the old self: "bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (v. 31).
___And a short reminder of things we are to "put on": Kindness, compassion and forgiveness "just as in Christ God forgave you" (v. 32).
___Wiersbe states: "The fire of anger, if not quenched by loving forgiveness, will spread and defile and destroy the work of God."
___When the church sings "What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, since Jesus came into my heart," the world will never know it if our lives do not show it. Does your life reflect Christ? There's a lost world watching.
___Questions for discussion
___ Is there such a thing as good anger verses bad anger? What's the difference?
___ What are some suggestions for anger management?
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