Updated: Sep 16, 2018
Ephesians 4:17-24 So I tell you and encourage you in the Lord's name not to live any longer like other people in the world. Their minds are set on worthless things. They can't understand because they are in the dark. They are excluded from the life that God approves of because of their ignorance and stubbornness. Since they no longer have any sense of shame, they have become promiscuous. They practice every kind of sexual perversion with a constant desire for more. But that is not what you learned from Christ's teachings. You have certainly heard his message and have been taught his ways. The truth is in Jesus. You were taught to change the way you were living. The person you used to be will ruin you through desires that deceive you. However, you were taught to have a new attitude. You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.
In my last message I made a statement:
"WHATEVER YOU PRIORITISE SETS THE DIRECTION FOR YOUR LIFE"
Prioritising our life is an important part of being both effective and productive. People who have no goals, never achieve much because there is no driver in their life. When we talk about priorities it immediately speaks to me of commitment, of loyalty, of faithfulness to a purpose, a person or an objective.
The Apostle Paul when writing to the Christians in Ephesus said in Ephesians 4:17-18
"I encourage you in the Lord's name not to live any longer like other people in the world. Their minds are SET on worthless things . . . . . . . . . . "
God's word makes a very clear distinction between those who live as non-Christians and those who live as believers, not just adherents but true DISCIPLES of Jesus Christ. When I look at our society today and the culture which is promulgated as acceptable behaviour I notice a huge disparity between the character of the world and what the Bible teaches should be the "character of believers in Jesus Christ" Everyone of us is on a journey of development, and the speed of that development is determined by our willingness to SET PRIORITIES to grow in Christlike character.
“GOD MADE ME LITTLE, AND I GROWED THE REST OF MYSELF.”
I recently read in a devotional the following conversation between a teacher and her pupil.
A Teacher asked a little girl “Who made you?” The young girls response: “God made part of me”. The teacher then inquired “What do you mean?” to which the girl replied, “God made me little, and I growed the rest of myself.”
God has given us everything we need to grow, just as our little girl was fully formed, we also have been fully formed in Christ, but we have an important part to play in growing up to be a mature Christian.
When we come to Christ Jesus we are born again as spiritual babies. 1 Peter 2:2-3 tells us “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. The Apostle Peter also encourages us in 2 Peter 3:18 to “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
In verses 17-19 of our text in Ephesians 4 the Apostle Paul sets out what the mindset of the world is. He tells us that the non-believer;
Walks in futility - living in ineffectiveness and vanity
Is alienated from the life of God
has ignorance in their lives
Blindness of heart
They are beyond feeling - that is they are unable to have proper emotions, they are hard hearted and apethetic
Given to vulgarity, courseness and profanity
They live unclean, impure lives
Are self indulgent, greedy
We live in a society that is increasingly without direction, without conscience or morality, without direction or loyalty to a purpose. Ungodly or worldly people live and act this way because they know nothing better, but for the believer in Jesus Christ, they have been taught differently.
Ephesians 4:20-24 But that is not what you learned from Christ's teachings. 22 You were taught to change the way you were living. The person you used to be will ruin you through desires that deceive you. 23 However, you were taught to have a new attitude. 24 You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.
IT'S TIME TO PUT ON THE NEW MAN
Part of our responsibility as a believer is to continuously review, assess, and appraise how we live in the light of scripture. to position ourselves to learn God's way. 2 Corinthians 5:14 says 'Christ's love compels us; He (Jesus) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.'
Verse 22 of our text tells us to "PUT OFF our former conduct (behaviour), the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts.'
Paul goes on to tell us in V23-24 'be renewed in the spirit of your mind and PUT ON the NEW MAN which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.'
This is the work of every believer. - to change the way we behave and replace negative corrupt behaviour with positive, godly behaviour. Paul then sets out behaviours of the NEW MAN.
PUTTING ON the NEW MAN (the Character of Christ) is a choice we make, as we desire to walk in the new life that is ours through Jesus Christ.
V25 - Put On Honesty and Integrity. 'Speak truth with his neighbour' That means doing away with even the 'little white lie'. It is easy to be trapped by the devil into saying something that is not quite right to vindicate or protect ourselves from embarrassment or so as not to offend. We are better to remain silent than 'bend the truth'.
V26 - Put On Gentleness, Mercy, and Forgiveness. If you get angry, don't let it lead you into sin through doing the wrong thing or being offensive with our words, by holding hatred or wrongful thoughts in our heart.
V27 - Put On Wisdom and Discernment - Don't give place to the devil - don't give him an opportunity to deceive you. The devil is always looking for a foothold, always looking for a way to gain mastery over an area of your life. James 4:7 says 'submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.' He has no power or authority over the believer unless we yield it to him. He watches his victim, acquaints himself with his/her weaknesses, his temper, appetites and inclinations; then constructs his assault accordingly.
v28 - Put On Trustworthiness and Loyalty. Have a good work ethic so you can bless others.
V29 - PUT ON Graciousness and Encouragement. Be conscious of your language (not just swear words), be aware of what you say and how you say it. Let how you speak be a reflection of God's grace, speak with words of encouragement, comments that build up.
V30 - Become SPIRIT AWARE, be God conscious, so that we do not do or say anything that will be an offence to the Holy Spirit. God is holy and does not abide with unrighteousness.
IT'S TIME TO PUT ON THE NEW MAN - to build and strengthen by God's word and His Holy Spirit the life God has given us in Jesus Christ. Romans 6:13 says 'Yield your life as an instrument of righteousness to God , for sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are no longer under law but under grace.'
It is a day by day journey, building the character of Christ into our lives through the word of God, creating godly habits, stripping off the old nature and its habits and renewing our though processes through the application of God's word to align ourselves with the character of God.
The NEW MAN is one directed by God's righteousness
The NEW MAN has his/her priorities fixed in seeking God
The NEW MAN is one who has an active desire to live pleasing God - Living with holy purpose.
Ephesians 5:1 'Be imitators of God as dear children, walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.'