Ephesians 4:17-32 – Dr. Todd Gray
Living a new life in Christ is about walking in a manner worthy Of God. Ephesians 4:17-32 teaches us how to live as Christians today. Christian living is like putting on new clothes. When you come to know Christ, you should be able to see the difference.
In Ephesians 4, Pauls asks Christians to stop living as they did before Christ. The whole world was new to the Christianity thing. They lived a life of the world and not they had to turn and live completely differently.
Paul wants them to do away with that stuff that doesn’t honor Christ. Whether it’s from your old life or just the world that you see living today. Turn away from it, put it off and live the new life in Him.
What old ways in your previous life are you still clinging to? It could be addiction, greed, racism, or something that divides you from the Lord. Together, we learn how Paul describes Christian living.
The New Life
When you are saved, you are washed new and put everything on Christ. But now you live a new life. Many put it off saying “I will live the way I am for a season while I find a way to live like Christ one day.” It doesn’t work that way. You don’t know how long you will live to be right with God. You could be gone tomorrow. Today’s the day. If you’re not seeking it now, what makes you think you’re going to seek it later?
Here’s a real reality for many people: you’ll discover at the end of your life that you were never a follower of Christ. You were a Christian in word only. Because it made your mom or your dad happy or because it felt good to go to church.
Your faith has to be more than just raising your hand and saying I’m a Christian. It needs to be evident with how you live.
We tend to believe these misconceptions that prevent us from living like Christ. Misconception one: you have more time. You don’t. Today’s the day. Misconception number two: popular for younger folks, it’s just a phase or a season. We can enjoy a sinful season and get out one day. This is nonsense and it’s sinful.
Search the scriptures this week and you tell me where the Bible affirms that each of us should have a sinful phase in our life. Why would you let your children go through a season without God’s favor because they’re living in sinfulness? It could end them and destroy their lives.
The Condition of the Heart
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking: I’ve hardened my heart towards the Gospel and it’s impossible to live like this. My prayer for you: that your heart will be softened— that you will repent and live the life God intended for you.
The world is full of lies when it comes to how you should live your life. For example, the world has its view on things like marriage and gender. But just because they say it and they become hardened against it doesn’t mean you have to. We should be living and thinking differently from the world.
What happens when you become calloused and your heart becomes hard as a believer? Paul says in verse 19 that when you have a hardened heart you go deeper into sin. Don’t become hardened if you’re losing your emotional sensitivity.
Paul also tells us to avoid dishonesty and pursue truth. Verse twenty-five says to put off falsehood and speak the truth. Jesus frees us from those things, He is truth, and His truth sets us free. If Jesus is the truth and He sets us free and He controls the truth, who do you think controls the lies? The enemy. When you live a life of falsehood, you are in the enemy’s control.
The same goes for living a shady life. A lot of businesses are kind of created around this idea of not telling the whole truth or being dishonest with people. The Bible calls that dishonest gain. As humans, we accept it because it means more money. Dishonest gain is not gain at all. You lose integrity and destroy your representation of Christ as a Christian to those around you. It always ends badly. More importantly, it does not honor God.
If you work for a dishonest company, you are compromising your life in Christ. Find a way to make the bold step and get a better job that does not force you to do things contrary to what Christ wants for you. Paul talks about leaving the old life and letting go of things.
Paul continues in Ephesians and tells us to not be angry and to not sin. Anger isn’t always wrong. There is righteous indignation and sinful anger. What makes it wrong is the action that comes from it and the heart behind it. Did you do something wrong in response to your emotions? Did you have a hateful heart and think destructive things against someone? That is the difference.
Does it mean we can be angry all the time if the heart is right? No. Usually, when we get angry, we sin. That’s why it’s important to live a life like Jesus, practicing patience, love, and mercy. Instead of reacting and responding immediately, stop and make an effort to act as if it were Jesus.
You can be right in feeling righteous indignation about something wicked or even a wrong idea in the world, but you can be wrong in how you respond to it. It’s all about the response and how you make Christ look. It’s not about being right. We speak the truth in love.
Paul also says there needs to be a time stamp on your anger. Put some boundaries on your anger. If you don’t, it manifests into something bigger, absorbed with bitterness. Let the anger go and seek restoration, especially in your relationships.
A Life Honoring God
Paul then says to not let unwholesome words proceed from your mouth. How many times do you say a joke that shouldn’t be said? Or gossip about someone? This is dishonoring to God.
The first step is asking God to help you find victory in the struggle. If you never admit you have a problem, what makes you think you’re going to find victory? I know that people at your work, school, and your everyday environment may be nasty in their speech, cursing, and disrespectful. It doesn’t give you the green light to participate. Have a different standard for yourself and refuse. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
Paul says to avoid all kinds of malice. When you let anger muster, it turns to bitterness and wrath. Wrath means getting back at somebody’s rage and blasphemy.Does this sound like a life that’s good for you? God gave you the spirit at salvation to help you say goodbye to the old and say yes to the new. Renew your mind. Transformation is the goal.
It Starts Today
In the renewing of your mind, add accountability with somebody. Have somebody in your life every week that’s willing to tell you the truth. Should I have said that? No. Did that action align with Christ? No.
You’ve got to pursue something to stay on the course— and for a Christian, that’s Christ. Just spend time with Him and His word. The more time you spend with him, the more you will be like Him. It’s not going to happen by accident. You must pursue Him.