Summary: Paul called the Ephesians to put off the old and put on the new. He is calling us to live by the new standard of Christ.
Intro: We learned early on of the riches we have in Jesus. We are adopted and sealed as sons. No one can take away our inheritance because God sealed it with His precious Holy Spirit. We have every heavenly blessing in Christ. We are now continuing to learn about our responsibilities in Christ which began with maintaining the unity of the Body in the bond of peace. Although we are all different our one aim is to be united in the truth and person of Jesus.
Before we look at the responsibility of living Godly life we are going to see who is commanding and challenging us and our lifestyles. We are hearing from the apostle Paul. However before He was the apostle Paul he was the Pharisee Saul. He was a man who hated Jesus and His followers. In Acts 8 and 9 we find him taking followers of Jesus to court, prison and ultimately death. He hated Jesus’ teachings and people.
We come to Ephesians 4 and Saul is now Paul who met Jesus on the road to Damascus. He has been radically transformed. On his journey of being purged of his pride and prejudice he is teaching the Ephesian Christians about godly life in Jesus. Jesus’ Holy Spirit has and is changing from hostile to humble, from murderer to minister, from killing disciples to loving and teaching them.
Understanding Paul’s radical transformation by encountering the resurrected Jesus Christ, we can better accept and apply his teaching on putting off the old and putting on the new life. Paul is going to show us what changes should take place if we have encountered the resurrected Jesus and by faith have turned control of our lives over to Him.
This however, isn’t simply about dry rules and responsibilities. If we ignore this putting off of the old and putting on the new we open ourselves to small relational problems that tear congregations apart and make us useless for the kingdom of God.
Paul’s command to live a holy life is an echo of Jesus command to love one another. We also see again a principle from the first week of this study: When God reveals His desire for our life it only becomes a reality when we abandon our own desires in exchange for His.
I. Believers are to abandon an immoral ungodly life.
A. Confusion in their minds (futility) (1:17)
The word translated futility is a word that was used by Hebrew people to speak of pagan idols. It is very similar to the word in Ecclesiastes vanity. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:2 vanity, vanity all is vanity. The word really means empty, empty all is empty. It means devoting your life to something that is temporary. The idols the Israelites worshipped were empty and powerless.
This is the illusion that living a life of sin and self-absorption can bring satisfaction. Some of your have tried. When you try to satisfy your longing with temporary things you get temporary satisfaction. Sex, you need more, food, you need more, drugs, you need more, power, you need more, money, you need more. It takes eternity and infinity to fill the human heart. The search for satisfaction of the heart, the mind, will, emotions and desires is futile if you look anywhere other than God. Setting your mind on physical and temporary things leads to darkness which brings confusion to your thinking. Imagine child chasing soap bubbles or an adult chasing their shadow.
B. Closed minds (ignorance) 18 a – separated from the life of God
This is an unwillingness to look at truth and acknowledge it. Romans 1:21 and following makes clear that folks know there is a God but don’t acknowledge and accept Him or give thanks to Him. There is a knowledge that there is a creator or a force, or something that caused the universe to be but there is no relationship with God. The word ignorance comes from a Greek word where we get agnostic. It means without knowledge. Those that celebrate being agnostic are really saying they are without knowledge of God.
The real issue isn’t a problem of the intellect it is a willful rejection of God. You can ask if I answer the questions or problems you have with the Bible or God would you follow Jesus. Usually the answer is no.
C. Corrupted lives Ephesians 4:19
What you see at this point is a turning of a person’s allegiance over to good feelings and strong urges that are ungodly and immoral. Instead of controlling the desires the desires become the only direction.
We see this in our culture and our churches. Closing our minds to God’s standard found in Christ and having the mentality that all things are lawful but ignoring the fact that not all things are profitable. We see it in people taking the freedom to abortion, adultery, premarital sex, lying, cheating, stealing, gossip, gluttony, addiction, abuse etc.