Summary: How can a Christian walk as the Lord has commanded us?
A Change Is Coming
Text: Ephesians 4:20-24
By: Ken McKinley
If you remember; last time we talked about growing up, today we are going to be talking about the changes that take place when you do. If you’ve ever been a parent then I’m sure you remember when your child first rolled over, it was an exciting thing, but then you moved on to trying to get them to sit up. After sitting up we try to get them to crawl, and before long we are walking around, holding our child’s hands over their head, trying to get them to walk. When school first starts a child is expected to sit quietly while being read to, and then soon enough, they are expected to read themselves. Everything living thing that God has created grows, and as it grows it goes through changes. When we hit puberty voices change, when we hit middle age, metabolism changes, and it continues right up until the time we are no longer living.
But what about things like habits, or behaviors? What about addiction? A person can be addicted to more than just drugs; they might be addicted to food, or immoral behavior. What about those areas? What about emotions, anger, bitterness, fear? What about the other things we do, like gossip, or slander others, or stick our noses into others peoples business? And then we open up God’s Word and we see God commands us to change as well. In-fact; here in our text, demands to change are on nearly every line of this passage.
We are told to put off the old self, be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new man. And we look at this and we probably go, “Yeah, right. It sounds simple enough, but have you ever tired this? It’s impossible.” It’s like telling a drug addict to “Just say no!” It’s not that easy.
Part of our problem is that we try and fail and then we just assume that it’s impossible and we give up. If you’re stuck in that rut, let me say this to you: Change happens TO US not BY US.
Change begins with an exchange.
There are three ways we can look at our text; two of them are wrong. Some people will read this and think to themselves, “Oh I came forward during an alter call, I’m saved, I can go on living however I want, because the change has already occurred in me.” Other people will read this and become overly critical of themselves. They will beat themselves up over it day in and day out and eventually become so frustrated that they give up.
Paul says we are to put off our former conduct, our old self. But if that’s all a person does; if all they do is stop a certain behavior, or get rid of a certain habit then there is trouble ahead. Because Paul not only says we are to put off our old self, but we are to put on the new self who has been created according to God.
In Luke chapter 11 Jesus talked about a man who was delivered from demonic possession, but after a while the demon goes back and finds the man’s life in order, but nothing is occupying his life. So the demon returns with 7 of its buddies that are even nastier than itself.
When MariJo and I were in college we lived in married student housing. When we first moved in the walls had been recently painted. But after awhile the walls in the kitchen began to be discolored. What happened was that the grease from the cooking of former residents was seeping through the paint. Jesus described it this way. He said to the Pharisees that they were white washed tombs, but on the inside they were full of dead man’s bones.
When is a thief not a thief? If you say when he stops stealing, you’re wrong. A thief who is not stealing is just between jobs, but he’s still a thief. When is a liar not a liar? When he stops lying? No; when he consistently tells the truth. So when it comes to change there is not only something that must stop, there has to be something that takes the place of the thing that was stopped.
So our text tells us we have to take off our old self, and put on the new. It’s not just subtraction, it’s an exchange.
Let me give you an idea of how this should be: Lets say that you are going out on a date with your spouse, or bf/gf; and so you go to your closet and pull out one of your favorite shirts. You put the shirt on and start getting ready but all of a sudden you start feeling itchy. So you look down at your shirt and you see that it’s covered with fleas and lice. So what do you do?