Summary: Usually because of fuzzy thinking and lack of norms/standards for Christian activity of discernment, people will say, "I can’t tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. What are the unique characteristics that should cause a Christian t
Date: June 1st, 2003
Title: Profile of the New Self
Text: Eph. 4:17-32
Intro: In recent years profiling has become quite common. FBI profilers determine who the likely suspect is in a murder investigation. Racial profiling happens even though it is not supposed to.
Perhaps some of you have taken a personality profile or psychological profile test in the past--possibly for a job, or to qualify for some position. Some of you need to take some more ((see me for a list afterwards; just kidding). I’ve taken a few of these. For example, to apply for one seminary application I had to take the M.M.P.I. Since one cannot cheat on that test, it was given as a take-home. Let me share with you some of the questions which were from the True-False section.
"I’ve always wanted to join a posse"
"Often I feel like everyone is out to get me"
"I love to be stuck with large safety pins"
"My favorite activity is killing cats"
Now from these and other questions (most are not as absurd) the inventory, will come up with a psychological profile of a person’s attitudes and interests. And believe it or not, they’re usually fairly accurate. Hard to stump the computer grading. The resulting profile will then be printed out and list your:
• Strong points
• Weak points
• Personality traits
• Strong interests
• Behavioral patterns
And some tests even clarify what vocations you’d be best in.
But what about the Word of God? What does it say about the profile we are to have? The profile of the new self in Christ in Ephesians 4:17-32 has not been derived by taking fallible standardized psychological preference tests. Rather, it has been inspired from the infallible mind of God, the Creator of all people. What we have before us in these verses is a practical profile of the Christians attitudes and duties.
You may be surprised, as I often am, that many people can’t tell you a good definition of what a Christian is, nor tell you what a Christian is like. Usually because of fuzzy thinking and lack of norms/standards for Christian activity of discernment, people will say, "I can’t tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. What are the unique characteristics that should cause a Christian to be recognizable?
We will examine these verses in two main portions.
I. The Profile Of One Who Is Far From God Is Obvious. (17-19)
A. The first obvious sign of not knowing God is the way a person thinks. (17)
1. Paul says that we are to no longer live as the gentiles do.
a) The phrase that is translated as gentiles is sometimes translated as the “heathen nations” and refers to that group of un-evangelized non-believers.
b) What Paul implies is that there definitely is a radical difference between the lives of Christians and non-Christians; Redeemed and non-redeemed.
2. The life of an unbeliever is then summed up in vss. 18-19.
a) This is the kind of lifestyle that we are not to live.
b) It is one characterized by futility in pursuits of false promises of happiness and fulfillment.
c) It is empty and void, ensnared in false pursuits and dead ends.
3. This life of the unbeliever is where we live!
a) That is the world that we find ourselves in every day.
b) People with hardened hearts who live for one thing and one thing only, not God, but rather, SELF.
4. Everything listed here in these two verses points to the human heart that seeks after fulfillment and pleasure for self.
a) A world where people are God!
b) We make our own rules and serve ourselves and our selfish desires.
5. This does not say that unbelievers do not have brains, but that their ability to understand is darkened or tarnished with futility.
6. Their understanding about God, other humans, moral duty and eternal life is haunted by shadows in the life of unbelief.
7. All of us--at a time (BC) before our conversion-- were separated and alienated from this spiritual life (2:12).
B. This ignorance is due to the hardening of their hearts. (18)
1. The main cause of this essential heathen behavior is ignorance toward the things of God which is an inborn effect of original sin.
a) All people are born ignorant of God’s ways.
b) This is ultimately caused by the hardening of our hearts.
c) Ez. 11:19 describes this as a "heart of stone" that is in the Old Self.
d) Our hearts are petrified.
2. Rom. 1:18-32 is the best commentary of the process.
3. The resulting moral failure is seen in lost sensitivity, unbridled sensuality, and an insatiable hunger for more pleasure.
4. Having lost all sensitivity.