Summary: If we are in Christ, we need to leave our old life behind us and embrace new life.
Living in Christ Part 1: Off With the Old and On With the New
Text: Eph. 4:17-24
1. Illustration: A good set of clothes make all the difference. A Methodist church tried to get a man to attend, but he never did. "Why don’t you come?" the minister asked, and the man finally admitted it was because he didn’t have proper clothes. So a member of the congregation took him to a clothing store and got him a nice suit, shirt, tie, and shoes. But on the following Sunday, he still did not show up. So the minister visited him again and asked him why he didn’t come. "When I got dressed up in my new suit," the man explained, "I looked so good I decided to go to the Episcopal church."
2. According to Paul, we need to take off our old clothes and put on new ones. He tells us to:
a. Walk differently
b. Put off our old clothes
c. Put on our new clothes
3. Read Eph. 4:17-24
Proposition: If we are in Christ, we need to leave our old life behind us and embrace new life.
Transition: Paul tells us to...
I. Walk Differently (17-19)
A. Live No Longer, As the Gentiles Do
1. Paul begins this section with "With the Lord’s authority I say this..."
a. The NIV renders it "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord..."
b. Literally, it is "I testify" or "I declare." In contexts like this it has the connotation "urge."
c. "In the Lord" adds authority to his appeal and virtually suggests his teaching comes from the Lord (Snodgrass, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Ephesians, 229).
d. Another reason why I love the NLT, because it simplifies the text and makes it clearer.
e. What he is really saying is "I insist upon it because the Lord insists upon it.
f. It is not merely my words, but they are God’s words.
2. What Paul is getting at is this "Live no longer as the Gentiles do..."
a. 1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
b. Why would you go back to the useless way of life that you had before Christ?
c. If He has called you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light, why would you choose to go back to the darkness?
d. Don’t go back to that; leave it behind you.
3. Then he lists reasons why they shouldn’t go back. First, he says "for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds..."
a. Paul’s primary concern is not with a list of specific sins, but with a distortion and disorientation of the mind ( Snodgrass, 229).
b. As my Dad used to say "they’re not wrapped too tight!"
c. This describes the unfortunate state of the unbelievers surrounding this core of believers in the church.
d. The unbelievers had closed minds that were full of darkness, while the believers had found the light of Christ and were given his wisdom. (Life Application New Testament Commentary).
e. Contrary to popular opinion, others do not close your mind for you. You choose to close it yourself. You do have a choice.
4. Then he adds to this "...and hardened their hearts against him."
a. We associate thought and memory with the brain today, but in the idiom of the Bible, thinking is a function of the heart (Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. 2000, c1998. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (electronic ed.), InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL).
b. However, in most cases, when the Bible talks about the heart it is referring to the emotions and will.
c. The heart not only feels, but it also decides a course of action.
d. Again, they had a choice, but they chose the wrong one.
5. Paul adds a third reason, "They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity."
a. Choosing to go astray from God eventually takes its toll on a person. Just like smoking or over eating will eventually take its toll.
b. You see, guilt is a God installed warning system. It tells us that we did something that was not only wrong, but not good for us.
c. However, when we choose to ignore it, we eventually become numb to it.
d. 1 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)
Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.