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Summary: Put on the new self by getting your mind right with God.

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An article appearing in the August 11, 2007 edition of World Magazine entitled, “Sex and the evangelical teen” suggests evangelical teenagers on the whole may be more sexually immoral than non-Christians.

“Christian parents and churches need to face up to a problem long hidden in the dark: Evangelical teenagers are just as sexually active as their non-Christian friends.

“In fact, there is evidence that evangelical teenagers on the whole may be more sexually immoral than non-Christians. Statistically, evangelical teens tend to have sex first at a younger age, 16.3, compared to liberal Protestants, who tend to lose their virginity at 16.7. And young evangelicals are far more likely to have had three or more sexual partners (13.7 percent) than non-evangelicals (8.9 percent).

“What about abstinence pledges? Those work—for a while—delaying sex on an average of about 18 months, with 88 percent of pledgers eventually giving up their vow to remain virgins until marriage.

“These are the findings of sociologist Mark Regnerus, himself a Christian, published in his new book Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

“It isn’t that evangelical teenagers do not know any better. Some 80 percent of teenagers who say they have been ‘born again’ agree that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong. Still, as many as two-thirds of them violate their own beliefs in their actual behavior.”

Gene Edward Veith , http://www.worldmag.com/articles/13208

Sad and astonishing isn’t it? Knowing right from wrong two-thirds actively choose wrong.

Don’t think that I’m just picking on teenage Christians this morning. There’s also a disconnection between the beliefs and behaviors of adult Christians. Christians in America are looking less and less distinct. Although their theology and politics may be different, believers are looking a lot like nonbelievers. Take for example divorce.

“…when evangelicals and non-evangelical born again Christians are combined into an aggregate class of born again adults, their divorce figure is statistically identical to that of non-born again adults: 32% versus 33%, respectively.”

http://barna.org/barna-update/article/15-familykids/42-new-marriage-and-divorce-statistics-released

Last week we turned a corner in our study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. After spending three chapters describing the wonderful things God has done for us and given us through Christ, Paul gets practical and urges us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (4:1). The first step in living out one’s salvation involves radical commitment to the church: we’re to love and serve one another even when we disappoint and hurt one another. Just as we’re to be radically committed to the body of Christ, Paul exhorts believers to be radically distinct from nonbelievers. We’re to be separate from them behaviorally, not socially. As you’ll see in a moment, a big part of living a life worthy of the calling you have received means a distinctive countercultural way of life.

Guidelines for Going Countercultural

Keep in mind that this is not an option. This is an essential means for living out your faith. Radical distinctiveness will shape you spiritually, influence a skeptical, watching world, lead to the life you’ve always wanted – the one God wants to give you – and ultimately bring honor to the Lord. The first guideline is a life long commitment:

Resist conformity to the culture

Before we read verse 17, remember that the Ephesians were Gentile Christians. They lived in one of the largest most influential cities of ancient Asia Minor.

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. Ephesians 4:17

Why would Paul give them this command? The most reasonable explanation is that some of the Christians were living like Gentiles. Rather than demonstrate the distinctives of the Christian life they were blending in. “Paul describes the majority of the inhabitants of the Greco-Roman empire … as aiming with silly methods at meaningless goals” and some of the Christians followed the same futile pattern. (He’ll describe how they were living momentarily.)

Paul tells them and us in no uncertain terms that God’s call to salvation and personal life mission involves the rejection of godless cultural norms. Some things that our neighbors take for granted as normal, healthy, and okay we must resist as followers of Christ. You cannot be a cultural chameleon and live a life worthy of God’s call. You’ve got to see yourself more as a cultural cardinal: bright red; pointy head; black masked eyes. When you see a cardinal there’s no question about the kind of bird you’re looking at. They’re distinctive. I can’t see how they conform to natural selection because they certainly don’t blend in. Christians should be just as identifiable and it shouldn’t take a Pro-life bumper sticker or snazzy Christian t-shirt to get it done.

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