BIG IDEA: Are you living in a manner worthy of your calling as a representative of Jesus Christ? How do we begin to do that?
The book of Ephesians relates God’s plan for creating a new society by his grace and for his glory. It is “…doctrine set to music. Just as [Paul] proclaimed God’s order to the post-Augustine Roman era which was marked by a process of social disintegration, so Ephesians is today the most contemporary book in the Bible, since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in the place of alienation and peace instead of war” (John Mackay, President Princeton Theological Seminary, 1948).
SCRIPTURE to CONSIDER: Ephesians 4:17-24
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (ESV)
- We are representatives of Christ: this is what we’re called to, and it comes with weight.
- How can we live up to this? If you don’t change your ways upon conversion, if you continue to live the way you used to live, you won’t be able to. But if you take hold of the power of Christ provided you upon conversion and begin to live out this new life, then you can.
- John 3:1-16
- The old can be remade by the new.
- There is a difference between believing and being reborn: a new life is required for life with God. The old life cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. You have to be reborn by the Spirit. Many Christians around the world think that they believe but have never experienced the spirit of God being born in them.
- The Old Self vs. The New Self
- The Old Self -Alienation from God:
- A stubbornness that creates darkness leading to a hardness of heart, which leads to death and separation from life with God.
- Callous: reckless with their actions, indulging in sensuality, greed, impurity, etc. They are desensitized to the consequences of their actions to the morality of their behavior.
- The New Self – Alive to God:
- Soft heart
- Full of light
- Careful and sensitive to things in the world and the way that sin separates you from God, and you are trying to walk in a manner worthy of the call.
- The Old Self -Alienation from God:
- Put off the Old Self and put on the New Self.
- This is a continual process. We are always to be putting off the old and putting on the new.
- Do you ever go through your wardrobe and get rid of things because they either no longer fit, you don’t like them anymore, they aren’t representative of who you are, etc? It’s the same idea. We should always be growing, taking off the Old Self as the New Self continues to be realized.
- When you are renewed by the Spirit and believe in Christ as your Lord, you are not miraculously changed into the New Self. No, we live in the already and the not yet, a time when both the Old Self and the New Self exist at the same time. They are at war with each other. That’s why we struggle with old habits, patterns and ways of living. You have to intentionally put these things off.
- As we mature in Christ, the New Self grows stronger and the Old Self dissipates. But we never, on this side of the grave, are able to completely rid ourselves of the old self.
- As you grow more and more into the image of Christ, you will become more aware of your sin.
- The New Self…
- …longs for the fame of Jesus’ name instead of your own.
- …feels the pain of sinning against God.
- …groans against ungodliness.
- …begins to look more and more like Jesus.
- Put off ….
- Falsehood and speak truth
- Sinning in anger. Be angry, but do not sin. Reconcile.
- Stealing and taking and work hard and be generous.
- Gossip and encourage others, giving grace.
- Pretending the Holy Spirit isn’t with you and acknowledge its reality and involvement in your life and the world.
- The New is what lasts. Build it up as much as you can on this side of the grave. That’s your job.