Today’s Reading: Ephesians 4:17-32
Any time we make a major change in life, we are going to find ourselves comparing the old to the new. Look back and consider when you first got married or when you had your first child, when you started a new job or moved to a new community, when you lost a loved one or graduated from school. There are many times in our life when things shift and major changes take place. We made this same change when we turned our lives over to God and allowed Jesus to take residence in our hearts through His Spirit.
In the last three chapters of Ephesians, Paul does a lot of comparing of the old way of life to the new life in Christ. Yesterday we looked at Ephesians 4:14-15, which compares how we used to live with what we are growing to become:
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. – Ephesians 4:14-15
Life is full of changes and each change has a purpose in our life. God uses each new situation to draw us closer to Him and to form us into the person He created us to be. His plan is not for us to continue in the old way of sin but to live a holy life.
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, 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 and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
But that isn’t what you learned from Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy. – Ephesians 4:17-24
I like how The Message restates the last couple verses of this passage: everything—and I do mean everything – connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
God’s character is reproduced in us – I love that! Paul goes on to compare the old person with the new person, the old sinful nature with the life renewed by the Spirit with God’s character reproduced in us. He shows the change that occurs in our life when we STOP living for our own purposes and START following his good and pleasing and perfect will for our life.
The first time I read these differences, I read quickly, for this passage was very familiar to me. Then I went back and slowly took stock of every change. Praise God for the change He has made in my life. I thank Him for making me a new person yet I admit I sometimes allow myself to fall into some of the old and familiar patterns of this world – forgive me, Lord! Let your Spirit do a work in my heart, continuing to renew me and transform me into a new person for the sake of your plan for my life.
Let’s look at the comparison of the old sinful nature and the new life where our thoughts and attitudes are renewed by the Spirit (Eph. 4:25-32):
Old – Telling lies.
New – Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
Old – Letting anger control us.
New – Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Old – Stealing.
New – Use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.
(When you look at the new it puts a new definition on the old – don’t think of stealing the same but consider the possibility that we are stealing from God when we choose to not live generously with our time and money when there are those in need around us.)
Old – The use of foul and abusive language.
New – Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Old – Bringing sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.
New – Remember, He has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Old – A life where there are even moments of bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
New – Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2