Ephesians

Ephesians 4:17-30 New Life-New Lifestyle

Our new Life in Christ (ch 1-3) leads to a new Lifestyle (ch 4-6) called the Christian WALK (2:8,9). Living the right life begins in our beliefs and attitudes. Correct practice flows out of correct doctrine. That is why Paul has laid the foundation of grace in the first 3 chapters. Now he goes on to how to live in light of what God has done, expressing in life what God has done in us. The key word is WALK. We are to walk WORTHY of our calling in Christ (4:1). As members of His Body we must (1) WALK in UNITY (v1-16). Now he tells us we must also (2) WALK in HOLINESS (v17-30). (Verses 1 and 17 are parallel).

v17: “This I say, therefore (because you are now part of the New Creation) and testify in the Lord (in His Name and authority), that you should no longer WALK as the rest of the Gentiles WALK (don’t be conformed to the world’s lifestyle, or live according to its norms). 

There is a reason why the unsaved live the way they do: “(They walk) in the futility (emptiness, vacuum, aimlessness)of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them - because of the blindness (hardness) of their heart, who, being past feeling (calloused in conscience), have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (v17-19). 

Here Paul describes the unsaved Gentile world as in Rom1:18-30 where he shows how their rejection of God (hardness of heart) works itself out first in in false beliefs about God and idolatry (darkness in the mind) and then immorality (of lifestyle). You WALK according to what you THINK and BELIEVE which is determined by the decision of your heart to follow and worship God or go your own way. The process is also seen in society. When God and His truth is rejected false philosophies and religions come in to fill the gap resulting in growing immorality in the nation. Here Paul describes the same downward path: (1) Their hardness (‘porosis’ - as in a bony formation on the joints) of heart (deliberate rejection of God), results in (2) a state of mind described as empty, dark, dead, and ignorant. It is this that results in (3) an unrestrained selfish lifestyle as they try and fill the God-shaped hole within. 

Paul starts by explaining their lifestyle as the result of the spiritual vacuum in their minds caused by the absence of the Truth (Word) of God (‘ignorance’) and the Life of God (‘alienated’). This vacuum is filled with the ‘darkness’ of substitute philosophies and beliefs. Their ‘ignorance’ of God’s Word (especially the Gospel) is the reason they are alienated (cut off) from God’s Life (spiritually dead to God) and their minds are filled instead by darkness. As a result they live with a vacuum inside that sucks in everything around it (a vacuum is desperate to be filled). So they walk without any true purpose or direction in life. The need to fill this empty space leads to a lifestyle of immorality (v19). Because they are spiritually empty they are controlled by and conform to the world around them. 

“But you have not so learned Christ if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him - as the truth is in Jesus” (v20,21). The way the unsaved live is because their rejection of God creates an emptiness within the mind where God’s life and word should reside (the mind is formless, void and dark as in Genesis 1:2). But Christians should not live like them because they have a believing heart, resulting in their spirit becoming a new creation, joining them to God’s life, so they can now understand God’s Word. Our minds must now be filled with God’s Word, leading to a new WALK of purpose. We WALK according to our THINKING. We must fill the vacuum in the mind with the Word or it will suck all the rubbish in and we’ll live by that.

So, the First Key to Living the New Lifestyle is RENEWING the MIND: “But you have not so learned Christ (He is the subject of the teaching, it is the word about Jesus Christ), if indeed you have heard Him (He is also the Teacher),and have been taught (about life) in Him (the teaching being ‘in Him’ means that it is both in the atmosphere of His Presence and that we learn about our new position and life that is in Him. We learn who we are in Him and how we should live in Him) - as the truth is in Jesus (this true way of living is modelled & taught by Jesus in the Gospels)”(v20,21). Therefore Christians should no longer walk like the world because they have the Word.

This Teaching of our New Life In Christ tells us: “that you (have) PUT OFF, concerning your former conduct, the OLD MAN - which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,and that you (have) PUT ON the NEW MAN - which was created according to God (in His likeness), in true righteousness and holiness” (v22-24, see Col 3:8-10).

The teaching is designed to produce an outer change of ‘conduct’(see verse 25 on). It tells us to continually receive the renewing of the mind (passive tense - you let the Word of God do it) to what has already happened in the New Birth, namely that the Old Man (spirit) has been put off and has been replaced by the New Man. 
The knowledge that renews our mind is that of this exchange of spirit in the New Birth, that we have put off the Old Man (spirit) and put on the new Man (the new recreated spirit). The aorist tense for ‘put off’ and ‘put on’ signifies a completed decisive action in the past (this is the positional truth of who we are in Christ).

Once the mind knows this exchange has happened then it can start thinking according to the new spirit. ‘Renewal’ means ‘exchange’. The mind has been used to operating according to the old spirit and would tend to continue in that old groove unless it has an exchange of spirit. By receiving this teaching the mind becomes aware of our new spirit and who we are now in Christ and so is able to 
start thinking according to (in line with) our new spirit. Thus the teaching brings about a change in the mind corresponding to the change that has already happened in the spirit (Eph 2:1-10). This exchange in the spirit of our mind so that our mind is agreeing with our spirit (our thoughts about ourselves agreeing with the realities in our spirit) allows God’s life in our spirit to flow out and be expressed in our lives. This renewal of our mind to who we really are (adjusting to the fact that we are now a New-Man) is necessary to a changed life as we show forth in our actions our new Christ-like nature (Rom 12:1-3).

The Old and New Man described and compared (v22,24). They are contrasted to give us extra motivation to live the new life. The old was growing ‘corrupt’  (degeneration), the new ‘was created after the likeness of God!’ (it is fresh and new). The old is dominated by ‘deceitful lusts.’ The new is created ‘in true righteousness (before men)and holiness (before God)’. You are a fresh New Creation, the Righteousness of God. The New Man is ‘after God’, designed in the image of God, with His life, nature, and holiness! 

The teaching of Christ is: (1) The Old Man (spirit) has been put off and the Christ-like New Man has been put on (this is an accomplished fact).

(2) Our minds must be renewed (changed) by receiving the word of this change of spirit. Our thinking must be changed to line up with our spirit. Thus we ‘put off’ the thoughts, attitudes and motives belonging to the Old Man and ‘put on’ the thoughts of the New Man. It is not enough to ‘put off’ the old (you can’t live in a vacuum), you must ‘put on’ the new (replace the old patterns of thought with the new). If you don’t fill the mind with the Word it will suck in bad thoughts however hard you try to put them off.

(3) Then the teaching goes on to show how we complete this process of transformation by acting on this revelation in the specific issues of life (v25-30, compare Rom 12:1-3). Having renewed our mind to who we are in spirit we can now live accordingly. We can live righteous and holy because in Christ, in the new creation, we are righteous and holy.“You are not like the world, they live the way they do because thats their nature but you have received a new nature, you are a new man on the inside so live like it!”

NEW LIFE - NEW LIFESTYLE”

Is Christianity a way to life or a way of life? BOTH. First, it is the way to life (through justification). Secondly, it is the way of life (sanctification). The Christian life (walk) is the subject of Ephesians 4:1-6:9 which describes the radical transformation of lifestyle that results from receiving new life in Christ. However this requires the renewing of our minds through the teaching of the Word of God:

“You have been taught by Jesus that (1) you (have) PUT OFF concerning your former conduct, the OLD MAN which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and (2) be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and (1) that you (have) PUT ON the NEW MAN which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (v22-24). 

Colossians 3:9,10 is a parallel passage: “Do not lie to one another, since you have PUT OFF the OLD MAN with his deeds and have PUT ON the NEW MAN who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” This confirms that ‘you put off the Old Man’ and ‘you put on the New Man’ is not a new command but an accomplished fact.

The teaching of Jesus Christ concerning the transformation of our life and lifestyle is:

(1) When we received Christ as our Lord and Saviour our Old Man (spirit) was put off and the Christ-like New Man was put on by the New Birth (this New Life through the transformation of our spirit is an accomplished fact). Our faith in Christ includes a repentance from living our own way (the former conduct and deeds of the Old Man) to following Christ as Lord (New Lifestyle).

(2) Our minds must now be constantly renewed (changed) by receiving the word of this transformation of spirit. Our thinking must be changed to line up with the new spiritual reality (truth). Thus we exchange the thoughts, attitudes and motives belonging to the Old Man for those of the New Man. It is not enough to ‘put off’ the old thoughts (we can’t live in a vacuum), we must also ‘put on’ the new (replacing the old patterns of thought with the new). For, if we don’t fill the mind with the Word of Christ, it will suck in bad thoughts, however hard we try to put them off. Renewing our mind to who we are in spirit is essential to a changed lifestyle. God transforms from within, so Paul first renews our mind to what God has done within and then tells us to live worthy of it. The only way to please God in a life of true holiness is by having a mind renewed to the truth and then living it by faith from our spirit.

(3) This process of transformation (sanctification) is only completed as we ACT upon the Word in the specific issues of life, by putting off the old habits and actions and putting on the lifestyle of the New Man. The transformation happens first in our mind (ATTITUDES) but it must not stop there - it must reach our ACTIONS also. We are not fully dressed until it reaches our BEHAVIOUR. Thus Paul now goes on to command this (Eph 4:25-32, compare Romans 12:1-3). We can live righteous and holy because in the new creation, we are righteous and holy. Having renewed our minds to who we are in Christ we must act accordingly by faith.

This is possible because: (1) our spirit has been changed, and (2) our mind is being renewed to who we really are, so that (3) we can now show this forth in our actions. We can change our attitudes and actions when we realise our true inward nature is made new. 

The language of ‘putting off and on’ is that of clothing. We dress according to who we are and the role we have. When we were the ‘Old Man’ we dressed ourselves in his attitudes and lifestyle (corrupted, worn out and decaying clothes), but now we are a New Man. We need to dress appropriately by taking off the Old Man’s clothes (actions) and putting on the New Man’s clothes. ‘Take off pride and clothe yourself in humility’ (1Peter 5:5). When you do this everyone can see the difference. Your outer spiritual clothing (lifestyle) should correspond to the new life of Christ within. We can wear the clothes of the Old Man out of habit, even though they are made new (through ignorance of the change) like a tramp who inherited a mansion and millions but still walked around like a tramp (the truth of his change had not sufficiently impacted his mind). 

What if you got up in your pajamas and did not put them off and went out into the day without putting on your clothes? Likewise many Christians hold onto attitudes (clothes) that belong to the night. We need to put off the old and put on the new. If we don’t do it for our sakes, then we should do it for the sake of others, because we are all members of one body and how we live affects the rest of the body. Thus a major motivation Paul appeals to in v25-32, when he tells us to get dressed in the new clothes, is the effect on others. In other words he appeals to their love (the nature of the New Man).

5 examples are given of this change of lifestyle.  

Each example has the same structure: 
(1) A command to put off the actions that belong to the old Man.
(2) A command to put on the actions of the new Man. 
(3) The motivation (primarily of love for one another) is given for this change of lifestyle, which comes from our mind renewed to who we are in Christ. Notice that as with clothes, it is not enough to just PUT OFF the old. To change a bad habit you must replace it with a good habit. So, if you habitually talk negative, don’t just try and stop it but positively replace it with thanksgiving!

TO CHANGE MOVE IN THE OPPOSITE SPIRIT and ACTIONS!

5 specific examples of PUTTING OFF and PUTTING ON in your actions:
(A) “Therefore (because your mind is renewed to what God has worked within, that you are a life-giving spirit of love, now work it out in your lifestyle in specific ways), 

(1) PUTTING AWAY lying (deception),

(2) Let each one speak truth with his neighbour (PUT on the speaking of TRUTH) 
(3) for we are members (in the Body of Christ) of one another 
(and so we should live as such toward each other)” (v25) 

(B) "(1) Be angry, and do not sin" (PUT off sinful, destructive ANGER, holding onto offenses, nursing them into unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment)

(2) (Instead) do not let the sun go down on your wrath (quickly respond to upsets by PUTTING on FORGIVENESS and use any righteous anger to take action against satan). 

(3) (the reason for this is to) give no place (territory) to the devil” (this will stop the devil taking advantage andgaining a foothold in your life and relationships, causing you to lose the ground you have gained)” (v26,27). 

(C) “(1) Let him who stole steal no longer (PUT off taking things from others) 

(2) but rather (if in need of money) let him labour, working with his hands what is good (PUT ON hard work to replace laziness and sponging on others).

(3) that he may have something to give him who has need” (v28). The main motive to work is love - to give to those in need. The New Man lives to give rather than take. Thus the transformation is completed from a lifestyle of selfish taking to selfless giving.

(D) “(1) Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth (PUT AWAY all destructive, evil speech),

but (2) (speak) what is good for necessary edification (PUT ON speech that builds up, replacing cursing with blessing),

(3) that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Again our motive is love for others, especially those in the body. Our love for God is a further motive: “And do not grieve (hurt) the Holy-Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (v29,30). He lives within us, protecting our spirit until the resurrection of our body, so speak words that please Him, not grieve Him.  

(E) (1) “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be PUT AWAY from you, with all malice (PUT OFF responding in hatred, competition, gossip and strife). 

(2) and be kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate) forgiving one another,

(3) just as God in Christ forgave you” (v31,32). Our motive is what God has done for us.

The key to changing our lifestyle is moving in the opposite spirit and actions to those that belonged to the Old Man. By faith (with a renewed mind convinced by the truth) we can do this because on the inside we are a New Man (a Christ-like spirit), and so we can act accordingly and obey the truth.

1. Replace LYING with TRUTH.
2. Replace ANGER with FORGIVENESS.
3. Replace STEALING with HARD WORK
4. Replace DESTRUCTIVE SPEECH with EDIFYING SPEECH.
5. Replace BITTERNESS, HATRED and STRIFE with KINDNESS and COMPASSION.

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