Ephesians 4:17-24 (NIV)
“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. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
How many of us would come in all smelly and dirty, take a shower, and put on our dirty clothes again? That would not make sense. In this passage, Paul speaks to the Ephesians. He instructs them to lay aside their old self, be renewed, and put on the new self. Just as someone who would lay aside their dirty clothes, be refreshed by a cleansing shower and put on fresh clean clothes.
We are no longer to live as the world lives in its futile thinking. Paul cautions the Ephesians about darkening their minds with hardening of hearts, lacking in sensitivity and giving themselves over to sensual indulgences. Our modern culture today of mass media and impersonal messaging has numbed us to what God’s word says.
Paul insists that the Ephesians put off their old self—their life filled with deceitful desires and change the attitudes of their minds so that they put on their new self, to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. God’s righteousness is with our relationships with other people and his holiness is our relationship with God.
Living a Godly life is a constant challenge and not an easy task we face as Christians. We may be criticized for the values we intentionally choose to live by. Teaching in a middle school, we had a drug free challenge one year. We encouraged the students and faculty (if they wished) to sign a pledge that they would live drug and alcohol free. I signed the pledge. Three girls came to me after school and said, “Mrs. Nelson, you were the only teacher that signed the pledge.” They seemed quite impressed. I explained that I had chosen to live my life free of alcohol after seeing students affected by alcoholic parents. I do not fault anyone for legally drinking responsibly, it’s just something I value.
One Friday night before school started the school board decided to sponsor a kick-off party for faculty and staff out at someone’s farm. When I heard that a keg was involved, I declined the invitation. Later, I was criticized for not attending and overheard a few whispers of being a “Goody Two Shoes.” Kicking off the school year by celebrating with alcohol didn’t feel right to me.
When we choose to put away our former life, we learn Christ. We renew our mind through studying His word. It means shutting off the TV, social media, less time in the world and meditating in word and prayer. That takes effort. We change in our resentments for forgiveness, our impatience and judgments for patience and acceptance. We scrape away addiction, materialism, depression, racism.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to continue on as God’s children. We are to make intentional choices to live a godly life. Let us take off our grave clothes and live in Him!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us salvation that empowers to live a new life. Direct our footsteps to walk as a new creation in Christ. Amen.
Written by Janece Nelson
Janece and husband, Mike, have been members of Sheridan for eleven years. Janece is a retired mathematics instructor teaching at the middle school and college level. They are blessed with two children and three grandchildren (ages 7-13). Janece finds her greatest joy in spending time with her family and friends. Her passion is writing devotions for patients in hospitals and rehabs she sees every Monday as a Sheridan hospital visitor. As a Teammate, she also mentors girls at Boys Town. Janece credits Faith Builders and Companions in Christ for her spiritual growth.