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Ephesians 4:17-32

Living From the New

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • May 08, 2022
  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Living from the New
Ephesians 4:17-32                                 
May 8, 2022

We are now in the second major section of the book of Ephesians. In the first three chapters Paul wrote about the unfathomable riches of Christ. He then changes direction completely and tells us how to live our lives according to the riches we have in Christ.

When God pours spiritual blessings on us, it should have a direct impact on how we live our lives. God puts His unfathomable riches spiritually into your heart and ignites your soul and then He talks about bringing forth what is good in your life.

 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ,” Paul wrote. “The mouth speaks from that which fills the heart,” Jesus said.

The way you live in this world has everything to do with what fills your heart.

I.  Put on the New Self

  • Paul is outlining the behavior and character our Christian walk should reflect.
  • Verse 22 – in reference to your former matter of life, lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit; and then later he says to put on the new self.
  • But notice that it is a process; you have to keep putting off the old and continually put on the new.

Illus. – The first thing people told me about clothes in Hillsboro is to layer. That made me think of a scenario. When we travelled here from SA, our suitcases were weighed to the ounce. We had so many things to bring and so little space. So, I told my family, if we get to the airport and our luggage is overweight, we are going to start some serious layering. So, I put on a few layers to see how far this could go. Have you tried that before? After a while, the next layer just will not fit. First of all, it looks ridiculous, and it is just not comfortable. You need to take off some clothes to be able to put on the new.

  • For new things to come, we need to put off the old and make room for new things.
  • Verse 17 – Do not walk like the Gentiles walk. In the futility of the mind. Paul warns the church in this passage. To walk in the ways of this world is futile. It ends in death. It has no eternal fruit or blessing.
  • Verse 19 – They had become callous. A callous has the effect that you lose sensitivity where the callous is. The skin isn’t tender anymore. Because of a continuous action, a callous is formed. It is the same with sin. Continuous sin creates a callous in the soul. This leads to even more impurity and greed. The circle of death.
  • Verse 20 – But you did not learn Christ this way. This type of living is not the way of Christ. I am almost hearing Paul say, just to be clear: If you think this is the way to live while “following” Christ, you are deeply mistaken. This is not the format. We are called to a higher standard.
  • If a callous has formed, soak in the word until the Spirit of God makes the soul tender again.
  • Verse 23 – be renewed in the spirit of your mind, Paul wrote. That’s the key to putting on the new self.
  • When you came to Christ you came out of the world, but you brought a lot of the world with you. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind; you can’t be transformed and at the same time keep thinking the same old thoughts and living in the same old ways; put off the old thoughts and old ways.
  • Putting on the new self means that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind – but how?

Romans 12:2, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

  • There are many ways that seem ‘right’. What is the compass for your life? What is your true north? The word of God is the final authority on the truth.

A.  The new self was created of truth

  • Verse 24 – the new self was created of the truth in the image of God. That’s a remarkable statement.
  • When you opened your heart to receive Christ, God created the new man; the eternal, forgiven soul that has already inherited the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. God created it; now live your life according to it.

Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

2 Corinthians 5:17, If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

  • When we read these verses it’s easy to get the sense that you should go to God’s closet, take out truth and put it on. No, the new man, created in Christ Jesus, was created in the truth; it’s in the fabric of what God made.
  • Now, therefore, because the new man was created in the righteousness and holiness of the truth, lay aside falsehood and speak the truth.
  • Truth is not just a way to speak, it’s a way to live. You speak the truth because you have a personal relationship with Him who is the truth. You live in integrity.
  • Because you are a new man from the inside out, the old things ‘fall off’ as your mind is renewed, and the truth permeates our being.

Illus. When you take a dry sponge, you can stick a sticker on it. Now fill this sponge with water. No sticker will stick. Even more, when you squeeze the sponge, more water is released and the stickers that tried to stick, will fall off.

  • This is what happens when we hear the truth, live by the truth in personal relationship with Jesus, filled with the Spirit.

B.  Be angry, but do not sin

  • There are several things we can discern from these verses. First, there is anger that is not a sin and there is anger which is sin. Perhaps we could say that there is righteous anger and there is also man’s anger. Anger is also not necessarily sin, but can lead to sin.

James 1:19-20, This you know, my beloved brethren; everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

  • There were times when Jesus Himself became angry, but it was righteous indignation. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves because they were hindering those who had come to worship at the temple.

Matthew 21:13, And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robber’s den.”

  • How do we know if anger is sin? If it’s about you, it’s probably sin; someone hurt your feelings, someone was insensitive, someone said an unkind word and you got angry, that’s not righteous indignation; that’s selfish indignation.
  • How, you may ask, is it a sin? If we define sin as ‘missing the mark’ it makes more sense. It is like Jesus is saying, ‘you are missing the point. It (life) is not about you, it is about Me.’ Your focus is off. When one gets angry, it reveals something deeper that wants to shift your focus, like insecurity, bitterness, the old flesh.

Illus. – The other day I was waiting at a green traffic light waiting to turn right with traffic flowing from the front.  There were multiple cars coming from the front with some spacing between them, but I didn’t deem it safe to make the turn between them. The person in the car behind me, had another opinion. So, he started honking his horn. Immediately, I felt some “righteous indignation” rising in me. I was right and he was wrong. Who does he think he is to honk at me? Then I stopped myself and asked myself: Why am I feeling this way. The thing is, I regard myself as quite a good driver. It is part of who I am. So, this person offended my worth and part of my identity. But my identity is not rooted in my driving, it is rooted in Christ. So immediately I could submit this to Christ and to truth and let it go.

  • We have a choice how we deal with anger. Anger is something we feel first before we act on it. It’s an emotion, but God gave emotions to serve us, not to master us. We need to become emotionally intelligent.

1 Corinthians 6:12, … I will not be mastered by anything.

  • Control of self is a fruit of the Holy Spirit; it comes from being strengthened in the inner man. Everyone feels the emotion of anger, but if we do not master it, it will defeat us.
  • Verse 26 – Do not let the sun go down on your anger. In other words, don’t hold on to it, don’t hold a grudge, don’t let it fester into a root of bitterness.

Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.

  • Verse 27 – do not give the devil an opportunity; don’t to give him a foothold, a place from which to attack. He will surely use it against you.
  • Many times, when we get angry, it is God allowing a situation to fix a spotlight on an unresolved issue, identity issue, or past hurt so we can submit it to Him, lay it down and be healed.
  • This is a practical application of the scripture, submit unto God, resist the devil, and he will flee.
  • I believe this is why Paul says, “be angry, but do not sin.” Stop, assess, deal with the internal problem which caused the anger.

C.  Steal no longer

  • Stealing is based on selfishness; it favors self at someone else’s expense. It shows complete disregard for the other person.
  • Instead, work for honest gain in order to have something to share with him who has need.
  • It shows a total shift in focus. Instead of trying to see what I can get out of this, I do honest work so I can bless. I can sow, knowing God is the source for everything.

II.  Do not Grieve the Holy Spirit

  • God gave the Holy Spirit as a pledge of your inheritance, and you are sealed by Him for the day of redemption. God’s promises to you are sure because He has given you a pledge – the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit is also given to strengthen you in the inner man and cause you to experience the love of Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit that brings control over self and transforms the soul.
  • But many people resist the Holy Spirit as He desires to draw them toward Christ and teach them about the unfathomable riches they have in Him.
  • When people resist the Holy Spirit it grieves Him, it pains Him; all because we won’t let the Holy Spirit lead us into better things. In other words, He is grieving for our sakes, He knows what we could have if we would only trust Him.

Illus. – One of the things we say to young parents is to do all you can to raise up a child in the way he should go, because, otherwise, it will cause much grief to you later.

A.  Speak no unwholesome word

  • Verse 29 – the word ‘unwholesome’ means rotten, or putrid; let no such word, the key word there is “no” – none, nada – let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, Paul wrote.
  • Rottenness of words can mean many things; obscenities or cussing (when Peter denied the Lord he used cuss words so as to be more convincing), course joking, idle rumors, gossip, false accusations, insults, criticisms and hurtful words. In other words, anything that breaks down.
  • Words are very powerful; they can build up or they can tear down. Therefore, put a guard over your tongue and be very careful because your words can be so hurtful.
  • Notice the theme that runs through all of these verses; if you love God, you will have regard for your neighbor, you will love your neighbor. One of the most powerful expressions of that is the words that proceed from your mouth.

James 3:9-10, With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

James 1:26, If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

Luke 6:45, “The mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.”

Illus. – I once heard an older pastor say: If you see a killer bee flying around, there will be a nest somewhere.

  • If unwholesome words fly out of your mouth, it shows there is a nest there. You need to repent and surrender it to God and trust the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to change your inside. Then the language will automatically change.
  • Also, a swarm of killer bees will kill you. Your words can pound people to the point of death in their souls.
  • That’s the key here. Live your life worthy of the spiritual riches you now have and letting hurtful words come out of your mouth is inconsistent with who you are in Christ.

Romans 14:19, Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

  • Speak only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
  • Give grace; treat people better than they deserve.
  • Grace is the most powerful thing I know in responding to difficult people and difficult words.
  • Verse 23 – be renewed in the spirit of your mind. In order to speak gracious words, you have to think gracious thoughts.

B.  Be kind to one another

  • Verse 32 – be kind to one another, tenderhearted.
  • Notice the contrast with verse 31? The heart that is tender is the heart that has an active relationship to God through the Holy Spirit. But bitterness and wrath and anger are in the heart of the one who needs to be filled with love and healed of many wounds.
  • Be tenderhearted – forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. Forgive, not because God will forgive you, but because God has already forgiven you, and He has forgiven much.
  • The roots will determine the fruit.
  • Let your life bear the fruit of a relationship with God.

17 So I say this, and affirm in the Lord, that you are to no longer walk just as the [a]Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their minds, 18 being darkened in their understanding, [b]excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves up to indecent behavior [c]for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old [d]self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new [e]self, which [f]in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

25 Therefore, ridding yourselves of falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are parts of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil [g]an opportunity. 28 The one who steals must no longer steal; but rather he must labor, producing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with the one who has need. 29 Let no [h]unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification [i]according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, [j]by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, wrath, anger, [k]clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [l]you.

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