Sunday, October 24 2021
Christians live in a different way because we think in a different way. For this reason, Paul urged the church, “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” (Ephesians 4:17 ESV). How are the minds of the Gentiles futile in thinking? The apostle Paul explained, “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. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (4:18–19). In other words, the Gentile nations are darkened in understanding because they are ignorant of God, and they are ignorant because of their hardness of heart. The result of such agnosticism is that God gave them over to sexual impurity and lewd behavior. The apostle expressed the same truth in further detail in Romans 1:18–32. God gives up those who accept a distorted view of Him over to lusts and sexual perversions.
Paul urged these Christians, “But that is not the way you learned Christ!” (Ephesians 4:20). The truth is in Jesus (4:21). The truth of Jesus Christ teaches believers “to put off the old self” that was a life corrupted through deceitful desires (4:22). Learning the truth that is in Christ renews the believer “in the spirit of the mind” (4:23). That renewing of the mind is the putting on of the new person according to God’s creation in righteousness and holiness (4:24).
The renewing of the mind as a new person is more than overcoming sexual immorality. The apostle Paul listed the changes of putting on the new person. These include “speaking the truth” with one’s neighbor and putting away what is false (4:25). Paul taught to be angry and do not sin; no longer steal but rather labor, do honest labor to share with those in need; speak nothing corrupt but what is good for lifting up others; put away resentment, anger, wrath, yelling, and cursing, and be kind, compassionate, and forgiving as God forgives you (4:26–32). This is the disposition and attitude of faithful Christians. This is how the faithful imitate God and walk in love as Christ loved and gave Himself as a sacrifice (5:1–2). For this reason, the apostle taught Christians that fornication, sexual impurity, and lust must not be named among God’s holy people who are the saints (5:3). The mind given to these things will act on them and no longer put off the old self. Furthermore, Christians are not to talk about filthy sexual things, speak foolishly, nor make crude jokes (5:4). Those who do these things have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ (5:5). God’s wrath will come upon those who act with such disobedience (5:6). The faithful cannot be partners of such evil things (5:7).
Therefore, the apostle encouraged Christians to “walk as children of light” and so do what is pleasing to God (Ephesians 5:7–10). In this way, the faithful must not partake in works of darkness, but instead expose them (5:11). The faithful expose evil by their example of walking in the light and proclaiming the truth. The Greek for “expose” means to point out and correct. These filthy things are sexually immoral and shameful even to speak of (5:12). For this reason, Christians expose what is evil by the light in their walk (5:13–14). Christians are to be wise in how they live making the best use of their time (5:15–17). Furthermore, believers are to refrain from being filled with wine but be filled with the Spirit that produces self-control among other fruits (Ephesians 5:18; cf. Galatians 5:22–23). When Christians are filled with the Spirit, they sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs among themselves with thanksgiving as is contrary to the partying centered on alcohol (5:19).
By being filled with the Spirit, the faithful give thanks to God in the name of Christ (5:20). Throughout Paul’s teaching, he emphasized thankfulness. Thanksgiving is essential to holy living. Thanksgiving to God counteracts various sins. Thankful believers want to please God and obey Him. Giving thanks to God is another fruit of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for giving believers a way to change and live a new life.