A bible study series in Ephesians (Part 6)
- Summary: This lesson #6 in Ephesians covers the radical changes that conversion brings, the "old self" and the "new self", a strong call for purity and godly living, and a charge to be filled with the Holy Spirit rather than with alcohol!
[Read Ephesians 4:17-32]
Ephesians 4:17 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.
- •• Getting saved, as the Ephesian Gentiles had, should lead to a total change in lifestyle! As born-again believers, we are to “no longer live” according to the thoughts, words, and actions that characterized our lifestyles prior to receiving the Lord’s great salvation.
- • By contrast with our way of life prior to coming to faith in Jesus Christ, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old
- has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
4:20-24 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.  Surely you heard of him 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.
- •• (20) He addresses, presumably in at least some of his Ephesian hearers, a casual attitude to Christian life and conduct. Perhaps there was a looseness or an unwillingness to make the radical changes that typify genuine conversion from darkness to light and from the power of Satan into the kingdom of God.
- • I think that a good paraphrase of Paul’s words in verse 20 might be: “That’s not what being a Christian means!”
- •• The essence of the changed life is to put off and put on.
- • “Put off your old self  ... Put on the new self” .
• When you get saved, you should want to stop living the self-centered way you used to without the Lord in your life. When I came to Jesus Christ in a profound and personal way in 1969, I no longer wanted to be the “old” Jim. I accepted the Lord’s challenge to create in me a “new self” that would be pleasing to Him.
- •• The apostle then goes on to give some practical examples of this “put off ... put on” principle —
- • (25) Stop lying; instead, speak truthfully.
• (28) Stop stealing; instead, work and give to others.
• (29) Stop the rotten talk; instead, speak only that which edifies and builds up.
- •• There’s no compromising or settling here for a merely “acceptable” level before the Lord. No, but rather “...put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
- • That is a high and holy calling, one worthy of your best efforts — that is, to “be like God”. Like God in what sense? — “in true righteousness and holiness”.
• Colossians 3:9-10 “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.” The perfect standard for all that we aspire to is God’s holy and righteous image.
[Read Ephesians 5:1-17]
5:3-6 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
- •• (3) “...not even a hint of sexual immorality ... impurity...”
- • Immorality was epidemic in many ancient pagan societies. Immorality and impurity are to be nonexistent in Christian society!
- •• (4) And this high standard goes beyond acts of immorality even to immoral talk — “Nor should there be obscenity ... or coarse joking, which are out of place.” It is entirely “out of place” for Christians to engage in cussing, obscenities, dirty jokes, or even jokes with subtle sexual innuendoes. Ask yourself? — “Would I say this to Jesus?”
•• (5) How important are these standards to God? — “No immoral, impure, or greedy person ... has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
- • The temptation in reading this verse, or preaching or teaching it, is to try to soft-pedal it, to lessen its force, to water it down. Don’t do that! Read it exactly as it was written by the inspired apostle — “No immoral, impure, or greedy person ... has any inheritance in the kingdom...” — and adjust your thinking and your conduct accordingly, if you value and treasure the kingdom of God.
5:8, 11 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light...  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
- •• Again, the contrast is emphasized between our pre-Christian lives and our lives now — “You were once darkness, but now you are light.”
- • And in obedience and submission to that God-intended contrast, now, as God’s born-again children, we are to “live as children of light.”
• Don’t take a casual approach to your Christian lifestyle. Rather, “be very careful ... how you live” (vs. 15).
- •• (11) Not only should we avoid evil deeds, we should actively "expose them".
- • Notice, though, that we are told to avoid and expose the deeds, not the people. In my experience, rarely do people get embarrassed into salvation. It’s not unsaved people that we are opposing and exposing, it is the “deeds of darkness”. As the old saying goes, “love the sinner, but hate the sin.”
5:18-20 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. instead, be filled with the Spirit.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,  always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- •• In our unsaved years, many of us were filled with alcohol (“wine”). Now, as God’s children, “instead” of being filled with wine, we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
•• In another bible study, we look at speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of being filled with the Spirit. Here Paul lists some other things that characterize the Spirit-filled life:
- • Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
• Music in your heart to the Lord
• Always giving thanks to God the Father
This bible study is continued in Highlights from Ephesians #7.
The beginning lesson in this series is Highlights from Ephesians #1.
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©2001, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.