Ephesians 4:17–32comment (0)
October 21, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 4:17–32
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Followers of Jesus Christ are to have a lifestyle that is obviously Christian. But what is an “obviously Christian lifestyle”? Is it living by high moral standards? Or is it living with fewer moral failures than non-Christians? In some sense both of these answers is correct. Yet more is involved. Positively, an obviously Christian lifestyle means doing what grows out of and reflects a believer’s relationship with Christ. Negatively, an obviously Christian lifestyle involves doing nothing to grieve or disappoint the Holy Spirit. Such a lifestyle always will contrast vividly with that of nonbelievers. In this week’s lesson, the apostle Paul contrasts a Christian lifestyle with a nonbeliever’s lifestyle and directs us to exhibit a Christian lifestyle in specific ways.
Satisfied With Jesus (17–19)
To be a Christian is to be a new person, having a new Lord, a new motive and a new character. In Christ, we have gained a new power to live for a new purpose. The apostle used the term “walk” to picture the Christian’s daily behavior. He urged us to walk differently from nonbelievers. We are to change the way we live because we have been changed by God’s grace. We are to forsake the nonbeliever’s way of living, described by such terms as “futile,” “darkened,” “ignorance,” “callous” and “promiscuously.” We who follow Christ have a new identity, with a new power, resulting in new behavior.
Saved, Saved (20–24)
The Christian is not to imitate the lifestyle of the unsaved people around him or her, not to pattern himself or herself after the nonbeliever. The Christian’s outlook has been changed by Christ. The believer has “learned Christ,” not merely learned about Him, but has a personal relationship with Him so that he or she gets to know Him better and better each day. Since Christ is the living Savior, we can “learn” Him through daily personal fellowship with Him. What we experience in salvation motivates us to pattern our behavior after the truth we find in Christ. We are to put off, like an old, worn-out coat, what we were before we were saved and, like a newly purchased dress, put on the new life we have in Christ. As we put ourselves in Christ’s hands, He will change us — our hearts, motives and ambitions. He will renew us so that the purposes that motivated Him on earth will motivate us.
I Have Been Redeemed (25–29)
Paul followed his expression of spiritual transformation with some specific, practical behaviors. He dared to name sins to avoid. Four are found in these verses: lying, anger, stealing and corrupt speech. We are to be truthful with our neighbors. A lie is more than a statement contrary to fact used with the intent to deceive. It includes exaggeration and adding falsehood to something that is true. Deception, cheating, making false promises, betraying a confidence and false excuses are all forms of lying. When we are angry, we must avoid sin. Anger is an emotional arousal caused by something that displeases us. Believers should be angry at sin but loving toward people (Ps. 97:10). We should avoid acting under emotional stress in ways that serve as a springboard for Satan’s work. We are to work so that we may have money and possessions to help the needy. We are to work to give. The idea that “The world owes me a living” is not Christian but pagan. Stealing and laziness have no part in a Christian’s life. Our speech should encourage our fellow human beings, ministering to them rather than inhibiting them. Don’t talk as the unsaved talk. Foul language of any sort should never come out of a Christian’s mouth. A change in speech occurs when a person becomes a Christian. A Christian’s words should build up, not tear down.
Search Me, O God (30–32)
We avoid grieving the Holy Spirit by showing lovingkindness to those around us and forgiving those who wrong us. Just as Christ forgave us when we were in the wrong, so we are to forgive rather than fix blame, to free others who have trespassed. We should make the Holy Spirit the guest of honor in our lives. He is the power to enable us to live a Christian lifestyle.