My Bible study class is discussing Chip Ingram’s book, The Miracle of Life Change. These few pages are my notes for that class.
A believer whose life does not change is an oxymoron; so you best go back and discover if you’re really a Christian. Ephesians 4:17-24 uses strong language: insist and must. Don’t live like the rest of the pagan world, in futility of mind (vain, aimless purposeless, and totally unrelated to God). What does the futility of an unbelieving mind look like (Ephesians 4:18)? What does it mean to live with a darkened heart (Ephesians 4:19)?
It doesn’t make sense for those who know Christ to live as those who do not know Christ. These people have basically stiff-armed God. If you are born again, you are a new creation. Did you understand from the beginning that coming to Jesus would involve a radical life change? If not, do you see it now?
Paul says you heard of Him and were taught in Him (Ephesians 4:21). How can you fall back into the same old immoral lifestyle? The challenge is to put off the old self, renew your mind, and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Life Characterized by Moral Purity:
Paul insists that we must live a holy life, characterized by purity. It’s not an option. Change doesn’t happen to earn God’s favor, but because of who you are and whose you are (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). How then should you live?
A closer look at Ephesians 4:17-19 allows us to see what we are to avoid:
- Command: each phrase describes how the Gentiles live. Futility of thinking, darkened understanding, separated from God.
- State: a position of those not in Christ, their condition, mentally and spiritually blind.
- Reasons: here’s the “why” question; because of ignorance within them, and hardening of their hearts. It’s not intellectual ignorance but spiritual ignorance. Their hearts are like petrified wood.
- Applied results: loss of sensitivity, sensuality, every kind of impurity, and a lust for more. Think of a calloused hand, and transfer that to the heart.
Compare these persons as to what they did and did not do, and what they consequently became (2 Chronicles 36:11-13, Nehemiah 9:16-17, Zechariah 7:11-12.
An Immoral Lifestyle is Inconceivable for Believers:
God wants to save us from our destructive patterns that breaks His heart, embarrasses His family and destroys His people (you). We generally find ourselves rationalizing and compromising. The reasons:
It contradicts who we are: we are not what we used to be. Who are you now and what have you become (2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1)?
It contradicts who Christ is: you’ve heard of Him and have been taught and immorality is not what Jesus is all about! The rare phrase “in Jesus” is a historical term. You know what Jesus did on earth. He was not some evil person, but one who lives a sinless and perfect life for all to see. Now live it out: love, be salt and light, experience peace. Remember what first attracted you to Christ. What keeps you in Christ now? A good moral life is simply a natural by-product and reflection of a genuine relationship with God.
The Morphing Process: How to Break from the old Life
According to Ephesians 4:22-24, there are three steps:
Put off the old (Ephesians 4:22, the past): this points to a specific decision in time when you got started in Christ. The most miserable people on the planet are believes stuck in the old life, overshadowed by guilt and shame. They don’t enjoy the sin any long but are slaves to it. Sin affects our fellowship with God and hinders our prayer life. They are fake and superficial. (see Colossians 3:5-10).
Be renewed in the mind (Ephesians 4:23, the present): like a computer that needs to be reprogrammed, Christians need to be involved in discipleship. The commands here are given in second person plural, meaning that we are not supposed to do this alone, but in community. What actions are you taking to renew your mind?
Put on the new self (Ephesians 4:24, the future): live with a new orientation, Christ becoming the central aspect of all you are and intend to accomplish. List the specific clothes that Paul commands us to put on (Colossians 3:12-15).
- In what areas of your life did God convict you personally as you thought about putting off the old self?
- Where is your life not holy?
- In what ways do your thinking actions, speech and attitudes reflect a new you?
- What will you do with the threefold principles of transformation?
- What will you put off?
- How will you renew your mind?
- What will you put on… specific behaviors or actions?