I recently listened to a podcast about the sufficiency of the Bible. The Bible alone is enough for us in all things — to show us who God is, to show us how to live, to teach, correct, rebuke — all things. As I read Ephesians 4:17–32, I am overwhelmed by its practicality. This passage is about our new life in Christ. However, this passage isn’t just about the life we are given at the moment of conversion, the moment we are given life in Christ. It’s about the actions we need to take to walk in the new self, or as stated, “to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
When we are approached with a to do list, especially one that shows us that we are currently living isn’t the best way possible, we tend to get defensive. Not only do we get defensive, but we believe the lie that if we put off the desires of our old self, we will lose a part of our happiness, or maybe even all of our happiness. I’ve heard it said before that “sin makes ya stupid.” I believe it, because I lived (and sometimes live) it.
We have a hard time believing that Jesus is better — better than our sin, better than all good things that exist — but it is the truth. So, throughout this very practical passage, we are also reminded of why we should take steps to put on this new self. By walking in this new way, we will not be alienated from the life of God, we will have something to share with anyone in need, we will be able to build up one another, giving grace to those who hear, and we’ll be able to forgive as Christ forgave us. Seems like enough for me — even just the first one, not to be alienated from God! God has abundant life for us, and while this Christian life is a struggle at times, putting off the desires of our old selves, is worth it.
I encourage you to read through the passage below and focus on all of the action items we are given. Please don’t read it and feel burdened by a checklist, because that’s not what it’s intended for. This is a recipe for experiencing newness. Jesus gives us new life, but there are many passages that exhort us to do things in order to continue to be transformed as part of our sanctification. How beautiful that God gives us an ability to walk in step with his Spirit. God gives us power over sin. God gives us hope and strength to consider trials pure joy. But if you haven’t tasted life on the other side of the struggle of pursuit of him and all things holy, you will have a hard time taking another person’s word for it. So I urge you, “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus”, to just try it. Trust this God-breathed text. Trust God’s holy Word that is living and active. Trust that he is faithful and his promises are real. Trust he has our best interest and is good. Trust him enough to surrender your desires to him, even your good ones.
Let’s be a church that lives according to his Word. Let’s be a church that believes what he commands. Even if it’s hard, it’s better than all we could dream up or experience on our own.
Trust him, church. Put on your new selves to experience life abundantly.
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. 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. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
— Ephesians 4:17–32