In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul speaks of unity in the church. He goes on to describe the differences between converted and unconverted Gentiles. Christian Gentiles are to be different, he says. They should no longer be following greedy desires, worshipping idols, coveting worldly possessions, or practicing impurity. The problem is that all those around them are doing just that, and, it’s just what they had been doing before. Doubtless these people were their long time friends, family, and close neighbors. Living among those who do the very things they are tempted to do, converted Gentiles were instructed here for good reason. They were not to live like these others or their former selves. Paul tells them why it was so dangerous to do so.
-They were “darkened in their understanding.” These men had no light. Everything they thought, said, and did was wicked and deceitful. They had no knowledge or desire for God.
-They were “alienated from the life of God.” Not only did they not practice godliness, they estranged themselves from anything or anyone who did. They stayed as far from God as they could. This condition was a result of their willful ignorance about the things of God.
-Their ignorance, in turn, was a result of their hardness of heart. These were those who had rejected all the truth and light God had given them. As they continued to do so, they continued to give themselves over to sin, greed, and every kind of filthiness without shame.
But that is not the way you learned Christ! ~Ephesians 4:20
Paul is saying, “But not you!” You do not live this way anymore. This should not be true of you. You Gentiles – you converted Gentiles – “learned Christ.” Christ is your teacher. You are no longer without knowledge or understanding. You are no longer ignorant or hardened. You are no longer deceived. You are saved. Act like it. Heres’s how…
Paul tells them to “put off” their old self and “put on” the new one. He describes this “new self” as being like God, truly righteous, and truly holy. He gives six specific examples of changes that ought to be taking place in these (and all) believers.
-Stop lying. Tell the truth to others always and in all circumstances.
-Control your anger. Let it not turn to wrath, bitterness, or revenge.
-Stop stealing and work honestly.
-Let your speech be always edifying and clean. Put away gossip, slander, boasting, corruption, and filthy language. Build up with your talk and do not tear down.
-Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. If He convicts you of your sin, repent. Do not continue in sin and dismiss your conscience like the heathens do.
-Get rid of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. Instead, be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving. This is how God has treated you.
Paul’s exhortations are clear. We ought to be changed if we are his. We ought to look 180 degrees different from those around us who are not his. We ought to look completely opposite of how we did before we met Jesus. We ought to look like Christ. We are saved! May God help us act like it.