“In God’s family, we choose to live differently.” That’s pretty much what Paul is saying in Ephesians 4. Now that we’re alive as sons and daughters of God, now that we’re members of His family, the house rules have changed. This new family doesn’t live like other families do. It’s all different.
1) The Old:
Paul describes the old self—this Gentile lifestyle—as “corrupt through deceitful desires.” It’s a desire-driven way of life, living to gratify our appetites.
But notice, those desires are deceitful, because they never deliver what they promise. And they are corrupting—they twist and dehumanize us the more we give into them.
Paul says that kind of living messes up our thinking, calling it the “futility of mind.” Paul is describing what moral philosophers call “Akrasia.” What the heart desires, the will embraces, the mind rationalizes, and the conscience justifies.
Paul’s whole point is that we cannot keep living the way we used to.
2) The New:
Paul uses two images to describe our new way of living: a classroom and a wardrobe.
Your new self is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
It’s God’s own signature style. It’s a look that He created and wears Himself. And He’s clothing you in His own image and likeness.
You are His sons and daughters after all, part of the family. So, it’s fitting that you would dress the part.
And at the heart of this “putting off” and “putting on” is to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds”
We are to put off the old self and put on the new self, as we actively receive the ongoing Spirit-led renewal of our minds. Paul is describing spiritual transformation, not behavior modification.
As we open ourselves up to the Spirit, following His lead, obeying His call, surrendering to Jis will, we are putting off the old self and putting on the new self. When we keep in step with the Spirit, those old gentile rags just don’t fit right, and our new godly threads start to become increasingly comfortable. We feel more at home in them day by day. as we grow into the people we were always meant to be.
We have a whole new life to live into.
3) The Change:
Paul now gives 5 examples of what this Spirit-led renewal looks like as we put off the old and put on the new.
- Put off lying and instead put on truth.
- Put off sinful, festering, sustained anger, and instead put on daily reconciliation.
- Put off stealing, and instead put on honest work.
- Put off corrupting talk—caustic words that tear down—and put on instead constructive, edifying, situationally wise speech.
- Put off bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice, and relational ugliness—and put on kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.
What does it mean to be imitators of God? “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
We have the Father to imitate, and the Son to follow, and the Spirit urging us to new life.
We have everything we need for life and godliness.
Takeaway: In God’s family, we choose to live differently.