That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24
Chapter 4:17-5:20. A Christlike People
This section contains an exposition of one of the most amazing of the NT’s teaching. As members of the body of Christ, the living church of which he is the head, believers are the present incarnation of Jesus in our world. It is in and through us that Jesus continues to love, heal, and communicate the good news to others. This has been called the “practical” section of Ephesians. Actually it is one of the most significant theologically. Here God shows us that we are called to be, individually and collectively, the living expression of Jesus himself.
The New Self; 4:17-25. Believers are those once dead who have been raised to life in Christ. Paul calls on the Ephesians to abandon the sensuality and impurity that marked their lives (“put off the old self” and to take on entirely new approach to living. Taking their lead from Christ, these believers are to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”. To present Jesus, we must be like him in our commitment to righteousness.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
The New Relationships; 4:25-5:2. We are to be imitators of God… as dearly loved children, and live a life of love. Thus we will live a life like that of Jesus. Paul describes the relationships that Christians have with others in the church. He places great stress on “speaking truthfully” to our neighbors. This is not truth in contrast to lies, but truth as living honestly with others, not trying to deceive them about ourselves. Even anger is to be dealt with honestly, by going to a brother and working out the conflict before it leads to sin — and that before the sun goes down. In our fellowship, bitterness and malice are to be replaced with kindness, compassion and forgiveness “just as in Christ God forgave you”. If we are like Christ in our relationships with others, the church will truly become a community of love.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
The New Lifestyle; 5:3-20. Like Christ, we are to be filled with the Spirit and live as “children of the light”. Paul’s emphasis here is on holiness, which is vital — for we represent Jesus. Those things which are unlike him are “improper for God’s holy people.” In fact, our lives, marked by goodness, righteousness, and truth, will expose the “fruitless deeds of darkness.” Paul’s point is that as we live a Christlike life, the great contrast between good and evil, light and darkness, will clearly reveal sin for what it is.
How can we help each other grow toward this incarnation lifestyle to which we are called? Paul concludes with a call for believers to help each other focus their lives on Jesus and as a worshipping community deepen our shared relationship with him.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.