Do you have the Christmas bug yet, or is Christmas starting to bug you? Have you already started to roll your eyes expecting yet another Christmas devo? Not to worry.
Instead, we are going to talk about our new life in Christ. Let’s look at a passage written by Paul.
Ephesians 4:17-24 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 their minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Let’s talk about this using Scott’s problem – weight. Maybe you will be able to relate. If not, I’m sure you will be able to substitute something about yourself so that you can. Let’s break it down verse by verse, shall we?
v. 17 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.
Honesty check. Has my weight problem reflected that of the “Gentiles”? Well, let me reflect on the number of diets I have been on, the countless hours running and biking, the number of times I have had gym memberships. Why did I do all that? To lose weight. Did it help? Nope. I was chasing after the same thing the rest of the world chases with the same results. Let’s face it folks, the world is getting fatter, not skinnier, despite all the money spent on self-help. That, my friends, is futility of the mind. Guilty as evidenced in my thinking and deeds.
v. 18 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.
While it is true that I am born again, I can’t help seeing how my thinking and behavior towards food has alienated myself from God. In fact, I was using it TO DO just that. Why? Because my heart was hard in this area with regards to God. For some reason or reasons, I wanted to solve this problem on my own. I didn’t want God’s help. Sure, the longer I was a Christian, the more I understood that I needed his help. But the fact that I refused it then only reinforced what Paul said, that I alienated myself from the life of God due to the hardness of my heart. That is an alarming realization, my friends.
v. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
Indulging in that which feels good temporarily yet is harmful for me. Hmmm. Finding myself unable to control my actions. Not caring enough to do what is really needed to stop this madness. Reminds me of Romans 1:21-22, 24-25 “for although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them up in the lust of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
v. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!
No, it is not. I became a believer in a moment of time that he took away my desire for alcohol. I know the power in his name. Egads. Father, please forgive me.
v. 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
Yes, I indeed have heard about him and have been taught in him. I know that Jesus can and will free me of all my sin. “If the Son set you free, you will be free, indeed!” Yes, I know that and have seen that. I just have not desired to rid myself of gluttony enough to trust him with this awful problem.
v. 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
This means I need to be ready for a radical change. I must be willing to abandon everything related to that old way of life. I need to protect myself from my old self by changing my surroundings, by creating hard boundaries, by making public notice that I am NOT going back. The old is gone, behold the new. This isn’t simply a new diet. I need to be disgusted with my former behavior, so much so that I recognize it for what it is – putrid sin of which I am greatly ashamed of. That garbage has to go, at all cost.
v. 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of their minds,
This can only be done through Jesus. I need to get my head around that, to accept it to the core of my being, to welcome and embrace it like my very life depends on it. I need to be like the woman in Luke 7. “And standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” If this sounds ridiculous, I’m not willing to change. This woman was repentant. Am I?
v. 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The old is gone, the new is here. Yes, Jesus STILL DOES miracles. He STILL SAVES. He STILL REDEEMS. He HAS CONQUERED sin and death. He IS life. The amazing thing is that we believers already have all this power within us because the Holy Spirit resides inside our bodies. We lack nothing. It is a matter of allowing Him to work in us, to seek him through the pages of our bible, to meditate on his word, to renew our thinking, to change our environment, to seek companionship with like-minded believers, to seek education. Yes, and to pray and spend time in communion with Jesus. Folks, if you want to do big things, you must do big things with the King of Big – Jesus.
It looks like I am finally doing this weight thing right. I have lost a lot and have been stable. In fact, I have gained weight during vacations and holidays, and have lost it right away. That didn’t happen before. I was doing it for all the wrong reasons and failed because of it. This time, I was convicted so, so hard that I wasn’t treating my body like the temple of God. I was disgusted with my behavior. Mostly, I was greatly ashamed that I turned away from my God to solve my impossible problem.
My inner circle of friends would say that I have strong faith. Still, this was an area that was blatant in my unbelief and sin. Yes, we all have these areas in our lives. We, therefore, have a question we need to answer. – Why? If we know we have a stronghold of sin, why do we tolerate it? Why do we harbor our sin? We simply have no excuse.
Would you like a refreshing Christmas story? Start your own. Throw your sin at the cross. What might it be? Pornography? Lust? A bad relationship that needs to be ended? Loose lips that are quick to gossip? Materialism? Pleasure seeking? Laziness? Addiction? Television? Facebook? Do you need to make amends to anyone? Do you seek the approval of others? Seriously, folks. Yes, you may be saved and are going to heaven. But why in the world would you want to go through life with a chain around your neck went you can be free, free, free?! Brutal honesty, folks.
I’d like to start sharing stories about a sin that you gave over to Jesus. Let’s share the freedom that he so willingly gives to us. Let’s share our new lives so that we may give hope and encouragement to our fellow believers as well as to the rest of this world.
Father, encourage your people! Stir in them a discomfort for sin that becomes unbearable. Rouse them into action. Grant them repentance that leads to new life. Then, guide and teach them so that they may see what that looks like. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers