With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.Ephesians 4:17-23
With this segment Paul looks further back in the process. He has talked in the sense unit just before this about us coming to maturity and being careful of every wind of doctrine etc. He then talks about the ministry gifts and how they have been given in order to bring us to maturity in Christ. In this segment it is like he has taken a giant step back and now is talking about pre-Christian days. Don’t live like you used to live! Don’t live like the rest of the world live. They don’t receive or accept the truth of God because their minds are closed and their hearts are hardened. For that reason they are unrestrained and live how they please: without shame, living for lustful pleasure and practicing every kind of impurity. It is interesting what the human mind can come up with in its quest for pleasure when it casts off the truth of God. But I won’t spell it out. Neither would I suggest you “research” it. Don’t even go there.
You ought to be different from that. Paul says “that isn’t what you learned about Christ.” That stuff has nothing to do with Christ. Even though there are some in this world who advocate it, even today. For Paul in his day and age it was a very issue because the temple to Diana of the Ephesians was right there in Ephesus and all kinds of sexual deviance went on there. He strikes a clear line of demarcation between their old life and their new one in Christ. If indeed you have heard about Jesus and you have learned the truth (about Him and from Him – through those who minister as listed above) then have nothing to do with your earlier life. Clearly here he is talking to Gentile Christians, not Jewish Christians. Don’t go back to what the society is doing around you. Break free from it.
The word Paul uses has the sense of casting off old clothes. Something that was so comfortable, fitted you so well and was comfortable to wear, is now no longer appropriate. It doesn’t suit you anymore. It is not for you to wear. Caste it aside like something dirty and soiled. Throw it off, throw it away. Take your former life and remove it. Interesting that it may well require removal in layers just as clothes do. Maybe that is why Paul used the analogy. You may have to remove a number of layers of “fllthy old clothes” before you are rid of it. Old habits die hard. It is a case of persevering until you have accomplished what you need to do. Keep taking off layers until there are no more to take off and you are clean. Then keep walking in that cleanness by renewing your mind in the Spirit. Does it remind you of something? I am sure what comes to mind for most of us is Romans 12:2 and following. Interesting isn’t it that this is the same point in the book of Ephesians that Paul made in the book in the Romans when he said the same thing. That is, he had just started switching from doctrine to practical Christian living. Like I have told you Paul reaches that point in all of his letters.
I was recently speaking at a Conference where David Wong was also one of the speakers. David listed a series of steps involved in us doing what Paul is suggesting above.
Here are David Wong’s steps. I remember them – you will see why as you look at the steps.
- Hear – i.e. hear the Word of God
- Understand – we must endeavor to understand to get the most from it.
- Remember – any new truth we gain is of no use until it is stored in our brains. Notes are better than no notes, but better still is practiced information stored in the memory banks.
- Decide – make a decision to act on what you have heard
- Do – do something about it. Many of us think making a decision is enough. It’s not; you must act on it. Put it in to practice or you will lose it.
- Persist – again we will often do something for a while and then stop. They say it takes a month of repetition to create a new habit.
Now there’s a challenge. Go do it.
The first place we need to be truthful is in our heart, with ourselves.Joyce Meyer
A real decision is measured by the fact you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t really decided!Rick Godwin
Some people get lost in thought because it’s such unfamiliar territory!Rick Godwin