Introduction: Last week Paul gave us the vision of what we could and
should become in Jesus. We are all a part of the church, each of us
fulfilling our specific role. The glue that holds us together so we
can work well with each other is “ligaments” of humility, gentleness
and love. What happens if one part of our church body is infected
with the cancer of sin? This week Paul talks to us about what we
should avoid in life to remain a healthy part of the church. God has
expectations for our life. Let’s jump in and learn about them!
- Closed Minds, Dark Hearts
- Read Ephesians 4:17-18. Some cite Paul for the argument
that once we are saved it does not matter what we do. What
does this text suggest? (In Ephesians 4:17 the Greek word
the NIV translates “live” is the “peripateo” that we
discussed last week. Paul is telling us not to “walk” in
the ways we did before we were converted.)
- The mind is the key to our actions. When Paul tells
that the unconverted Gentiles have “futile thinking,”
what does he mean? (Something that is “futile” is not
worth the effort. They have “lightweight” thoughts.
Thoughts that are not worth thinking.)
- Notice the other descriptors that Paul uses:
“darkened,” “ignorance,” and “hardening of hearts.”
Would “evil,” “uneducated,” and “closed” minds be a
reasonable way to restate this?
- How does the world often describe Christians?
(“Uneducated” and “closed minded” are two common
descriptions. Paul tells us that these terms
more appropriately describe those who have not
- Why are these terms appropriate for the
world? (Without an understanding of the
mystery of God’s will you are missing an
important part of your education. If you
reject the gospel, you have a closed mind.
If you do not know God, you cannot
properly understand the world.)
- A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old
and New Testaments brings out an interesting aspect
of these verses. It tells us that Ephesians 4:18
refers to “literally the hardening of the skin so as
not to be sensible to touch.” The unconverted cannot
see and he cannot feel. Imagine a life like that!
- Read Ephesians 4:19. What kind of “sensitivity” has been
lost by the world? What sight and feeling has been lost?
(The sensitivity to the impulse of the Holy Spirit.)
- When Paul tells us that those who give themselves up
to “every kind of impurity” have a “continual lust
for more,” what is he describing in today’s terms?
(Addictions. Sexual impurity, for example, is both
progressive and addictive. I saw an investigative
program on trapping men who were using the Internet
to lure underage boys and girls into a sexual
relationship. Adults, posing as children, would
respond to electronic messages from these men and
would tell them that they were home alone. These men
would walk into the home of the child and be
confronted by a news reporter. Even a medical doctor
and a rabbi were caught in this sting. These men knew
this was wrong, but they did not resist their evil
impulses. Their addictions made them insensitive to
the Holy Spirit – and to common sense!)
- As a part of the body of Christ, what is our mental
obligation? (To be open-minded about the things of God, to
be educated about God’s Word, to think worth-while
thoughts, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.)
- Coming to Christ
- Read Ephesians 4:20-21. How is the Christian different?
(He has now been taught to act differently.)
- Do we actually do this: teach Christians to act
- When I was a young man in my early twenties and first
started teaching a Bible class, the big theological
controversy was over righteousness by faith. My
church was divided not so much over the issue of
grace, but the issue of what that meant in the life
of the believer. Some praised the “relief and
release” they felt in knowing that their actions no
longer mattered. They no longer had to worry about
obedience. Is that what we should be teaching? (Let’s
look at that next.)
- Read Ephesians 4:22-24. What does Paul say is the “truth
that is in Jesus?” (Paul continues that the truth we have
been taught is to put off the old self. Put on new
attitudes, put on a new self “created to be like God in
true righteousness and holiness.”)
- Do our thoughts and actions matter? (You bet they do.
They do not save us, but they are a critical part of
our new way of life. We do not become converted and
then remain in our old life.)
- When you look at the phrase “created to be like God
in true righteousness and holiness,” of what are you
reminded? (The creation of Adam and Eve. Jesus gives
us the ability to be recreated again in the image of
- Practical Godliness
- Read Ephesians 4:25-28. Paul now gives us some very
specific advice on living the Godly life. What connection
do you see between verses 26 and 27? (Anger gives Satan a
foothold in your life.)
- How is that? (Anger prompts you to do things which
you know are not right. Your normal restraints are
- What does Paul say to the poor who will not work?
- What does Paul say to the rich who are selfish?
- Read Ephesians 4:29. What test would you apply to whether
your talk is appropriate? (Whether it would benefit those
- What place is left for insults? Gossip? Malicious
- We read in Ephesians 4:25 that we should speak
truthfully. Sometimes I hear (and sometimes I find
myself saying) “Well, it’s the truth.” Is
truthfulness the only standard by which we should
measure our speech? (We should ask ourselves not only
whether something is true, we should also ask whether
it is helpful and beneficial.)
- Read Ephesians 4:30. Why is this such important advice?
(Because the power of the Holy Spirit is the key to the
new life. Romans 15:16.)
- Read Ephesians 4:31-32. How do you get rid of bitterness?
Is it something that you can just grit your teeth and
- What relationship do you see between these two
verses? (The one is the antidote to the other. If you
practice being kind, compassionate and forgiving,
then bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and
malice will be banished.)
- Friend, God calls you to the new life. Will you determine
to put the “old person” behind you and walk in the ways of
- Next week: The Christian Walk.