Do You See a Difference
Lord Jesus, You are my purpose and passion, and the joy of my life. I exult and praise You.
Read EPHESIANS 4:17–32
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.
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.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Who could believe in a God who will make everything new later, if it is in no way apparent from the activity of those who hope in [him] now?” (E. Schillebeeckx, 1914–2009). This gives us pause for thought.
Uncomfortably, surveys of churchgoers in the USA have revealed that there is very little difference in behavior between those who go to church and those who do not. There are just as many marriage breakdowns, acts of dishonesty and breaches of promise. Of course, going to church does not necessarily mean Christian commitment—but you would expect better ethics among Christians!
After his glorious broad-brush claims for the church at large, Paul gets very personal. He contrasts the former way of living in the dark with the new way in the starkest manner—between the old self of self-indulgence with no sense of accountability and the new self “created to be like God” (24). Note that the contrasting lists of characteristics include issues like impurity and lust verses speaking the truth, dealing appropriately with anger, working honestly and expressing kindness. The good characteristics are bread-and- butter aspects of daily living, about which Jesus taught explicitly. They are not high-flown qualities beyond the average person, but basic good behavior.
Whether we exhibit the old self or the new depends entirely on an attitude of mind and heart. If these are centered in Christ (20), then the inner mindset will result in a more Christ-like lifestyle. Living for Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit (30) makes Christian ethics possible. This living begins on the inside; without that attitude, the new self becomes wishful thinking. Ethics require clear inner commitment. The Lord’s Table is the place where we best remember who we are in Christ, where kind and compassionate people forgive each other, just as in Christ God forgave us.
Ask yourself what important changes have happened in your life because of God’s work in you.
Spirit of God, any changes for good in my life have come about through Your presence and power. I desire to continue to cooperate with Your transforming work.