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Lesson 9: Living the New Life *

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!

  1. Closed Minds, Dark Hearts


    1. 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.)


      1. 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.)


      2. 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?


        1. 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 accepted Jesus!)


          1. 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.)


      3. 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!


    2. 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.)


      1. 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!)


    3. 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.)


  2. Coming to Christ


    1. Read Ephesians 4:20-21. How is the Christian different? (He has now been taught to act differently.)


      1. Do we actually do this: teach Christians to act differently?


      2. 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.)


    2. 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.")


      1. 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.)


      2. 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 God.)


  3. Practical Godliness


    1. 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.)


      1. How is that? (Anger prompts you to do things which you know are not right. Your normal restraints are diminished.)


      1. What does Paul say to the poor who will not work?


      2. What does Paul say to the rich who are selfish?


    1. Read Ephesians 4:29. What test would you apply to whether your talk is appropriate? (Whether it would benefit those who listen.)


      1. What place is left for insults? Gossip? Malicious teasing?


      2. 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.)


    2. 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.)


    3. Read Ephesians 4:31-32. How do you get rid of bitterness? Is it something that you can just grit your teeth and overcome?


      1. 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.)


    4. Friend, God calls you to the new life. Will you determine to put the "old person" behind you and walk in the ways of Jesus?


  1. Next week: The Christian Walk.


* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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