Ephesians 4:17-24 A transformed Life

As we get older, we may find ourselves saying, ‘I’m not what I used to be.’  Usually that is not meant in a positive sense.  We are admitting that our faculties are not as sharp as they once were, we don’t have the energy we once did, and so forth.  Occasionally we may be grateful that we are not as we once were – we have wisdom and experience that we did not have when younger.  Spiritually the Christian should be able to say in a positive sense, ‘I am not what I used to be.’  Consider now Ephesians 4:17-24 A transformed life.

1. Walking in darkness

Paul gives a grim description of life lived apart from God and his Word.  Human nature is corrupt at its root (Psalm 51:5).  Though not as bad as they could be, no-one is as good as he should be.  Note v17 ‘the futility of their thinking’ – the whole way of life of the unbeliever.  ‘Futility’ indicates emptiness and gives God’s view of man’s achievements and philosophies without his revelation.  The reason they are futile is that the Source of meaning – God – is missing.  They are ‘darkened in their understanding’ (v18) – unable to grasp the meaning of life, all their thinking twisted.  Since they are ‘separated from the life of God’ they are dead spiritually.  They are guilty for their ignorance – Paul speaks of ‘the hardening of their hearts’, the same idea as Romans 1:18 ‘who suppress the truth by their wickedness’.  Thus they have ‘lost all sensitivity’ (v19), losing the capacity to be shocked.  It is a matter of choice – ‘have given themselves over’.  Sinners spiral downwards, never finding satisfaction.

2. The turning point.

But ‘You…did not come to know Christ that way’ (v20).  A decisive change has taken place in these people.  They now ‘know Christ’ – describing a relationship of love and commitment (see John 17:3).  It is described further in v21 – in place of darkness and futility they have ‘the truth that is in Jesus’.  The truth has come in a person.  Through God’s revelation, ‘you heard him and were taught in him’, as we too are.  We are united to Christ by God-given faith (2:8-9) and a definitive change has taken place.  Whatever sins a Christian falls into, he is in a fundamentally different position from the unsaved – he is ‘born again’ and given a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19).  We are to live no longer in the old ways (v17).

3. Walking in light

This is the concern of the rest of the chapter and is stated in general terms in v22-24.  There are 2 aspects mentioned:

            (a).  We are to ‘put off your old self’.  There must be a decisive turning away from ‘your former way of life’.  There will still be temptations to wrestle with.  A definitive ‘putting off’ must be worked out in lifelong practice.  This may be painful, yet it must be done since all the old life offers is corruption by ‘deceitful desires’ (v22).

            (b).  We are to ‘put on the new self’.  This is the ‘clothing’ suitable for new creatures in Christ.  Conversion demands a new lifestyle, a changed direction in values, priorities, and plans.  All are to be reshaped by our relationship to Christ.  We are ‘created to be like God’, in particular ‘in true righteousness and holiness.  Salvation requires a transformed life.