April 26, 2018
This week at youth group, we spent the evening both enjoying the sun with some volleyball, and enjoying scripture and fellowship as we took a look at Ephesians 4:17-32. Paul is following up his encouragement of the Ephesians to “live in a manner worthy of their calling” (4:1) by giving them clear instruction on how they ought to live. As with all commands in scripture, we need to come to them with the foundation of grace… following commands does not make us Christians, being saved by grace does. It’s the grace of the Lord that then leads us to humble obedience.
First, Paul starts in 4:17-19 by reminding the Ephesians that they no longer live as the Gentiles, who are futile in thinking, and have hardened hearts and corrupted consciences. We talked for a while about what it means to have hardened hearts, and that we can go against our consciences so frequently that we become completely numb to sin. It’s gravely serious, and Paul talks about it frequently in his letters (Hebrews 3:12-13 “If today you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts)! After this reminder, Paul exhorts the Ephesians with the truth that they are no longer the old, but made completely new creations in Christ Jesus! Therefore, they should put off the old, and put on the new, with a new attitude of mind. We spent a lot of time talking about how our actions start with our thoughts. If our mind is on futile (pointless) things, then our actions will likely follow. So, God renews our minds by His grace, and gives us a new self that’s now miraculously capable of follow Him in thought, and in action. Lastly, we ended on how this practically looks, as Paul lists many commands for the Ephesians in 4:25-32. The gist is that our actions should, and will follow our thoughts.
As Paul says in 4:30, we should not grieve the Spirit of God. We ended by reiterating that we’ve been made new in Christ, and that because we’re new, created to be Holy, God cares deeply when we choose to follow the deceitfulness of sin rather than the pleasures forevermore in Christ. We fleshed these things out as we talked in small group, and rested on the fact that as we strive to live like Christ, we’re Justified not in part by Him, but in whole.