Monthly Archives: February 2015

Ephesians – Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – Looking for Love in All of the Wrong Places

Ephesians 5:4-6 

Ephesians 5:4-6 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Before us today is one of the most pertinent scriptures of our day and of our times. In the last several decades, we have seen an explosion of immoral attitudes and mindsets that would cause past generations to blush with embarrassment. Today, we are dealing with open and perverse sexuality in our generation. We are seeing homosexuality and lesbianism being accepted as a normal way of life. To date, most states in America have accepted gay marriage as the new norm. We are now seeing a move toward the acceptance of transgender issues where we no longer have to accept the way we were created but we can choose our gender. And we can choose that gender on the basis of how we feel on any particular day. The list of sexual issues and sexual promiscuity goes on and on.

We may gasp at this, and rightfully so, but this phenomena is nothing new. The Roman Empire experienced similar shifts in morality and the cultural acceptance of perverted morals. Some studies have shown that one of the major causes for the fall of Rome, in the early 400’s, was the moral decay of the society. The actions of our current society also remind us of the days of Noah where everyone with the exception of Noah had been perverted by the acceptance of immoral lifestyles. As the Bible puts it, “all flesh had corrupted their way.”

As we look at this passage, we must do so in the context of Paul’s previous statements. In this text, Paul continues to show us what we need to to put off and what we need to put on as a passionate follower of Christ. In this particular passage, Paul delineates those things that are in opposition to the ways of God and those things that must not be allowed to permeate who we are. When we are obedient to these things with the right mindset and with the right heart, these actions do not steal our joy nor do they bind us but rather they give us life, peace, and contentment.

It is crucial in this passage that we do not just see what is prohibited but we need to see why these things are to prohibited. You see, if we don’t recognize the why, we will miss the power and relevance of the gospel. Without the gospel, these prohibitions become the letter of that kills instead of the Spirit that gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). It simple becomes something we do rather than something we become.

So with that said lets look at this passage. Paul begins by making the proclamation that sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking. What Paul is saying is that as passionate followers of Christ we must live differently. We must act differently. We must be pure and holy in our lifestyles.

In the first part of the verse, Paul defines three actions that must be dealt with in the believer’s life. The first action is the avoidance of “sexual immorality.” This is a broad term for sexual sin and covers all sin and all sexual impurity. The King James Version uses the term “fornication” which primarily has been used for sex before marriage. However, the actually meaning of the term relates to more than sex before marriage and includes any sexual act that is opposed to God’s will and purpose. In the original Greek, the term included premarital sex, extramarital affairs, incest, and any act opposed to the worship of God. Too often we try to narrow the scope of the definition so that we do not accept our fault or sin in an issue.

The second action to be avoided is “all impurity.” By using the term all impurity, Paul, in essence, expands the idea of sexual immorality to include anything that is contrary to God’s intent for godly living. This impurity has a direct correlation to those things that exist when society replaces God with the creature and/or the creation. When society does this, man exchanges that which is natural for that which is unnatural and perverse. The idea presented by “all impurity” is that the whole personality has been infected by moral impurity. The heart is sick and needs to be redeemed.

The third action defined by Paul is “covetousness.” Covetousness is the unbalanced desire to get what one cannot have. It is a strong, inordinate craving. It is an inability to be content and satisfied with the necessities of life and ministry. It may be a inordinate drive for money and success, or it can be a craving for sex outside of the boundaries established by God. In terms of sexual greed, it refers to the desire for self-gratification at the expense of others. We satisfy our needs regardless of the desire or need of the other person. This action is not an example of love and concern for others, as it is opposed to God’s plan for our life. This is in opposition to Paul’s call to walk in love in verse one of Ephesians. To follow after these things is to look for love in all of the wrong places.

The first three terms in this passage deal with the actions of the passionate follower of Christ, the last three terms deal with the speech of the passionate follower of Christ. Paul uses a string of terms filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking to define the kinds of things that the passionate follower of Christ must put off.

The term “filthiness” in the original Greek was a term used for “ugliness” and “deformity.” It is that kind of language that should not be used by believers. The term focuses on the crude and sinful behavior that attempts to legitimatize those sinful acts prohibited by God. We joke and make light of sin as we jest. The second term is the word “foolish talk.” The term refers to that kind of talk that detracts from the elements of faith and spiritual growth. Rather than edifying others and God, it is destructive and harmful to others. It tears down, instead of building up. The third term is “crude joking.” The term means sarcastic ridicule. It refers to joking that has gone too far. It is language that crosses the line and pushes the other person to embarrassment and thus diminishes the other person. It often begins as humor but there is a point that it crosses the line of acceptability and becomes unholy sarcasm.

So why does Paul deal with these things? He does so because he believes that in order to imitate God we must deal with these things in our lives. So how do we do this? What are the steps we can take to begin to change our hearts and our lives?

First, we must immerse ourselves in the word of God in order to understand what God values and what He establishes as the norm. Our reaction to these things is measured by God’s will and not by society’s norm. By immersing ourselves in God’s Word, we are not only instructed in how to live, but we are encouraged and motivated to do so.

Second, develop a grateful heart. Be content in what you have. Find ways to express thanksgiving to your spouse and others so that the enemy of our souls does not have the opportunity to plant opposing thoughts and ideas in our hearts. Gratitude has a way of expelling evil thoughts and mindsets. Gratitude has a way of healing the wandering eye that thinks that the grass is greener on the other side. Gratitude has a way of quieting the covetous heart.

Third, let your words means something. Remove empty thinking and empty talking from your life. The writer of Proverbs stated that even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Think before you speak. When you do speak, speak life. Speak truth. Communicate hope.

Fourth, remember that we must continually put on the new man, which means we constantly take off the old man. We must continually search our soul, mind, and heart to see how we line up with God’s will and His purpose. When we recognize an issue in our life, we must immediately deal with it and not allow time to pass before we must deal with the negative action in our life.

Fifth, we must rely on the Holy Spirit who empowers us to overcome these issues and to live out God’s will and purpose in our life. The Holy Spirit will lead us to truth. The Holy Spirit will purify our minds and hearts so that we are guided and directed by the Word of God and the ways of God.

Sixth, walk in repentance. Repentance is a change of the way we think. Change your thinking and your walk will be changed. What you meditate on you will become. Repentance opens the door to begin thinking rightly so that your thinking begins to change who you are.

One last thing that is not on a slide but it is just as critical. Don’t isolate yourself. Stay in fellowship with like minded believers.

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Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Ephesians – What is Love?

Peninsula Community Church

February 15, 2015

Ephesians – What Is Love?

Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

As we look at these verses we find that Paul presents two specific commands for the passionate follower of Christ to obey. First, we are to “be imitators of God, and secondly we are to “walk in love.” By accomplishing these things we will be positioned for a changed outlook on life and to accomplish great things for God.

The first command Paul gives us is to be imitators of God. How is this accomplished? Paul answers this question by stating that we are to imitate Christ as beloved children. Someone has said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We flatter others when we imitate them. It is a compliment, or at least most of the times it is.

When our kids were small, one of the games they loved to play was copycat. Normally it was Josh who would begin to copy everything his sister would do. He would repeat her words and her actions. It usually started off as being a fun thing, but usually it ended in one of them getting angry at the other person because the doing the mimicking did not know when to stop. Of course, we are not talking about that kind of imitation but about the kind of imitation that brings out the best in us.

The derivative of the word “imitator” is the same word we get the English word “mime.” It is noteworthy to understand that a mime tells a story by their actions and not their words. We too must consider imitating Christ more by our actions than by what we say. Too often, the criticism leveled at Christians is that we say one thing but we do another. It is sad that this is the truth so many times. This is called hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the idea of wearing a mask so as not to expose one’s true identity. But as imitators of God, we are called to genuine, real, and authentic lives that are focused on God’s will and His character. We are not to be posers or players, but real authentic imitators of truth.

The fact is, we begin to imitate those we hang out with. To imitate God, we must know God. We must hang out with God so to speak. We must know His ways. We must know His acts. We must know His will. We must know His character. Have you ever been with someone so long that you begin to act like them? It is funny but you begin to talk like them and you mimic them without even thinking. You know how it goes. Suddenly, you say or do something that is so much like that other person that you have to laugh in the moment.

Remember the cigarette commercial that was popular a number of years ago. We see the father and son doing things throughout the day. They are washing the car together. They are driving in the car together. In each scene you watch as the son mimics the father. And in the last scene we see the father leaning against a tree, pulling out a pack of cigarettes and then lighting up. As the father places the pack of cigarettes on the ground next to him, his son reaches over and picks up the pack. Watch the video with me.

While we are to be imitators of God, Paul is clear that it is the beloved children of God who are called and empowered to imitate God. I feel I need to make a point here that may not go well with some, but it needs to be made. We are all a creation of God but we are not all His children. There is a false perception that we are all His children regardless of our spiritual condition. We miss the mark if we do not believe that His only children are those who have asked Christ into their hearts by seeking the forgiveness that comes through confession and repentance in Jesus’ name. That is why the Bible uses terms like adoption and being born again to characterize our salvation.

It is important to note that the word used in the Greek for children is the word TEKNA, which deals more with the relationship between the parent and the child rather than the age of the child. It is also noteworthy that this word also relates to an only child whose parents have been able to devote their full attention to the child. So here is the point that could be made. We can be imitators of God because it is God who works out his plan of salvation in us and because He treats each of us as if we are the only child He has. Now before you get too giddy or excited, the fact is, while He treats us as if we were the only one, He treats us all that way. We are all His favorites.

So then, as we are in relationship with God as His beloved children, we begin to imitate God. As we get to know Him, we will begin to act more like Him. Someone has said that the best way to raise kids is give them time, because in giving them time, they learn who you are and what you are about.

So how do we get to know God? We get to know God through prayer. We get to know God through Bible reading and study. We get to know God through fellowship with Him. We get to know God through fellowship with others. We get to know God through the circumstances of life. Here is the fact that cannot be denied. Without a relationship with Him, we cannot be the imitators we need to be. You see we cannot imitate what we do not know. We cannot be like Him unless His nature is in us. One of the problems, today, is that people try to live like Christ without having the nature of Christ in them. The result is they attempt to live without the power that comes from a personal relationship with Him.

The second command presented by Paul is that we are not only to imitate God, but we are to walk in love as Christ loved us. Notice the verbiage used. I think it is critical. Paul does not say run in his love. He does not say skip in his love. He says to walk. To walk means that it is a solid and constant pace. It is a journey for the long haul. It is not hit and miss. There is a constancy in the walk we should have on this journey. When the term walk was used in the Hebrew language it was most often used to define the entirety of one’s life. So we need a consistent walk that encompasses everything we do. As passionate followers of Christ, the defining quality and characteristic of our walk must be love.

As imitators of God, we don’t just talk about His love, we walk it out through our daily life. We live it and we express it in all we do. We don’t just tell people about our love, we show it. We must walk in love and make it real. The words of Paul challenge us to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  That is a powerful command. When we recognize and understand the magnitude of God’s love for us, we can begin to live out this love in a new found way. Let’s look at God’s love for a moment.

First of all, it is a costly love. God gave his only son to die on our behalf to redeem us from our sin and shame. When we walk in the love of God, we will give ourselves on behalf of others. Christ gave all of himself for us. He gave himself willingly upon the cross for the forgiveness of our sin. He died so we could live. He was broken so we could be restored and put back together. He bled out, so we could be healed and forgiven. He did this for me and He did it for you.

Think about this love for a moment. Christ endured the shame, the rejection of His brothers, the beatings, the brutality of the cross for each one of us. Jesus proclaimed in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The fact is if you were the only person alive, He would have given Himself just for you. He gave so that “whosoever” could have eternal life and could experience His love (John 3:16). He gave Himself as if you were that only child who needed redemption.

Paul also states that God’s love is like a fragrant offering and sacrifice. The idea of fragrance could be viewed as either a bad thing or a good thing but in the context of this passage it is a welcoming and inviting fragrance. It does not repulse but but it attracts. The love of God draws people to God. They may reject the message but they cannot reject the love that is given. For that reason, it is possible to give love even to the unlovable. Why, because it is a sacrifice. We sacrifice ourselves for those who are unlovable by choosing to love those who are not worthy of our love. We show God’s love by extending to others the same grace and forgiveness that God has shown to us. Why? It is because everyone we encounter needs us to express love to them.

The balance of Ephesians chapter 5 is Paul’s teaching on how to live out this real authentic love. In the next few verses he denotes that we can look for love in all the wrong places and therefore can develop a distorted view of God’s love. He deals with the marriage relationship. He deals with the employer/employee relationship. You see love is a choice to do what is right. It is not a only a feeling although there are feelings associated with it. When there are no feeling, we must choose to love regardless. We choose to show love when our feelings are screaming at us to do something totally different. That is God’s unconditional love and that is God’s call of love to us.

So what is love? It is God’s unconditional, life saving grace given to all who will receive it.

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Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom


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Ephesians – The Actions of a Passionate Follower of Christ

Peninsula Community Church

February 8, 2015

Ephesians – The Actions of a Passionate Follower of Christ

Ephesians 4:25-32 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 

In our message last week, we talked about putting off the old man and putting on the new man as we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds each day. This week, Paul takes an additional step to detail the actions that a passionate follower of Christ should take. As one puts on the new man, change begins to take place. One’s personal, emotional, mental, and relational life begins to change and what is revealed is a different attitude about life and ministry. So what are the actions of a converted man? Let’s look at these together.

First, Paul states that having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. So the first step, as a passionate follower of Christ, is to “put away falsehood.” This is a biggie for Paul and it ought to be a biggie for us. I do not think that it is an accident that Paul begins with this action. Truthfulness is key to living the life of a passionate follower of Christ. The word used here for “lie” is the word “psuedo.” It means anything that is false or counterfeit. Therefore, it is important to note that this idea of falsehood is more than simply telling a lie. It relates to that which is not real or genuine. You see the old man works in deception, but as a new creation in Christ, we must live in honesty and truthfulness.

Putting away falsehood begins by speaking the truth with our neighbor. This begs the question then as in it did in the gospels, “Who is my neighbor?” The answer comes from Jesus’ own words when he presented the parable of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbor is the one that needs mercy. That includes everyone we encounter. The greatest level of mercy we can show is to be truthful in all we do; especially in our actions and in the words we speak.

Secondly, Paul calls for us to be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. In other words, we must deal with our anger in a timely manner. Notice here that the issue is not if we can be angry but on how we deal with our anger that matters most. This is critical because the principle dealt with is that if our anger is not dealt with in a timely manner, it opens the door for the devil to have access to our hearts and to our way of thinking.

The Greek word used for “sin” means to “miss the mark.” You see when we allow anger to control us, our thinking becomes distorted to the point that we can miss the target of God’s way of living. We respond with hatred and bitterness which has deadly outcomes. When we refuse to deal with our anger and we dwell on what others have done to us, our hearts can be filled with malice and bitterness. An angry heart will dictate how we will respond to things in our lives. The reason is that becomes the filter through which everything must go. The fact is when anger is not dealt with, it grows and becomes a monster that controls us. When this occurs, we have in essence opened a door for the devil to control our lives and create more problems.

Third, Paul calls passionate followers of Christ to do honest work. Here is what he said. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Notice that he calls for the thief not to steal any more. He makes this statement in the context of having a great work ethic that is based in honesty. Notice too that he states that the work should be done by our hands.

Paul makes the case here that there is a blessing in working. What is the blessing of working? It is so that we can help others. In being blessed, we become a blessing to others. We can give to the church. We can give to those in need. We can help provide what another cannot provide for themselves. The goal is to assist those in need so they can begin to work. So in doing honest work we are blessed beyond measure.

Fourth, watch your language. Paul says Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. When I was a teenager in church this text was always used as a ban on cursing or swearing but that is not the exact context of this passage. In fact I believe this interpretation misses Paul intent. Paul’s intent was to communicate to the passionate follower of Christ that we should not allow destructive conversations to be a part of our dialogue. Course or destructive talking limits God’s grace in our communication by tearing others down and at times tears them apart. The focus of all of our conversation must be on building others up and not tearing them down. We have been called to be ministers of grace to those who deserve and to those who do not. It should also be noted that there are those who are watching how we handle ourselves. We may not even converse with them and yet they are witnessing grace or a lack of grace being poured out.

Fifth, do not grieve the Holy Spirit. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. This verse suggests that we should avoid grieving the Holy Spirit by actions that tear down rather than build up. We grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not live according to Biblical principles and guidelines established in God’s word. The Holy Spirit is a person and can be grieved when we live outside the parameters that God has established for us. When we live according to the commands of God, we please the Holy Spirit and He is free to work on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is grieved because He sees the potential that is ours to succeed and accomplish great things for God. This is similar to what a mother or father experiences with their children. Paul also states that this is the same Holy Spirit that sealed us for redemption. There is nothing that can rip that from us when walk in a heart filled with repentance.

Sixth, control your inward thoughts. The list of issues here relate to the inner issues of the soul. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. This passage relates back to the original idea of anger but magnifies the outcome of a one who does not seek to control their anger. Look at the words Paul used here. Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander. These are all outcomes of a life where anger has taken control of the heart and spirit of the individual. That is not the life that God wants for us.

Seventh, guard your outward example. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Rather than respond to people and issues with bitterness, wrath, anger or malice we should respond in an opposite spirit and attitude. The measure or level of kindness and forgiveness to be extended to others is measured by how much we have been forgiven through Christ. The measure of the effectiveness of these actions is measured by the forgiveness given to us by God. When we understand the magnitude of forgiveness and how much we have received from God, we should be so ready to enact these things in our life.

As we share these things, I am keenly aware that we falter and fail in accomplishing all of these things at different times in our journey. But that is the beauty of Christ’s forgiveness and His love to us. When we fail, He is gracious to receive us back to Himself. His hand is always extended. It is much like the story of the prodigal son who realizes that life back home was not so bad. Upon this revelation he picked himself up and returned home to a miraculous welcome. He never expected what he received. He would have been content to serve as a slave but instead the father rolled out the red carpet for him because he was his son and he belonged with the family. So when we fail or fall short in the items listed here, we can press on because God is waiting for us at the end of the driveway. He is looking for us to return. He has the robe for us to wear. He has the ring to place on our finger. He lives for forgiveness and so should we.

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Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Ephesians – What You Think Will Determine What You Become

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – “What You Think will Determine What you Become.” 

February 1, 2015

Ephesians 4:17-24 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

In the passage before us, today, Paul contrasts the old way of living with the new way of living. Paul uses the art of contrast to compare our thought process prior to accepting Christ and our thought process after accepting Christ. It is for that reason that I have entitled this message “What You Think Will Determine What You Become.”

Paul begins with the proclamation that the church of Ephesus was not to walk as the Gentiles were walking. Please note that the term “Gentiles” was mostly used in the New Testament to denote those who had not accepted Christ as their personal Savior and those who had rejected Christ. Paul was not antiGentile, he was simple using their lifestyle, which was well known to the Jews and those new to Christianity, as an example of how not to live. To clarify this, Paul lists the key issues that defined the Gentiles way of life in order to contrast their way of life with the life of one who is a passionate follower of Christ.

The Gentile way of life or the old way of life is characterized by certain qualities which need to be reviewed to understand what is revealed in a life not focused on Christ. The first quality to be considered is that the Gentiles were futile in their minds. This futility of mind led to a darkening of their heart and of their understanding. The result was an alienation from God. In other words, rather than being a friend of God and being in right relationship with God, the Gentile thinking caused division which set individuals in a position of being enemies of God and in being disenfranchised in their relationship with God. Alienation is probably the most difficult outcome of a life not focused on Christ. Alienation has been defined as the state or experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved. Spiritually, this affects our fellowship with God and with one another. It affects our peace. It affects our hope. It is affects our vision for life. It affects everything we do and say.

As we read this passage, we cannot help but hear the echoes of Romans chapter one. Paul in writing to the Romans confirmed that a failure to honor God in one’s thinking and in one’s way of living leads one to futility, darkened hearts, and loose lifestyles. What is exposed here, in these two portions of Scripture (Romans 1 & Ephesians 4), is the pattern of a downward spiral that is initiated when one fails to acknowledge God and the truth of God in their lives. How does this process begin? It begins with a rejection of God or at least it begins with an obstinance against the will of God and the purposes of God. The hardness of one’s heart leads to the darkness of one’s mind, which leads to the deadness of one’s soul, which finally leads to a total loss of control in other aspects of one’s life.

To better understand this process, let’s look at two of the words used by Paul. These words are  “futility” and “hardened.” The word futility means empty. It means to be void of understanding and of godly wisdom. A second word here is darkness which results in a hardened heart. The problem is that a hardened heart prevents the penetration of God’s word into our lives. The result is defective reasoning capabilities. In other words, the one who has been hardened cannot process that which is right or that which is reasonable. In essence, the result is that one does not care about life and so they begin to live a kind of moral purposelessness.

The idea portrayed here is that of one who has hardened arteries and the blood flow becomes restricted to and from the heart and/or brain. The result is that life giving oxygen is not allowed to travel to the vital organs which are negatively affected in ways that are not always readily revealed or noticeable. If not corrected, the passageway can become totally blocked causing a heartache or stroke depending on the point of blockage.

The callousness and hardness of one’s heart results in the removal of any boundaries to guide them and to protect them. Additionally, they become greedy to the point that nothing satisfies them. Money, sex, drugs, and fame never satisfy the individual in such a state. They need more and more to try and satisfy their desires and the longing of their physical and emotional desires. They gain more, but they are not satisfied which requires gaining more which satisfies less and then they want to gain more, only to find that they continue to be dissatisfied. It is a vicious cycle of wanting, getting, and not being satisfied. This continues until one is cut off from God’s supply and from His presence.

I love the language here in this passage because it provides a turning point and opens the door to hope. Paul says the Gentiles use to live this way but this is not the way you have been taught. What Paul is saying is that you have been taught differently so you now have the opportunity to live differently and to live life to the fullest. As believers, we have a different set of paradigms that now guide and direct our steps. In Paul’s writings to the church at Corinth, he emphatically proclaims that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Here is a fact that is indisputable whether we truly grasp the truth of it or not. We are new creations. We look different. We act different. We live different. We think different.

Paul expands this idea by stating that while we are a new creation in Christ, we must also recognize that we are called to put off the old man which belongs to the old life and the old man is corrupted through its deceitful desires. The visual is of one who is wearing old tattered garments which have been stained by soil and dirt that life has dished out. These garments are filthy.

The old man or self is defined by two descriptive phrases. The first phrase is that of the former way of life. This is the life that has been described here thus far. It is a life that is lived in futility and darkness. The second phrase defines the old way of living as being motivated and corrupted by way of one’s deceitful desires. In other words, the whole basis of their previous way of life was founded in a weak or misguided paradigm. The motivation of their actions was from a basis of their deceitful desires which comes from their hardened hearts and darkened understanding.

Two actions which require a response are presented here. First, we must be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Once again this scripture echoes Romans 12:1-2 where Paul challenges the church to be transformed by the renewing of one’s mind. This is a daily ongoing process of renewal. It involves daily Bible reading. It involves daily meditation on what God is saying to the church. It is taking action on those Biblical truths we learn and begin to understand.

The second challenge is to put on the new man which is created after the likeness of God. The concept presented here is that we get to enjoy ongoing renewal. What does this renewal look like, it looks a lot like God. You see we are commanded to put on the new self which is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. How is the new self created like God? We are like God in terms of being created in righteousness and holiness.

Here is the point being made. By taking off the old man and putting on the new man, we begin to be conformed to the image of Christ. What image is that? It is in the likeness of God in righteousness and holiness. From the beginning of time, man was created in the likeness of God. We see this in Genesis 1:26. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Paul in Romans 12:1 also reminds us that we are being transformed into His image and not being conformed to the world’s image. There is a huge difference between the two. We choose to focus on one or the other. Do you choose conformity or transformation?

So how are you doing? What are you wearing? What are you thinking? It makes a difference. The putting on and taking off process is an ongoing process. When we are motivated to live or act as we did before Christ, we can take off that soiled garment and put a new garment that is fashioned and formed after the image of Christ. We remove the filthy garments and put on the garments that speak to our new identity and way of living. That is Paul’s goal in these verses.

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Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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