Ephesians 4:17-24 - Time for Change

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Message Introduction

Ephesians 4:17-24 - New in Christ (Transformation)

Key Themes

1. All people are by nature spiritually dead, transgressors of God’s law, and under the rule of Satan.

1:7; 2:1–3, 5, 11–12

2. God predestined his elect to redemption and holiness in Christ according to the free counsel of his will.

1:3–14; 2:4, 8–9

3. God’s rich mercy in Christ has saved sinners; this free gift is by grace through faith alone.

1:7–8; 2:4–14

4. Christ’s earthly work of redemption was part of his cosmic reconciliation and exaltation in this age and the next.

1:15–23; 3:1–13

5. Christ’s reconciliation entails uniting all people, whether Jew or Gentile, into his one body, the church, as a new creation.

1:23; 2:10–15; 3:1–21; 4:1–6

6. Christ’s people are renewed to new lives of holiness in thought, word, and deed, and must reject their old, sinful lifestyles.

4:1–3, 17–32; 5:1–20

7. Holiness of life entails submission to proper authorities, and loving and considerate care for those in submission.


8. Christ has given powerful gifts to his church to bring about her unity, maturity, and defense against the onslaughts of the devil and his allies.

4:7–16; 6:10–19

You have been saved by God. God saved you by grace through faith in Christ. He did that so that you would walk in the works that he prepared for you before the beginning of time. God shaped you exactly for the life that he has given you. If you are a Christian, you can look at your life in all of its sorrows or difficulties or opportunities or privileges. God has shaped you for that and giving you the circumstances that he intends for you to use as the platform in which you would glorify him, in which you would serve him, in which you would make him known. So you can gather up all of your weaknesses, all of your past failings, all of your present opportunities, the things that cause you to rejoice and the things that cause you sorrow and say, "This is the stage that God has given to me personally and uniquely for me to walk in good works." So everything about your life that has been given to you is bound up in this call, Paul says. "You walk worthily in your life in the midst of what God has given you and what you are to do in that is you are to grow. You are to develop spiritually. You are to become more like Christ in exactly what God has given you."
Now, a little pastoral interlude here. Because that's true, because God has sovereignly orchestrated every aspect of your life that you now have here today, that means 2 things and this is a whole other series of messages with what I'm about to say in 2 sentences but that means that, first of all, you can let go of all of your regret and questioning about things that happened in the past. Whatever sins or successes or whatever has brought you to this point today, today is the environment in which you find yourself that God has given you and says, "Now you grow right where you're at right now." So you can stop asking questions, "Well, what if I had done this? What if I had turned right instead of left? What if I had pursued a different career or not? What if I had married somebody else instead of the spouse that I now have?" You can forget all of that because it is irrelevant. It does not matter. You deal with life and deal with reality as you have it right now and understand that that is the stage, today is the stage that God has given you in which you are to grow in the life that he has given you. He didn't give you a different life. He doesn't want you to try to grow in a life that doesn't exist, does he? That would be foolishness. You couldn't even do that. So whatever your life is today, that is the life in which you are to grow and so you can put away the questions and put away the regrets and just say, "Okay, let's look forward," as Paul says, "forgetting the things that lie behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on to know the glory of Christ," Philippians 3. He says, "So I forget about everything that's behind. My task is to grow now and that's what I'm reaching forward to." So we have to clear out a lot of distorted thinking in order to even approach things right. - Pastor Don Green
Ephesians 4:16 ESV
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
We need to understand how God intends you to change.
So many of us wants quick fixes.
What does want us to know about spiritual growth.

Message Outline

The Way We Walk
What We Wear

Message Exposition (Two Metaphors)

The Way We Walk (Warning)

Must no longer walk (like the world)

Ephesians 4:17 ESV
17 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.


What does WALK mean?
The fact that peripateō (walk) is used here in the present tense indicates that Paul is speaking of continuous, regular action, in other words, a habitual way of life. And the fact that the verb is also in the imperative mood indicates he is not giving believers an option but a command.[1]
Action – continuous
A Way of Life – ongoing condition, lifestyle
Advancement – growth and progress

Prioritizing thinking over feelings

Mind- verse 17
Understanding - verse 18
Ignorance - verse 18
Learn - verse 20
Taught - verse 21


"The entire way that the world thinks has no purpose. It is worthless. It is fruitless. It starts from nothing. It is nothing and it leads to nothing. It is utter futility." It is a one clause summary of the entire book of Ecclesiastes, in other words. He says, "This has no purpose. Their way of thought, their philosophies, go nowhere."

Beliefs: Darkness, Ignorance, Hardness

Ephesians 4:18 ESV
18 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 are darkened in their understanding. The lights are not on. They have nothing to contribute to the discussion because they reject the most fundamental premises of truth. They reject the authority of Scripture. They reject creation of man by God. They mock Christ. They hate the call to forsake self and follow Christ. That's the mindset of the world.
"Their thinking is futile. It's worthless. It leads nowhere. I need to reject it. Why do I need to reject it? It's because it is divorced from, they think from, they teach from completely ungodly naturalistic principles that cannot explain the true meaning of life and so they have nothing that can contribute to my spiritual growth. I need to realize it for the threat to my growth that it is." It's very fundamental


But at the core of it all, they are ignorant according to Scripture. They are unregenerate. They do not know the Bible. They do not know the God of the Bible. They do not know the Christ of Scripture. They do not see the consequences of sin. Some of them would reject an increasingly, as you know, reject the very concept of an absolute truth and an absolute morality. There can't be sin if there is no absolute morality. If you're defining absolutes out of existence, then you have defined everything about our spiritual life out of existence. Whatever you think about that philosophically, realize that that has no overlap with the life of God found in the Scriptures. These men are spiritually dead. They know nothing about the true God and they like it that way and what you need to understand is that those are the principles that are framing the world in which you live.


Paul places moral culpability upon them for their ignorant, lost state. He says that unbelievers do not know God because their heart is hard like a rock. It's hard as a rock. It's steely like flint. Truth just bounces off of it with no receptivity to it at all. Here's the thing and this passage is parallel to Romans 1 that talks about how God handed people over to their sins and reflects this condition as being a judicial act of God, Romans 1 does, here is the human responsibility side of it in Ephesians 4. Paul is calling out their accountability for their condition and saying, "They are like this because they are hard. They are resistant. They are unteachable. They want nothing to do with it."
I don’t care about truth
Cannon of Scripture
Hard heart - alienated from God - Ignorance - Darkness - Futile
Refuse to hear God and refuse to submit to God
Unreconciled to God - Irreconcilable
1 John 2:15 ESV
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
James 4:4 ESV
4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Romans 8:5–8 ESV
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Behaviors: Unfeeling, Given over, Covetous and Corrupt

Ephesians 4:19 ESV
19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.


What he's saying is that unsaved people are like that morally because their rebellion and their hard heart has rubbed against the inner testimony of their conscience and their suppression has rubbed against the testimony of God, they come to a point where they don't feel the weight of it anymore. They are callous and what do they do in that calloused place? They lose the capacity to feel shame. They are hard and they go after still more

Given over

The manifestations are many and when it's all said and done, they want more of the wretchedness and you see it playing out in society around us. Let me ask you some questions here. Why is it that actors and popular musicians can just parade the grossest depravity in front of a nationally televised audience and not feel any shame over it? That which should cause them to be ashamed, they are proud of, how can that be? Why do abortion doctors casually traffic in fetal body parts while they are having a salad lunch and wine? How can they do that without being crushed by conscience and convicted? Why do college professors traffic in mental nonsense? Why do false teachers defraud their supporters and say silly things and make promises that they never could keep or intend to keep just so that people will give them money? And they do that repeatedly over and over again on television and radio, why do they do that? Why don't they stop? Why don't these people stop in their wickedness? Why do the eyes of your loved ones glaze over and they roll their eyes when once again you're trying to talk to them about Christ? Do you see that it's all a common root? It's all because they have become callous. They are hard. They don't feel it anymore and that is why they have the freedom of mind and the freedom of life to pursue all of that degraded depravity. It's because the hardness of their heart has given them over to a futile mind and now there is nothing to restrain them as they go forward to pursue the sin that they love. It's not that they need more information, beloved, they have all the information they need. The fact of the matter is that if God called the world to an end right now, everyone who is outside of Christ has more than enough guilt and shame to convict them to be punished for all of eternity. They already know enough. It all has a common root. The unsaved have no fear of God. All of those different things that we described: the professors, the abortionists, the actors, the magicians, all of it. All of it traces back to a fundamental thing that we've talked about in the past: there is no fear of God at their heart to restrain them

Covetous and Corrupt


What We Wear (Way of Hope)

True Learning

Ephesians 4:20 ESV
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—


Matthew 11:25–30 ESV
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Galatians 5:1 ESV
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Who sets us free?
The Person and Work of Christ
What are we free from?
Free from the curse of the law
Free from the curse of Adam (Romans 5:12, 17; 8:21-23)
Free from spiritual death Free from the fear of death (futility – Ecclesiastes 2:11 and terror of the unknown)
Free from condemnation (Romans 8:1, 31-34)
Free from the power of sin (Romans 6:17-18, 14)
Free from the authority of Satan (Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 2:1)
Free to inherit all that Christ has purchased for us, eternally (Galatians 4:5-7; 1 Corinthians 2:9)
What are two types the people who obscure the Cross of Christ?
Guilt ridden person
1. Knowledge
a. Know their lost condition and sinful nature (Psalm 51:3-4; Ezekiel 36:31; Romans 3:20)
b. Know God's remedy (Psalm 9: 10; Romans 10:13-17; Philippians 3:8)
2. Affection
a. Broken and Contrite heart (Psalm 51:17; Jeremiah 31:19; 2 Corinthians 7:10f)
b. Be drawn to Christ (John 4:42; 1 Thessalonians 2:13)
3. Will
a. Turn from their sinful ways (Ezekiel 14:6; Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 7:11)
b. Turn to Christ to rely alone on Him for salvation and sanctification (Acts 15:11; 16:31; Philippians 3:9)

Truth found in Jesus

Ephesians 4:21 ESV
21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,




Ministry of the Word of God

Philippians 4

New Way of Thinking and Living ( A Wholly New You)

Ephesians 4:22 ESV
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
Ephesians 4:23 ESV
23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

Renewed in your mind

“Your spiritual diet will determine your spiritual health” - David Strain

Ephesians 4:24 ESV
24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Righteousness - relationships with people
Holiness - relationship with God

The Gospel in Ephesians 4:20-24

4:20 When we embraced Christ and received him, it was not to continue on in the same futile ways of thinking. If our lives do not differ from the lives of unbelievers, we have not truly learned of Christ. When Christ calls us to himself it is always a call to leave the world, die to self, and live for God. Let us never accept a false gospel which says we can have Jesus as Savior without also having him as Lord. It must be both or neither.

4:22–24 What does it look like, then, to have genuinely “learned Christ”? Paul mentions three things (using three infinitive verbs). Learning Christ means we are renewed in the spirit of our minds (v. 23), we put off the old self (v. 22), and we put on the new (v. 24). These exhortations get to the heart of the New Testament view of sanctification. The moral imperative for the Christian is to “be who you now are.” We are new creations in Christ, so let us turn away from the old ways of the world and live like new people of the Spirit. When we sin, we betray our new identity as sons and daughters of God. Our obedience does not create our holy status but reflects it, honors God by it, and aids others through our expression of it.

Discussion Questions

What new thoughts have you had since reading and studying the passage or from hearing James’s message?
What verse from this passage will you commit to meditate on and memorizing this week? Write it down. Share it with others.

Bringing It Home

Pondering the Passage:

What is the main point of the passage?


What did I learn?
Where has my thinking, beliefs, and values been challenged in this passage?
Do I find any of the characteristics ways of thinking or behaving of the ungodly in my life?
List and describe those areas in which I struggle.


What does this passage teach me about God?
Has my thinking about God changed?
How have I learned to love God more and others selflessly as a result of this passage?
Have I learned ways that I have acted unlovingly towards others that I must change?


What are the practical steps that I can take to apply to what I have learned in this passage?
Where must I change?
What do I need to repent and confess?
How will pondering and personalizing this passage change how I live my life today and moving forward?

Praying the Passage (ACTS)

What specific things can I pray adoring God because of what I learned in this passage?
What specific things do I need to confess based on what I learned from this passage?
What specific things do I need to thank God for based on what I learned from this passage?
What specific things do I need to request in prayer (supplication) based on what I learned from this passage?
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