In Ephesians 4:17-32 Paul encourages us to live as children of light. He implores us to put off our old way of living and truly follow Christ in the way we live.
This passage has three main sections and a motivational reason to live this way.
1. Don’t live like non believers
This may seem obvious, but we should not live like non believers. In verses 17-19 it describes gentiles as people who wander far from God, have hardened hearts, have closed minds, live for lustful pleasure, have no sense of shame and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
2. Put on the new nature
Verse 20-24 says these things are not what knowing and following Christ is all about. Verses 23-24 says, “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy”.
In these first two sections we see real contrasts of living the worldly way without God and living the way God wants us to live. He wants us to live with a new attitude with the new nature that leads to righteousness and holiness.
3. Practical things to put off
The next section verses 25-31 talks about some practical things to put off. Here we see some real measurable things. They are things that we can reflect on to see how we are going at the moment.
- Stop telling lies to our neighbours (v25)
- Don’t let anger control the way we live and respond (v26-27)
- Don’t steal, but work hard (v28)
- Don’t use foul or abusive speech (v29)
Verse 31 emphasizes this when it says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior”.
What is our motivation to do this?
Our motivation to live as children of the light in this passage is so we don’t bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit. Verse 30a says, “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live”. It should motivate us to live right as the Holy Spirit dwells within us.
There really are two ways to live. For the Christian it is about putting off the old worldly ways, and putting on the new nature by allowing the Holy Spirit to renew our hearts and minds.