Last week, we learned that we are to walk in a worthy manner.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:1-3 (ESV)
This is accomplished by growing to maturity. But how do we do that? And how does that affect our morals? In what ways should a Christian be different from a non-Christian?
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. 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. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph 4:17-24 (ESV)
Paul outlines the differences between believers and unbelievers. Why does he say that they are ignorant? Is there an area in your life where you have hardened your heart from God? Which attributes does Paul highlight for each group?
In what areas have you been successful in putting off your old self? Take a minute to thank God for those victories!
Where are you struggling with putting off your old self? Take a moment to ask God for help, and be specific. You can also ask for prayer from me or from a pastor. If you seem unable to break a particular pattern in your life, you could ask for an Accountability Partner – one who agrees to pray for you, meet with you, study with you and help you to hold yourself accountable to God for the changes you desire.
As I read this passage, verse 21 stood out. We need to be taught as the truth is in Jesus. Please be careful about who and what you listen to regarding our walk in Christ. There are many preachers on the radio and television who would give you a gospel that does not reflect the true teachings of the Bible. They pick and choose verses to create their own version of the “gospel”. Please remember that no matter who you listen to (including this writer!), you are told to:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (ESV)
And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Cor 11:12-15 (ESV)
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment. 1 Tim 6:3-6 (ESV)
(coming back on track from that short digression…)
Today we’ve been reminded that we are not to live as the world does – the lusts, greed, pride and debauchery that are often portrayed as “good” via our television and radio are contrary to what God desires for us. Is what you watch or hear having a negative or positive impact on your Christian walk? Are some television shows funny, interesting, and engrossing – but contain foul language, improper sexual relationships, and greedy living? Should we watch shows like this? If we do choose to watch them, can it help our Christian walk, and if so, how?
I have been a television free household for two years. My journey began when Pastor Stephen challenged us to fast and pray when the church needed to cover some financial needs. I chose to fast television, and in particular one show that I really liked. It was witty, intelligent, had no foul language – gut used vocabulary that was still inappropriate. I really missed that show as I began to fast. But then I stopped to really analyze why that show was important to me. I realized that for me, the show was a true stumbling block. The writers used “real words” to portray words that are usually heard as swear words. Although the show portrayed true to life characters, there was an undercurrent of sexual tension. I had to decide whether my conviction that I was not to put myself in a position to accept the world’s view of promiscuity was more important than 30 minutes every evening. It was a difficult time for me – breaking the habit of that television show – but it was oddly liberating, too. As I looked at some of the other shows I watched (I was a big fan of history oriented shows), I realized that in most cases the shows weren’t the problem – it was the commercials. I saw products portrayed in sexually suggestive manners. I saw greed. I saw … well, I decided I didn’t want to see any more.
Does that make me some kind of super-Christian? Holier-than-thou? NO CHANCE! It means that I was guided by the Holy Spirit to remove a stumbling block to my walk.
Is there something that you can “fast”, give away, take away, or look away from that will help you walk in a manner worthy of your calling? Seek God to see what He would have you do. It will be different for everyone. The key is to find out what it is for you.
See you Wednesday!