17With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.
20But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, 22throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. 23Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. 24You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true. (Ephesians 4:17-24, NLT)
Chapter 4 of Ephesians is packed with theological truths that are vitally important for followers of Christ to understand.
Paul exhorts the Ephesians to live differently by contrasting the characteristics of the ungodly versus the characteristics of those who are in Jesus.
Paul describes the ungodly as darkened in their understanding because of their hardened hearts. A person with a hardened heart is someone who has made a decision of the will to live the way they want to and this shows up in their morals – they no longer care about right and wrong and their lives are filled with “all kinds of impurity and greed”.
Does this sound familiar?
But this shouldn’t be how the Christian lives. Paul admonishes us to throw off our old evil nature and former way of life which is rotten through and through. (vs 22). So according to Paul, you’re a rotten person! (I am too).
I love how the NIV states verse 22. It says:
22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; (Ephesians 4:22, NIV)
That phrase “being corrupted” is in the present tense, which indicates an action that is ongoing. What this means is that your sinful nature is not just sinful, but it’s continuing in its corruption – it’s getting worse!
How are we to combat a sin nature that’s actually getting worse?
Paul says there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. And since the old nature is continually being corrupted, our new nature must continually be renewed!
The Christian life, contrary to what some might believe, is not a one-time decision. Yes, our decision to accept Christ as our Savior brings us forgiveness and adoption and a myriad of other spiritual blessings. It’s the start of our new life in a relationship with Christ. But to follow Christ requires a constant renewal of our thoughts and attitudes. If we neglect to do this, our sin nature will take over, and since it is being corrupted, we are at risk of living more like the ungodly than the righteous.
What areas of your life are you most likely to see as “being corrupted”?
What are some practical ways you can renew your thoughts and attitudes?
What is your reaction to the idea that the Christian life is not a “one-time” decision, but rather, it’s a daily, even moment-by-moment decision to reject ungodliness and pursue righteousness?