Does following Jesus mean following a list of dos and don’ts? The apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Ephesus, urged them “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1). He then gives some clear instructions for Christian living. As Paul explained, it was much more than just checking off items on a spiritual “to-do list.”
Today’s passage contrasts the Ephesian believers’ life before they knew Christ with how they now lived. “What is immediately worthy of note is the apostle’s emphasis on the intellectual factor in everybody’s way of life,” John Stott observes. “While describing pagans, he draws attention to the futility of their thinking, adds that they are darkened in their understanding and attributes their alienation from God to the ignorance that is in them.”
As Christ followers, the Ephesians had to learn to think differently. The Christian way of life that Paul outlines in verses 22–24 flows out of three critical resolutions. First, a believer determines to put off the old self (v. 22). When we follow Christ, we resolve to change. Second, we learn to think differently (v. 23). We learn how Christ expects His followers to live, but it isn’t just up to us to do the work. This renewal is done in us by God’s Spirit. Third, a believer must take steps to put this new learning into practice. Verse 24 characterizes this as putting on “the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” We learn more about what this new self looks like in verses 25–32. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but it is a good starting point.
>> Paul is not simply swapping out the old law for a new one. The believer becomes a “new self, created to be like God” (v. 24). The Christian life is not just a matter of dos and don’ts. When we are in Christ, we learn to think differently.
Oh Lord, what joy when we experience the transformation that You promise in Christ. When we look back on ourselves a year ago—or a decade—we are amazed by the ways You have changed our thinking and doing. Thank You!