I don’t know if anyone else’s parents used this figure of speech, but mine did. I’ve heard it enough to know it’s been around awhile. Put plainly, it simply communicates to children, “Stop whatever you’re doing that is wrong… IMMEDIATELY! …And do what is right!”
In my Bible reading this morning the Apostle Paul almost used those exact words…
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles [i.e. the unconverted] do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus! You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17–24)
Several things stood out to me as I read this passage this morning…
- We are saved FROM our sinful past … our “freedom” should never be distorted to mean we can go on sinning! (check out Galatians 5.1, 13; Romans 6.1-2 and 1 Peter 2.16)
- Christianity is counter-cultural: Our lives as Christians should stand out in stark contrast to the sinful values and practices of the prevailing culture… Not in a “holier-than-thou” way but in a loving, humble, redemptive way (but with conviction!).
- Verses 20-22 emphasize the importance of discipleship! The Church (its spiritual leaders and fellow Christians) have a responsibility to help new Christians learn how to live the Christian life (it’s values, principles and practices). In these verses Paul reminds the Christians in the area of Ephesus, “You were not discipled to go on living like those who do not know the Lord … put off the old self – put on the new!!”