How Should We Now Live?

June 28, 2020 – Ephesians 4.17 – 24 – Pastor Cliff Bergman

Several years ago Beverley and I were visiting some friends of ours, Dan and Christel, from Small Town, Saskatchewan, less than half the size of Pinawa. They shared with us a fascinating experience they had just had. It began with a trip to Saskatoon where they planned to meet Dan’s sister, Vi, at a restaurant. As always, Dan and Christel arrived at the restaurant ahead of time and waited for Vi. That’s when things became fascinating. When she arrived, Dan didn’t recognize her, Christel had to persuade him it was really her. In disbelief, he replied, “It can’t be; that’s not how she looks!” What Dan didn’t know was that the Saskatoon Star Phoenix had a contest inviting women to enter to be chosen to have a complete makeover – they called it, The Beautiful You, contest. Well, you know who won it that year. Businesses in the city provided their services and products at no cost to create a “Beautiful You.” It not only involved a new wardrobe and hairdo, but orthodontic work, cosmetic surgery, laser treatments, the works, every imaginable procedure, and perhaps a few more. When Dan and Christel showed us the after picture of Vi, whom we also knew, I could understand why Dan didn’t recognize her.

The business of complete makeovers isn’t a new concept; it began with God transforming people into the image of Christ.

Romans 8:29 (ESV) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

There is, however, a major difference from the Star Phoenix makeover.  While it began with the external, God begins with the internal, the very center of our being. He begins with people who are spiritually dead, who are held in the grip of sin, and have no means of escape. God intervened by sending His Son Jesus Christ to earth where He clothed Himself with humanity so He would qualify as an acceptable sacrifice for sin. Having paid the price for sin, Jesus Christ invites everyone, irrespective of age, background, ethnicity, religion, education, social standing, or race to repent of their sins and place their faith and trust in Him for redemption. Those who hear the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation, and believe in Jesus, (Eph 1.13) are born-again. They become new creations as Scripture says,

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

If anyone reading this hasn’t turned to Jesus in repentance and placed his/her trust in Jesus and His offer of salvation by grace alone, through faith, don’t delay. Do so today! It is the most critical decision you will make in your entire life.

Most of you placed your faith and trust in Jesus as your Hope years ago and you have a  personal relationship with Him. Having done so, the question that confronts all Christians is, “How should we now live?” How should we conduct ourselves? What should we do, and not do? Answering the question, “How should we now live?” is at the forefront of the second half of Ephesians. As well, a great deal of attention is given to it throughout the entire Bible. Chapter 4 of Ephesians begins with the appeal to walk in a manner worthy of calling to which we have been called. It is an appeal to become on the outside what we have become on the inside when we were saved by grace alone. As Christians, we are in-Christ, which includes being given every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. Remember, we are God’s inheritance. Hence, the obvious conclusion is that we should conduct ourselves in a manner that mirrors who we are. That of course raises the question, “What does that look like in our daily lives?

Critical to getting the right answer is turning to the right source for direction. If you are travelling in a city you are unfamiliar with and you get lost looking for a specific business, and you have exhausted your map, and your GPS isn’t helping, you begin to look for someone on the street who may know. If the person you ask is also lost, you pass, and look for someone who is familiar with the city and who knows. So it is in our search for the answer to, “How should we now live?

Reminiscent of Psalm 1, Ephesians begins with where we ought not look for direction.

I. Don’t Pattern Yourself After The World (Eph 4.17- 19)

Ephesians 4:17 (ESV) 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.

Particularly if you were saved as an adult, your inclination is to continue following much of the same pattern you did before you were saved. But even if saved as a child, we all possess a sinful nature which we must contend with until we get to heaven. As a result, our natural inclination is toward wrong thinking and behavior. We inevitably are drawn to much of what we see around us as a pattern to follow. It is no wonder then that living in a manner that pleases the Lord and conforms to the image of Jesus Christ requires intentionality and steadfastness.

The pattern we must look to for direction is not the Gentiles, which is representative of those who are not followers of Jesus Christ, or as often stated elsewhere, the world. Consequently, the world around us is unreliable to turn to for direction. We are given three reasons why we should not pattern ourselves after the Gentiles, or the world.

1. They Have Futile Minds

The word used here suggests a mind that is empty, vain, pointless, deceptive. That doesn’t mean such a person cannot, or does not, possess any worthwhile knowledge on any subject. Rather the focus here is on the topic of the relationship of a believer to God and what that looks like in practice. The fact of the matter is, the world, or unsaved people have little to offer in that regard because they are spiritually dead. 1 Corinthians 1 describes the wisdom of the world as foolishness.

Our passage in Ephesians goes on to expand on why we shouldn’t look to the world for direction. Their futile minds are also described as darkened in their understanding.

Ephesians 4:18 (ESV) 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.

Very simply they are unable to understand or comprehend spiritual things. It is beyond them. Every so often I engage in conversations where I try to explain to someone how something works by providing the science behind it. Sometimes, I am met with a deer in the headlights kind of stare and I know my listener doesn’t understand a word I am saying. That is where the world is at when it comes to addressing life through a spiritual lens; it is a different language to them.

Further, the world is hard hearted and callous. That occurs over the course of time through repetitive rejection of opportunities to explore life from a spiritual perspective. Every opportunity that is ignored, further entrenches a rejection and dismissal of the truth. When someone becomes callous or hard hearted, he/she becomes impervious and unreceptive to even think about the spiritual dimension of life.

The point is, when looking for guidance on how we should now live as Christians, the world does not offer any worthwhile and reliable assistance. Turning to the world for direction on how we should live as Christians, would be like planning on wiring your house and turning to someone for insight into how to do it who had no knowledge or interest in electricity, or the electrical code, no experience in wiring, and didn’t understand the questions you had, let alone know their answers.

Patterns on how to live begin with one’s mind; they are shaped by how a person thinks and where they turn to for truth. Our choices are the outcome of our perspective on life, the values we hold to, our priorities, and so on.  One can see the importance of how one thinks and the consequences of it by considering a second reason not to turn to the world when determining how we should now live.

2. They Have a Corrupt Lifestyle

Ephesians 4:19 (ESV) They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

The result of a futile mind, is trying to fill the God-shaped void in one’s lives with an alternative which they think will satisfy the longing of their hearts. Instead of turning to God to fill that void, they turn to the world for counterfeit options. All one needs to do is observe the direction of our society, or consider former civilizations to see what form it often takes. Those in Ephesus had a front row seat, and for many believers in the Church in Ephesus, it was a vivid reminder of their lives before they experienced newness of life through Jesus. The Temple of Diana/Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was a central part of life in ancient Ephesus. Sexual debauchery was integrated into its religious ritual and as a result affected the entire culture. Sex, which God intends exclusively for a man and a woman married to each other as an expression of intimacy, was taken by the world then, as well as today, and is corrupted and perverted in unimaginable ways. The downward spiral of a society that rejects God and the unmistakable evidence of His existence in creation, is detailed in the last half of Romans. Sadly, we see it unfolding before our eyes in our own country.

Given the background of many of the believers in the Church in Ephesus, as well as in the neighboring Churches where this letter was also circulated, they would have recognized the obvious shortcomings of their surrounding world as a reliable source for direction in how to live. It is a warning that needs to be heard in our own day as well, for we too face conduct that is in clear conflict with the Bible. Sadly, some, despite their profession to be followers of Jesus, have followed the lead of the world, especially in standards concerning sexuality and purity.

A third, and central reason for not looking to the world for direction in how we should now live is,

3. They Are Without God

The underlying characteristic of the world is that they are alienated from God.

Ephesians 4:18 (ESV) 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.

In describing Gentiles in chapter 2, Paul pointed out they were without Christ, without hope, and without God. While they may possess much knowledge on many topics and handle it quite skillfully, it is nevertheless not handled from a perspective that encompasses God. All truth must be considered within the context of the Source of all truth, God Himself. That is true not only when considering matters of faith and spirituality, but also when considering matters of science, history, relationships, and so on. Those who are alienated from the life of God are spiritually dead. Their condition flows from hardened hearts. Psalm 19 details the unmistakable evidence in creation that God exists. The only way to miss that obvious conclusion is to harden one’s heart. It is little wonder the Bible describes such a person as a fool.

Psalm 53:1 (ESV)  The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.

How then could a person who is alienated from the God of this universe who has a plan for each of His children and a design how it can be achieved, be a reliable and trustworthy guide to be followed by one of God’s children?

II. Pattern Yourself After Jesus Christ (Eph 4.20 – 24)

Paul states the obvious, we must set aside the old way of life. We have been made new creations by the unfathomable power of God. He has regenerated all who have believed the Gospel of truth, repented of their sins, and confessed Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. We are to fill our minds with the unfathomable truths detailing our riches in Christ and our secure position in His family. Hence, we must replace the pattern we followed before we were saved, and which still beckons us to embrace as Christians. Therefore, Paul’s reminds his readers that, that is not how they learned Christ; it does not reflect the truth that they, or we, have been privileged to receive and which the Holy Spirit illuminates for us.

Ephesians 4:20–21 (ESV) 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,

Consequently, we are admonished to put off the old self which we patterned our lives after before we knew the Lord and replace it with what is referred to as the new self.

Ephesians 4:22 (ESV) to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,

That old self, or old man as translated in some Bible versions, is representative of our former way of life. We must set it aside and resist the lure of the enemy to live according to it any longer. Formerly we were under the reign of sin and satan, but we have been purchased with the shed blood of the Lamb and are now part of His Kingdom. We must live accordingly! Having been converted, why would we possibly turn to the world for direction since we no longer are a part of it? Why would we think for even a moment that the guidance of the world is reliable and trustworthy? The world reflects the wish of the prince of the power of the air, who continues to work in the sons of disobedience (Eph 2.2). The old self belongs to the past when we were dead in sin and is thoroughly corrupt. Just like satan, its author, deceit is a thread woven throughout it. Let us not lose sight that satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11.13-15) and his ambition is to deceive people by making something that is inherently destructive and corrupt, look appealing and beneficial.

Consequently, we must put on the new self, or the way of thinking, which Jesus Christ is the Author of. It needs to be the grid through which we view life and determine how we should now live.

Ephesians 4:23–24 (ESV) 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.

It will come as no surprise to you, that the central component to the new self is how we think. Critical then is our source of truth. Where do we turn in our quest for truth? Our values and priorities, which shape our choices, emerge from what we believe and think. Therefore, we must saturate our minds with God’s truth if we are to live in a manner that pleases Him.

Colossians 1:10 (ESV) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Psalm 1, which I mentioned earlier, pictures the person who rejects the counsel of the world, and embraces the Word of God as his or her guide, as a flourishing tree planted by streams of living water. God’s desire for us is to regularly and consistently renew our minds with what He thinks about how we should now live and as we do, we will become more and more, the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  And of course the insight of Rom 12.2 about being transformed by the renewing of our minds jumps to the forefront as well.

Romans 12:2 (ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

God’s ambition for us didn’t conclude when He transformed us inwardly, He wants us transformed outwardly as well. He wants us to be made over with an appearance that reflects His Son; that’s how He wants us to now live.


This leads to at least two applications for us to reflect on this week:

  1. How are we doing at renewing our minds with God’s truth?
  2. Where are we allowing the world to direct how we should now live? Where is the world influencing our philosophy of life, distorting a Christian worldview? Where do we allow the world to influence our standards of righteousness and holiness and conduct?

As we continue to make our way through Ephesians, Paul raises some specific areas where God gives us His reliable pattern to follow, a pattern that stands in contrast with much of the world’s pattern.

Let me leave you with the closing hymn, Be Thou My Vision

May the Lord bless you richly this week.