The Old and the New
In Ephesians 4, Paul first reveals how Christian unity was
to be achieved. He then reveals how the early church needed
spiritual gifts until the Word was completed. Beginning with
verse 17, he reveals the conversion from the old man to the
Descriptions of the Old Man
(Verses 17-19) Five Descriptions
“Walk in futility of your mind” Most of the
Christians at Ephesus had come from Gentile backgrounds.
After obeying the gospel, they were to no longer live
[habitual action] that which characterized the Gentiles as a
whole. Paul had referred to this previously in Ephesians
2:1-3. “Futility of mind” means empty lives, without
purpose. This sounds like many today.
“Their understanding darkened”
They were spiritually blind. This was a condition they had
imposed upon themselves. Similar to Matthew 13:15-16.
“Alienated from the life of God”
For two reasons:
“Ignorance in them” This is very dangerous in religion. Many
unbelievers lived without the knowledge of God’s will.
Some just ignored it. Similar to Romans 1:21, 28. Either way
this ignorance keeps men alienated from God.
“Blindness of heart, being past feeling”
There was hardness of heart because they had lived without
God. They had lost the power to feel shame or remorse. They
had become callous to the sense of right and wrong. Their
“consciences were seared with a hot iron.” Several practices
in our society today do not even raise an eyebrow to what
just a generation ago was a source of shame!
“Given themselves over to lewdness”
They, themselves, removed restraints. Shameless conduct from
one who does not even try to hide sin, but openly acts
indecently. Moral filthiness (Romans 1:24) These five
characteristics describe our society. They also describe the
Gentiles as a whole in the First Century.
Need for Teaching about Christ
(Verses 20-21) The truth that is in Jesus, that sets men
free, is the gospel, which is the power of God to salvation.
No one can know Christ without knowing the gospel. To preach
Christ is to preach the gospel. Paul stresses here that they
[Ephesian Christians] had not so learned the gospel of
Christ as to think these things just mentioned were
allowable by God. They weren’t. To be a follower of Jesus
demands a certain way of life, a way Paul is about to
Transformation to the New Man
(Verses 22-24) Verse 22 “Old man” refers to the old sinful
way of life. Apart from Christ, people just get
progressively more corrupt and wicked. (II Timothy 3:13) “Put
off” is the first of three infinitives which describe
this transformation. Put away, lay aside. (Colossians
3:8-10) Verse 23 “Be renewed” is the second
infinitive. (Romans 12:1-2) “Spirit of the mind” is the
spirit that directs the mind. Before becoming Christians,
this spirit sought to gratify lusts of the flesh. As
Christians, this spirit directs the mind to what is good and
honorable and godly. Verse 24 “Put on” is the third
infinitive. It is not enough to put off the old man; the new
one must be put on. The Christian must dress himself in
clothes of righteousness. This new man has new feelings and
new desires which direct him to be conformed to the image of
Christ. (II Corinthians 3:18)
Our text revealed amazing power of the gospel to change
people, to convert the vilest of sinners into the holiest of
saints. When we learn Christ, we are able to put away that
former life [regardless of how wicked] and begin a new life
characterized by righteousness. That can describe you if you
are willing to obey Christ.
July 13, 2014