New Hope UMC

Lessons 11: Putting on Clean Clothes (4:17-32)

Key Verses. 

“... Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24) “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

We think of our world today as unjust, immoral and even beyond redemption. Wilson tells us "Paul’s day was even worse. His era wasn’t “post-Christian” but “pre-Christian,” and sin abounded in the great cities of the Greco-Roman culture of the day. Paul calls the Christians of Ephesus to take seriously the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. What follows in 4:17 through 6:9 is a call to righteousness in all areas of life: speech (5:25-32), sexual mores (5:3-7), use of intoxicants (5:18), family relationships (5:21-6:4), and employer-employee relationships (6:9)." Paul was facing a challenge with the Ephesians. Most had never know a god except those idols built by man. Paul wanted to show them that his God, the Creator of the universe, was far too important to be confined to the space of some idol made of stone. But the unbelievers just don't know about God. He depicts them as ignorant, hearts hardened and given to sexual immorality. 4:17

But we have a new, holy self. v. 22 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; v23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; v24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (4:20-24) So we are taking off old clothes and putting on new clothes. In verses 25-28, he talks about controlling anger and the problems when not doing so. 

Verses 29-32 are devoted to lessons in speech, i.e., what comes out of our mouths. We are to "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (4:29-32)

Finally, we turn to grieving the spirit of God. We look at a range of circumstances, some seemingly unimportant, that can bring grief to God. Lack of compassion, failure to forgive, attitudes of self centeredness.

This is an important lesson for us in daily Christian living. It was so then and it is so now.  

Discussion questions. 

Discussion question 1. (Ephesians 4:17-19) Using Ephesians 4:17-19 as a basis, how would you describe (in your own words), the secular, non-Christian mindset of our age? Why are we tempted to conform to its values?

Discussion question 2. (Ephesians 4:26-27). Why did God give us the emotion of anger, do you think? How can anger be dangerous? How can we keep from sinning when we are angry? Is anger itself sin?

Discussion question 3. (Ephesians 4:29-32) What kind of “unwholesome talk” is common among us Christians? What three guidelines does Paul give us to measure the value of what we say? What is slander? How common is it among Christians? How can we prevent it?

Discussion question 4. (Ephesians 4:32) Why is it so difficult to forgive those who hurt us? According to Ephesians 4:32, who is our example of forgiveness? What heart attitudes toward people are evidence of a forgiving spirit, according to verse 32a?