Learning How to Grow - Ephesians 4:22 - 24

Steve Viars August 28, 1990 Ephesians 4:22-24

- this is our eighth week of studying favorite Bible passages

- let's begin by doing what we did two weeks ago, seeing if

  you can quote one or more of the verses we've studied

 

- Zech. 4:6 - Not by might...

- John 3:16 - For God so loved...

- Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ...

- Isa. 40:31 - They that wait upon the Lord...

- Rom. 8:28-29 - And we know that all things

- Prov. 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart...

 

 - I probably need to say here that our goal isn't simply to

   memorize them

     - some folks have a whole lot more verses memorized than

       they are applying and using to grow

- so if you said - well, I have the basic gist of the verse

  down and I used that truth to make changes this week

    - that would be much better than saying - I have it

      memorized word perfect but it never came up

 

- tonight I'd like to look at a passage that probably will be

  new for some folks if you've just recently trusted Christ

  as Savior, or if you're just beginning to work hard at

  growing

- for many, though, this will be a familiar verse and a

  favorite verse

- because that’s true, let me remind you of some of the

  cautions that we need to remember when we're studying a

  verse that’s familiar

     - 1) I already know that (INPUT - what's better - what

          about this don't I know?)

     - 2) I'm already doing that (INPUT - what's better -

          what part of this am I not doing - in what ways

          could I do this better?)

 

- in a minute - we're going to read Eph. 4:22-24

- INPUT - since this is such a familiar passage, what can you

          tell me about the context?

             - emphasize the "how"

             - God doesn't simply criticize the ways the

               Gentiles walk and then tell us we should be

               different - He also tells us how to be

               different

 

- INPUT - what will happen to a person who hasn't learned the

          "how"?

             - become discouraged (Ted Turner?)

             - become deceitful

 

Read Eph. 4:22-24

 

INPUT - what questions does this passage generate that we'll

        need to discuss tonight?

 

 

 

- This passage contains a three-step principle for how a

  believer changes and grows.

 

I.  Grow By Putting Off

 

   Its important for us to know what Paul meant by the terms

   put off and put on

 

    A.  Meaning of "put off" and "put on"

 

        - Paul is giving us a clothing illustration

        - these words can be found in Greek literature

          describing a person changing their clothes

 

        - Paul is saying - if you're going to grow, something

          has to be taken off, and something has to be put in

          its place

        - that’s what we do when we change clothes – that’s why

          we refer to this as the principle of replacement

 

        - of course that brings up a question - that is-What

          is it that needs to be put off?

        - this is very important - its not enough to know

          that a believer grows by putting of and putting on

           - a person has to know what is to be put off and

             what is to be put on

 

        - according to the passage - what is it that is to be

          put off?  (the old man, old self)

 

        - these next couple of minutes are going to be a bit

          technical, but I believe a person who doesn't

          understand this will be frustrated in their growth

 

        - Paul says - Put off the old man

        - INPUT - now if I asked you tonight - are you, as a

          believer, an old man? - how would you answer? (no)

        - INPUT - verse to support your answer?  (Rom. 6:6 -

           old man has been crucified)

 

        - key question here is - why would Paul tell us to

          put off the old man if the old man has already been

          crucified?

        - the only way I can understand that is if I realize

          that there is a difference between positional truth

          and practical truth

 

        - sometimes in the Bible God is describing my stand

          before him because of my relationship with Christ

          (positional truth) while at other times He is

          describing what I need to do now as a result of my

          position in Christ (practical truth)

 

        - here's an example that makes this point clearer

            - the Word of God says in many places, ye are

              holy, but it also says - be ye holy

            - INPUT - which is positional, practical?

            - in other words, before God because of your

              relationship with Christ, you are holy - now in

              practice be working toward that same

              goal

 

    - now let's factor that into Eph. 4:22

    - when Paul says - put off the old man - he's not saying

         that you are an old man

    - he's saying, you still have many of those habits

       hanging on from those old man days

    - in other words, we carry a lot of baggage into the

       Christian life

 

    - when you were saved, you didn't go home and your house

      was all cleaned up

    - your checkbook was balanced

    - the odometer on your car had been turned back to "0"

 

    - a lot of wonderful things happen at salvation - but

      total transformation isn't one of them

 

    - you carry a lot of baggage into the Christian life

        - those same ways of responding when you're angry

        - those same patterns of jealous thoughts

        - those same habits of laziness

 

    - Paul says - that has to be put off

       - of course the difference is - now you have the

         ability to put it off

       - this isn't like the just say no drug program

       - now you have the spirit of God to empower you

       - you have the Word of God to instruct You

       - you have the Son of God interceeding for you and

         acting as your model

       - you have God the Father answering your prayers and

         providencially controlling what comes into your life

 

       - but you are still fighting against those habits of

         the old man

 

    - you might ask - why did you spend so much time on that

      - reason is - many folks try to grow in an impersonal

                    way

      - tell me if you've ever heard this one

          - the boy goes to the old Indian chief and asks why

                 he does wrong

          - the chief explains - you have two dogs inside of

               you, a white one and a black one - they are

               fighting to dominate you

          - little boy asks - who will win?

          - chief replies - "the one you feed"

             - that kind of stuff makes great preaching, but

               its not right biblically because it gives the

               impression that there is some impersonal "it"

               that is trying to take me over

          - Paul is essentially saying - the "it" is you -

            its those habits that you've been developing from

            the day you were born

 

          - that’s why you don't hear us talk about the "sin

            nature" here

          - for one thing - that phrase is never in the Bible

             - but most importantly - that phrase too has an

               impersonal ring to it - there's something

               inside of me that I can't control

 

 

    - Paul says - its you - its those old habits of the old

      man that need to be put off

 

- let's push this one step further

 

    C.  characteristics of the old man

 

        - INPUT - why is it important that we know the

            characteristics of the old man?  (can't put it

            off if I don't know what it is)

        - we'll look quickly at 3 characteristics and then

          we'll talk about some practical applications

 

        - INPUT - how does Paul describe this old man?

          (corrupt according to the deceitful lusts)

           - that is a theological mouthful

 

        1. corrupting

 

           I said "corrupting" instead of corrupt for a

           reason

 

           - that word is a participle, and its in the

             present tense

           - that’s unusual - you would expect Paul to talk

             about the old man as being corrupted in the past

 

           - he says - these habits are corrupting right now

 

           - let me try to illustrate that

 

               - potatoes

                  - bring home a bag

                  - put them in the potato box

                  - go on vacation a couple of weeks

                  - go to get a few potatoes

                  - they've grown something

                       - no sun, no rain, no dirt

                       - but they're still growing

 

               - (maybe mention physical body)

 

               - that is the kind of image paul is drawing

                 here

 

           - point is - bad habits are self-perpetuating

 

           - that means that if I don't put off sinful habits

             today - its not just a matter of having to take

             up the same fight tomorrow

               - the fight's going to be worse tomorrow -

                 because the habits of the old man are self-

                 perpetuating

 

        2. feeling oriented

 

            - passage says the habits are being corrupted by

              lusts

            - that’s not lusts in a sexual context, but

              desires outside the will of God

            - the primary characteristic of the old man is

              that we lived by our feelings

 

            - why didn't you speak kindly to your wife? (I

              didn't feel like it)

            - why didn't you go to church and worship the

              Lord - I didn't want to - I didn't feel like it

            - why didn't you work hard today?...

 

            - Paul is saying - that kind of lifestyle has to

              be put off

 

            - its going to be hard to do - because of this

              next point

 

        3.  deceitful

 

            - sinful desires are packed with lies

 

            - lies like:

                - I want to have an affair because then I'll

                  be happy

                - I've got to have a bigger house because

                  then I'll feel significant

                - I'm going to get revenge because then I'll

                  get the respect I deserve

 

        - its like being real hungry and eating a big piece

          of chocolate cake

        - it might be satisfying for a moment, but the

          satisfaction doesn't last long

 

- so Paul says - habits of the old man are:

     - corrupting

     - feeling oriented

     - deceitful

 

- point of all of this is - If I'm going to grow, the first

      step is identifying sinful habits of thinking and

      sinful habits of behaving that must be put off

 

- now let me ask you - when's the last time you thought about

    an area that you need to put off?

- I wonder if there would be some who would say - I know

   what this verse says, but its been a long time since I

   actually applied it by identifying something that needs to

   be put off

 

- we're going to have to move off of this - but we need to

  draw:

 

D. Important Implication

 

  INPUT - since the desires of the old man are deceitful,

      what kinds of things am I going to have to do in order

      to grow at the rate God intended (in other words-how

      would you complete this sentence - because desires are

      deceitful, I need  ____________ (get outside help)

 

    - if you're a young person here tonight and you want to

      apply what these verses are saying - one of the best

      things would be to say - I realize that desires are

      deceitful, therefore I'm going to ask my parents what

      things they think I need to put off

 

    - as a spouse - I realize that my habits are deceitful -

      I'm going to ask my spouse what he/she thinks I need to

      put off

    - friend to friend

    - employee to employer

 

- see, growth begins by putting off sinful habits of thinking

    and behaving

- question becomes - if you were called upon to do so - could

  you list 2-3 habits that you are presently trying to put

  off?  (if you couldn't, or if I couldn't, we couldn't be

  growing biblically)

 

- second step, according to the passage is: INPUT?

 

II. Grow By Changing Thinking

 

    - Paul makes it clear that we're not talking about a

      change of behavior first - talking about a change on

      the inside - changing our thinking

 

    - now let me ask you?

 

    A. thinking about what?  INPUT?

 

        - about what needs to be put off

        - INPUT - what kinds of things did I used to think

                  about what needs to be put off

                  (I've got to have that, Its OK to do that,

                   everybody's doing it, no one will know)

        - Paul says - if you are going to change - you have

          to be renewed in the spirit of your mind

        - change starts on the inside, not the outside

 

        - now lets think of a couple of examples, and you

          tell me how a person would use this part of the

          passage to change

 

        1) husband who has the habit of blowing up at his

           wife whenever she mentions that he may have done

           something wrong

               - he runs through a stop sign - she says -

                 Honey, I think you're supposed to stop at

                 those

               - he tells a half-truth - she later calls his

                 attention to it

                   - every time she mentions anything he

                     may have done wrong, he blows up

                   - ****in fact, the last time she did it he

                     just blurted out - I'm not going to have

                     any woman tell me what to do

 

               - lets say he is here tonight - and he's

                 decided that that habit needs to change

               - so from now on, whenever his wife begins to

                 mention something to him, he's going to grab

                 his lips and refuse to blow up

 

               - he's trying to put something off, but will

                 his method work?  (no, he needs to change

                 his thinking)

    - let's try a different example - college student who is

      wrestling with laziness

    - cuts a lot of classes, sleeps in, sleeps through

      classes

    - hands in assignments late

    - but after all - he worked hard all summer - deserves a

      little relaxation

    - and those classes he's cut - he'll never use that stuff

      in real life anyway

    - and those assignments he's missed - they were just

      busywork

 

    - but he was here tonight, too - and he sees that he's

      developed a bit of a bad habit

    - so he's going to change

    - he's asked his roommate to throw cold water on his face

      when its time to get up

    - he's taking along some toothpicks to keep his eyes

      propped open in class

    - INPUT - what is he missing?

        (change thinking - how much sleep he deserves, etc.)

 

    - point - trying to change behavior without changing my

       thinking will not result in lasting changes

 

    - I think we need to say this -

 

    B.  assuming that a person is willing to change thinking

 

        - that’s not always a reasonable assumption to make

        - because many of us would do about anything before

          we'd admit that we had been thinking wrongly about

          a situation

 

        - in fact, let me just ask you - when is the last

          time you said - I've got a sinful habit in this

          area because my thinking has been wrong?

 

        - for many of us, that is hard to do

 

        - So Paul has said - in order to change - I've got to

          identify sinful habits that need to be put off

        - then I've got to change my thinking about those

          habits

 

- but there's a third critical step

 

III.  Grow By Putting On

 

    - read verse 24

 

    - INPUT - how does Paul characterize the new man?

 

    A.  characteristics of the new man

 

        - righteousness and true holiness - speaking of God

          and his Word

 

        - the point is - the primary characteristic of the

          old man is that he is feeling oriented, while the

          primary characteristic of the new man is that he is

          principle or truth oriented

    - so the believer grows by putting off sinful habits and

      replacing them with Godly ones

 

    - thats why we call this the principle of replacement

 

    B. the principle of replacement

 

    - after I've identified what needed to be put off and

      changed my thinking about it, I've also worked to

      develop the exact opposite habit of thinking or

      behaving to put on in its place

 

- INPUT - what happens if I put off but I don't put

              anything on in its place?  (I'll be right back

              to it)

 

- lets try some examples - when is a liar no longer a liar?

 

- when is a thief no longer a thief?

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video