Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do.... that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus... (Ephesians 4:17a, 20-21)
Paul says that the “Gentile” lifestyle is not right for his readers. If they have trusted in Jesus Christ, if they have believed in him and come to know him and follow him, he has taught them a completely different way to live. He teaches us to live according to truth, not bound up by lies.
This is the absurdity of those who completely misunderstand the gospel. Some would like to reduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to a mere divine “presidential pardon.” Some think Jesus died on the cross simply so that there would be no punishment to accompany our many abuses and sins, no final consequences. Thus, we claim to believe in Jesus so that we can go on happily about our sinning and not even have to worry about any negative consequences of those sins.
If this is what you believe, you have not received Christ. He did not die to negate the validity of our choice to reject God and all the hurts that are born in our lives and in the lives of those around us from that decision. He died to offer us a way out of that spiral of darkness and death. He died to open up a new way for us away from that death and into eternal living.
That is why it is impossible to pursue the Gentile lifestyle and be in Christ. Abandonment of that lifestyle is precisely what being in Christ implies. It would be like getting married in order to remain a bachelor. Paul’s added comment, though, makes it clear that even in his day there were those who misunderstood the gospel. We did not learn Christ by a pagan lifestyle—that is, of course, assuming that we have truly heard about the real Jesus and have actually been taught in him, Jesus in whom all truth resides. You see, if we have truly turned to Jesus, if we are genuinely his, that old lifestyle is precisely what we came to Jesus to get away from. Some may play at being Christians, they may pretend to follow Christ, but if they are bent on the pagan lifestyle, their life belies the faith they claim.
Charles McLeod, our Associate Pastor, will be preaching on Ephesians 4:17-24 in our service this coming Sunday, November 6, 2011. Worship begins at 10:45 am. Come and join us, 3201 W 15th St. Plano, TX 75075. Video and audio of the sermon is posted during the week at our website: www.pcbcplano.org
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