You must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
At first glance this verse seems judgmental. It may sound as if Paul is saying, “Don’t be like them.” So it’s important to remember the context in which we find this statement. Paul is writing to encourage and affirm the Ephesian Christians in their faith journey and to give them guidance in the way they should live.
To be a Christian is to recognize that the grace of God has an effect on our being and that by that grace we are called “out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). In other words, there is a turn-around, an about-face, in our life direction.
The Scriptures state clearly that the Christian’s faith journey begins with acknowledging that anyone who is in Christ is a “new creation”—“the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). What Paul is teaching in Ephesians 4 is so important that he invokes God’s approval and insists “on it in the Lord.”
We are not able to live consistently changed lives because of the sin that still clings to us. But we must remain committed to live as new creatures in Christ just the same. The opposite of that, in Paul’s words, is to be futile in our thinking—a quality he assigns to unbelievers because their insight is blinded. So we must “put on the new self,” striving in God’s strength to live “in true righteousness and holiness.”
Dear Father in heaven, please help us to live in the awareness of your new creation. Guide us to be examples of the way of righteousness and holiness each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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