The potential to slide back into our old ways is as old as Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Every generation of the church needs Paul’s message.
Ephesians 4.17-19 – Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their minds;
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart.
They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
The old life must be avoided.
Jesus rescued us from the old life, which he describes as walking “as the gentiles walk.”
Ephesians 2.1-3 – You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.
All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, doing the will of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.
The activities of the old life influenced our attitudes and actions. It is worth our while to take a serious look at the consequences of returning to our old ways of living.
— Futile mind and darkened understanding – A futile mind is empty, foolish, and morally bankrupt.
Paul describes this behavior in Romans.
Romans 1.21-22 – For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.
Alienated from the life of God – Paul pictures life apart from God as “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2.12).
— Ignorance and hardness of heart – The most difficult person to teach is someone who knows it all.
A person who is unwilling to listen to God (hardness of heart) demonstrates ignorance at the highest level.
— Loss of sensitivity – Murder, child abuse, human trafficking, racism, and war can only be explained by the powerful lacking sensitivity to the needs of those whom they oppress.
— Abandoned themselves to licentiousness – Licentious people give themselves over to sensual pleasures.
— Greedy for impurity – There are no limits to the desires of the old life. Addictions of all kinds must be continually satisfied.
Every generation of Christians must resist backsliding. Just as Paul listed the result of returning to our old ways, he gives several reasons why followers of Jesus should follow him with their whole hearts.
Ephesians 4.20-24 – That is not the way you learned Christ!
For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts,
And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The early chapters of Ephesians are filled with worshipful awe for God’s grace, love, and spiritual blessings. This is how we learned the reality of Jesus Christ.
The backsliding Christian gazes at the love of God and like a dog returns to eat its own vomit (Proverbs 26.11).
The old life was corrupted and deceived by human lust. In contrast, Jesus reveals the truth about the best life possible.
Christians who are tempted to return to their old life need to remember what Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10.10).
The world, the flesh, and the devil will lie to us in order to destroy us. Jesus tells us the truth, so we can experience abundant life.
How do we keep walking with Jesus, when we are faced with the temptation to backslide?
(1) We need to be renewed in the spirit of our minds.
When I get an eyelash or a speck of dust in my eye, I immediately remove it. The same principle should pertain to our minds.
A wise spiritual leader said, “When the devil comes knocking at your door, ask Jesus to answer it.”
When a wrong thought enters our mind, it is time to pray and ask Jesus to remove it.
The first Psalm writes about the prosperous human. They do not take the advice of the wicked. Instead, “their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night” (Psalm 1.2).
(2) Become what you are!
God created us to live a Jesus-kind-of-life. We are to live in the reality of that truth.
When we clothe ourselves with the new self, we choose to become what God has graciously made us.
I am alone for today’s YouTube video. I am home with COVID and I’m feeling well, but I need to keep my distance. I will welcome being able to produce these videos with Rudy Ross as soon as possible.
Please email your prayer request to email@example.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.