Todays readings.. Numbers 22&23, Proverbs 16, Ephesians 3&4.
“THAT IS NOT THE WAY YOU LEARNED CHRIST”
The chapters in Ephesians today are a passionate plea by Paul to the believers there to see their behaviour does not slip back to what it was before they believed in Christ. Life in those days, like life today was full of distractions, it certainly is today.
He tells them, “you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and given themselves up to sensuality …” [Ch.4 v.17-19]
These words also accurately describe the atmosphere in which most of us live today, it is the attitudes probably nearly all of us see around us. Modern technology highlights these attitudes, making them worse and more appealing in many cases. Paul then writes, “But that is not the way you learned Christ!” [v.20] He seems to doubt that their learning of Christ had effectively led to a change of behaviour for he continues, “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught … to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” [v.v.21-22].
How “deceitful” our desires can be! It is vital “to be renewed in* the spirit of (y)our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” [v.23,24] Tragically it is possible to be converted in our head, intellectually, while our hearts still have*a great amount of fleshly inclinations.
Paul then says, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by which you were sealed for the day of redemption.” [v.30]. We have on one or two occasions in past years attended those Pentecostal type services where they convince themselves they have some special gift that enables them to have visions; it is most unconvincing!
The point Paul makes here is that we should recognise that the Holy Spirit possesses us, rather than the other way round. This is the point we have seen several times in Proverbs. We read in ch. 15 yesterday that the “eyes of the LORD are in every place keeping watch…” [v.3] Surely this is the case with those who have been “sealed” by God’s Spirit through the renewal of their minds – having “learned Christ” the right “way.”