Sermon title: "A Different Kind of Christmas"
Scripture text: Ephesians 4:17-32
Date: November 29, 2015
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that 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 have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But 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, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
1. Paul reminds the Ephesians of their "spiritual biography" in Ephesians 4:17-24. What are some characteristics of life apart from God, according to Ephesians 4:17-19?
2. How did their transformation happen, according to Ephesians 4:20=24?
3. Conversion involves a "putting off" and a "putting on" according to v. 22 and v. 24. What are some things we learn about the "new self" in v. 24?
4. Now that we have a new desire to please God, and a new nature, Scripture calls us to "put off" the habits of the old self. This is known as sanctification. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are gradually changed to become more and more like Jesus. What are some ways that you have seen your "old self" rear its head recently?
5. In vv. 25-32, Paul lists some things that we are called to "put off." For example, we are to put away falsehood, and speak truth. Are there ways that we can be false and untruthful?
6. How can anger be mishandled, according to vv. 26-27?
7. In most of these verses, we are given a negative (put off), and a positive (put on). What are we to put off and put on in v. 28? What pressures in life might lead us to "steal" or withhold generosity?
8. What are the negative and positive in v. 29? What are some ways that we can easily fall into corrupting speech? Is there someone you need to encourage and build up today?
9. The most challenging things to put away are found in v. 31. Can you identify with the difficulty of putting away bitterness or resentment? Where do we get strength to forgive, according to v. 32?
10. This list of commands can be convicting, and challenging. Is there one that is especially challenging to you at this time?
11. We might be tempted to change by in our own strength, rather than the grace of the Holy Spirit. However, God wants to change us on the inside, through the strength of his grace. How might God us worship, the Lord's Supper, community, and prayer to bring about change over time.