Christ’s Body, Ephesians 4:20-24

“… [Gentiles] who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ…” Ephesians 4:19-20.

Ephesians verse 19 has been added above to maintain context, and it fairly sums up the study of Ephesians 4:17-19 posted on 6-22-21 and 6-25-21.

“But you have not so learned Christ…” Ephesians 4:20.

Men and women who have accepted salvation in Jesus have been freed from the bondage of sin and death and are no longer slaves to the life of futility that they once lived.

“I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:19-23.

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:” Ephesians 4:20-21.

The verses in this study compose one whole sentence from verse 20 through 24, so it will be necessary to break the sentence up into five parts, hopefully without creating confusion.

At the same time each part will be examined alone to keep the sentence from running into nothing but a bunch of words.

Verses 20-21 quoted above end in a colon. A short definition of a colon is that it is used after some formal introductory words: to bring attention to what is to follow.

“…if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him…” this statement brings up a question, have you really accepted Christ as Savior? If one has heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and accepted Him as Savior then they certainly would have been taught by Him.

“It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” John 6:45.

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:9-11.

This is what is being taught by the good shepherd Jesus; all who hear and understand will come to Him. “…as the truth is in Jesus”.

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6.

The truth is in Jesus, the world lives in a lie, and it is said of the world:

“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” 1 John 5:19.

“Truth is the revelation of all things as they really are, from God Himself.” William Kelley.

The world is mired in layer after layer of falsehoods such as, evolution, false religions, global warming, climate change, man is god, atheism, communism, socialism, all of which are going to end in men following the myth that one dictator (Antichrist) can rule the earth and bring in peace.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Lord Acton.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5.

“Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:43-44.

“I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:21-22.

Here is a recap of what we have covered so far.

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…” Ephesians 4:20-22.

We will now pick up at verse 22 which begins after the colon punctuation mark.

“…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts”; the old man, the person we were in sin, and the person we have been trained to be by the world, must be forsaken, and considered dead by us if we are to progress in Christ.

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die [early]; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13.

A lot of this putting off of the former conduct is fairly easy, stay away from the places which tempt you to sin. Just as Alcoholics Anonymous teaches folks to stay away from bars and drinking pals to escape the temptation to drink, so the Christian should avoid sinful acquaintances, doubtful places, and evil influences.

This does not mean that we are to avoid coworkers, family, or friends. This would make us appear holier than thou. One can join others at the lunch counter and chat without using crude humor, or filthy references. There are other things to talk about, such as work, family, recreation, even Jesus if He comes up.

There is such a thing as a sincere, gentle Christian witness, people will recognize this and either welcome your company or avoid you.

“But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3:8-11.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2.

These seemingly unattainable things are gained only through the work of the Holy Spirit within your heart. But you must cooperate by listening to the things the Holy Spirit teaches you.

Begin by reading and studying your Bible, going to a church that teaches the Bible, Bible study groups, associating with other Christians, in short, it is always all about Jesus, follow Him.

The last phrase in verse 22 is very significant, “… [put off] the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts”, the old man of course is the sinful person that the Christian was.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

This is literally true, the spirit within a Christian is reborn as a new creation, as though they had never sinned, and are in the likeness of Jesus Christ Himself.

The rub is that while the inner spirit of a man is desirous of living a Christ like life, the soul (the conscious mind) and the flesh conspire against the inner spirit to carry out the lusts of the flesh.

As a result, there is a constant warfare going on within the Christian between these factions; a warfare which the flesh often wins, as many of us can attest.

“I [Apostle Paul] find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Romans 7:21-23.

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:16-17.

It has been said that you can starve the spirit and feed the flesh, or you can starve the flesh and feed the spirit.

“…reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:11-13.

A hammer can be used as an instrument to drive nails to build a thing of beauty, or it can be used as an instrument to beat someone to death with. Our members can be used as instruments for good or evil, the choice is ours. Choose wisely.

We have discussed putting off the old man, but the remainder of verse 22 is of interest too, “…the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts”. The word corrupt here has the idea of falling away from Christ and into the old habits.

“…according to the deceitful lusts”, sin deceives, and those who give in to their lusts on a regular basis and do not confess it as sin will soon be deceived into returning to their old ways.

Which in time, if not corrected, will cause a severe catastrophe or even death for the one who has become hardened by their sinful ways.

“If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He [God] will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” 1 John 5:16.

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort [encourage] one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:12-13.

Sin is deceitful as though it were alive and speaking to you, telling you, this is the way; enjoy your life while you can. Many a Christian has fallen into a pit of quicksand which had seemed as though it were a pleasant path.

If we are to put off the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts, it is evident then that we should, “…be renewed in the spirit of your mind” verse 23.

Since this renewal has been touched on several times already, the best thing is to give one more passage which elaborates on this thought.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:6-8.

The final verse in our study and the last phrase in this single sentence from verse 20 through 24 is as follows.

“…and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24.

“…put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him [the new man]…” Colossians 3:10.

The new man is created in the image of God, just as Adam was.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27.

The new man, the spirit of the man, is created in the image of God through the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross making the believer a new creature in Christ Jesus, and having the righteousness of God in him.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

For the Christian the potential of this fact is amazing, however giving oneself completely over to the new man within us is severely limited by our own will. Yet while we may not see the completion of this transformation here, we will in heaven, because it is the mark of the citizen of heaven.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29.

The fact that Christians are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus does not mean that heaven will be a cookie cutter assemblage of people who act exactly alike.

Rather we will always be ourselves as individuals, but our actions will be in a Christ like manner, rather than anger, or self seeking, or any other of the sinful responses of the flesh.

Now, since we have seen Ephesians 4:20-24 in its parts, let us now re-read this passage again with a better understanding of the whole.

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24.

Christ’s Body, Ephesians 4:20-24 taken from posted on 3-26-16, updated on 6-28-21.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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