And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in lustful obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretenses. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
Go ahead and be righteously angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. All God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.
- Ephesians 4:17 – 5:1 (The Message, edited by Katie A)
This passage really touched me this morning. It stems from and sums up a lot of the concepts that we learned and studied in this last week. Pastor Nathan Renner and his family were visiting here at Fountainview while Pastor Renner lead our week of prayer. His simple, biblical worships were refreshing, and I learned a lot from his approach of the writings of Paul. What impacted me the most, however, was the Christ-like example of the Renner family as a whole. Listening to an evangelist preach his heart out is generally edifying and often even inspiring, but when you find an evangelist who not only lives what he says but whose family also believes and lives what he preaches, that is eternally beautiful. I saw this beauty in the Renner family; in the attentiveness of the children as they listened to their daddy speak, in the support and cheerfulness of a mother whose life was obviously dedicated to the ministry of her husband and the destiny of her children, and in the care and leadership of a father who recognized his primary calling to his family as priority over his secondary calling to ministry.
How do they do it? How have they succeed in reflecting Jesus where so many others fall pitifully below the standard? All the loveliness that was shown to me through the Renner family is because of God's work in their lives, because they have followed the advise of Paul in Ephesians 5:1, "Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. All God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that." May His love be the signature of my life as well.