Ephesians 4: 17-32
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
SUMMARY OF SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
On Sunday past we were thinking about what we think about, considering how we begin to think differently as a result of Christ’s victory. If our thoughts aren’t changed then nothing in our life changes. Those who change the way they think change the world.
Paul says two things: (i) "Don’t live in the futility of your mind" and (ii) "Be renewed in the attitude of your mind." The attitude of our mind determines the atmosphere of our lives. As a person thinks, so they are. The direction of your mind determines the destiny of your life.
So the question is: ‘Are my thoughts taking me where I want to go?'
Paul says that the 'Gentiles live in the futility of their thinking.' Those without a connection to God live in unproductive thinking, thinking that leads them nowhere. Joyce Meyer calls it “stinking thinking” because those who think like that pollute everything around them.
Our thoughts are either taking us back to who we were or they are moving us forward into who we are becoming. They are taking us towards failure or a future.
The enemy is always looking for a way, if he can, to creep into our thoughts. He wants to have us focused on our limitations, our losses and our past - so he can get us stuck there. He is trying to get a foothold in our minds which then becomes a stronghold. So Paul instructs us: “...be made new in the attitude of your mind.” In other words, just don’t allow anything to flood your thinking, don’t be passive in your thinking. Fix your thinking. Think about what you’re thinking about.
Until our thinking is filtered through our new nature - what Christ has done for us and what He has given to us – we’re not thinking straight. It doesn’t matter how much God is for you if you are against you. It doesn’t matter how much God straightens your path if your thinking is crooked.
Bill Johnson says this: “I cannot afford today to have a thought in my head that is not in His.” Any thought that is not pertaining to who you are in Christ and who you are becoming is irrelevant.
If our mind is not renewed it will become darkened. It’s very hard to be the light of the world if you have a darkened mindset. And not only do our minds become darkened, but our hearts also get hardened.
Paul says our mind was designed for righteousness and holiness. Any time we think about ourselves in a way that is less than righteous or holy then that is dark thinking. As we come before God we don’t come with the mindset of shame and sin. We come with the mindset of one who has been made righteous by Christ, one who has been saved and rescued, one whose every need has been supplied. Choose to live in the new mindset based on what Christ has accomplished.
Don’t let your thoughts rob you of what the blood has bought you.
We have freedom, holiness and intimacy that comes from being the righteousness of God. When we get hold of that, and that gets hold of us, it begins to impact everything in us and around us. We have a different mindset. We enter environments looking to unlock others rather than use them. We look to supply others destiny rather than secure our own. We're not thinking as captives, we're thinking as creatives. Instead of thinking from a place of slavery we think from a place of victory. We expect life to go well for us.
Because of this new mind, no longer have to hold onto our image of ourselves or live in pretense. We lie because we are afraid and we are afraid because we are ashamed. When we are set free from shame, we no longer feel afraid, and when we no longer feel afraid we can take off our masks.
Everything I have and everything I need Christ has already given. Paul says ‘don’t steal’ because there is nothing you need to take from others when you already have it all. If you knew what God has for you, you would never be jealous of anyone.
The renewed mindset says, “I have nothing to prove and everything to give.” When people take advantage of you or if they take something from you - the old mindset says, “I have rights”. However the renewed mindset says: "God’s Word says that whatever has been taken from me will be returned to me seven-fold."
As we dwell biblically in our thinking it transforms our responses to what happens in our daily lives. As we let go of what we are holding onto it opens up our hands to receive all that God wants to release into them. I reposition myself in the release to receive what the Father has from me.
I neither hold onto my rights or hold onto other’s wrongs.
The new nature that the Lord wants to put within us is not one filled with shame but with honour. Everything belongs to God and we are His children, His sons and daughters. Therefore we walk in freedom, wholeness and intimacy and we live our days in that royal identity wondering how we can unlock the destiny of others?
The goal is not sin avoidance - it’s about releasing the King’s abundance. You don’t want to move from having a depraved mind to having a religious mind. It’s not about keeping the rules or building a reputation in the community.
A kingdom mindset invites God’s good future.