Paul's metric of church growth is Christ himself. We are to grow up into the fullness of Christ by walking with and wearing Christ. These are metaphors for repentance.
- Throughout the letter Paul's focus is on Christ and the church. Whenever Paul thinks and writes about the church he always has Christ in the forefront of his mind. The two cannot be separated.
- In Ephesians 4 Paul's concern is with the health and growth of the church, which is the body of Christ.
- Paul calls the members of the church to unity in Christ. Serving one another in love builds up the body.
- As we think about the body we remember our former way of life. We walk in a certain way now. And he reminds us of the way of life of gentiles – those outside the church.
- Those outside the church are also outside of Christ, and Paul describes this as a futile, dark, alienated and ignorant place to be (v. 17-19).
- Hardness of heart is built up over time as we continue to resist Christ and give ourselves over to selfish living, until we are dominated by and given up to our impure desires.
- The phenomenon of hook-up culture is one that demands carelessness, rewards callousness, and punishes kindness.
- This is the kind of sensuality that we give ourselves over to in resistance to the mercy of God.
- The only way out of this is to put off our old self and put on the new man.
- Walking and wearing are images for repentance.
- We learn Christ by walking with Him. Putting off vice and putting on virtue was a common expression in the ancient world, as it is today. But we are to put on nothing less than Christ Himself.
- What we need is not more education, but mercy. Paul had the best education the first century could provide, but still speaks of his former self as a blasphemer (cf. 1 Tim. 1:13-14).
- We learn to put on Christ by abiding in His Word. This is not only a personal experience, but requires a connection to His body, the church.
- Our sinful desires deceive us (Eph. 4:22). They corrupt and lead to destruction. There can be no small, respectable, or tolerated sin; the old self must be killed.
- At the core of sin is a preoccupation with ourselves. If we do not crucify the old self, he will turn us inward against ourselves, making us rotten and corrupt members of Christ.
- We do not create our new self, it is created by God (v. 24). This new self is more than self-improvement or discipline (cf. Rev. 19:7-8).
- The evidence of our walking with and putting on Christ is the righteous deeds in our lives, but these themselves are given to us.
- Every time we come to the Lord’s Table we are submitting to the work of Christ, repenting of our sins, asking to be dressed in Him.
- Are there areas in your life where you are resisting God?
- What is the difference between pursuing self-improvement and putting on Christ?
- What are some ways we can guard against becoming overly self-focused?
- Is it possible to be in Christ and outside of His church?