Andrew Miller taught on Sunday, October 12. The video and listening guide from that lesson, followed by the scripture, are below.
Core Lesson (Andrew Miller)
The Old and the New
Ephesians 4:17-32, 5:1-20
Paul gives a three part description of the unsaved. First, vanity of the mind darkens understanding. An old military axiom states: “It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you; it’s what you think you know.” This holds true spiritually. Second, this ignorance and the blindness of their hearts alienates them from God. Contrary to the world’s accusation, this is not a case of a judgmental, mean, vindictive God lashing out at those who annoy Him. But when humans decide that a particular lie is preferential to God’s truth, they blind their own hearts and cannot see God. Why would anyone, Christian or not, prefer a lie to the truth? (This is a serious question. If you think about it, there are probably at least a few lies we tell ourselves regularly.)
Third, because they cannot truly feel, they greedily give themselves to lewdness and uncleanness. Think of the heartbreaking pictures of people in nations suffering famine. Without true, sustaining food, they will try to eat anything that might satisfy. Often we see pictures of full, even bloated bellies on emaciated frames. While a starving man greedily stuffing himself with dirt may feel full, he is not satisfied, and will need more and more of his false “food.” He may seem to have plenty, but he is dying. This is the world without Christ. Without acknowledging a problem, there can be little healing. Think about the Alcoholics Anonymous process. We can’t feed a starving world the Bread of Life until they realize they are hungry. How can we, in love, address the root problem of “vanity of the mind?”
Paul describes a state we have come from, and to which we can return. The path down is pride. The more Christ shows us truth, the more we’re tempted to decide we know enough, and stop listening. Paul says we must renew the spirit of our minds, for the old man grows corrupt. He says this to Christians, for we are not above the temptation to deaden our faith by believing lies. When was the last time you, or another Christian you know, expressed anger or offense at “heresy” or “blasphemy?” Why has the church effectively removed these words from our vocabulary? Do you think this is wise?
Paul tells us lusts are deceitful; like starving people eating dirt, worldly lusts do not satisfy. When indulged, they leave you wanting more, and worse, to reach shorter and shallower contentment. Consider the path of the drug addict, who may start with taking prescribed medication when it’s not truly needed, gradually move to acquiring stronger drugs and taking them more regularly, and eventually dying on the street from a narcotics overdose, accepting and committing increasingly severe degradation, chasing something they know can’t give more than the most fleeting relief. The AMA starts seeking a cure by carefully defining the progression of each disease. Pick a sin, such as lust, gluttony, or anger. Describe how someone is tempted into its “gateway drug” and how it builds to spiritual fatality. How should a human “doctor” address it at each stage?
Ephesians 4:17-32New International Version (NIV)
Instructions for Christian Living
17 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. 18 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. 19 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.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]:Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 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.
29 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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 5:1-20New International Version (NIV)
5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive youwith empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.