17With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
Remember that when the New Testament talks about “Gentiles” it usually can be thought of as someone who does not have a relationship with God – unsaved. Notice how without God our lives are “darkness” and we live for “pleasure:”. Most of the world thinks “pleasure” is, or will bring, happiness. It doesn’t. Pleasure is a desire of the godless, usually happens in darkness, and ruins our lives.
How have you chased pleasure in the past were you truly happy?
In what ways are you still chasing “pleasure”?
20But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
So we are called to throw off our sinful ways and let the Holy Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes. We aren’t called to just act different but we are called to embrace our “new nature”, which is God’s nature. We are called to BE different. God won’t force his change on you, you need to embrace it.
Have you really left God change us at our core?
Are we willing to act and live like he does and how the Bible tells us to, even if it crucifies us?
25So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”d Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
God is back to giving some very practical advice here. These are specific and the list is not long. God has chosen just a few, be VERY important things to emphasize. Think of these in broad terms and how they apply to your whole life. In answering some of these questions below we are all going to be tempted to think of other people who these apply to. Please don’t do that. Bible reading needs to be between you and God. Let God speak to you directly and apply these verses to you only by asking yourself, and only yourself, these questions.
Honesty: Are you really honest, with other’s and yourself? Do you easily admit your faults and errors, or are you defensive and blaming others? Honestly telling others how they are wrong is pretty easy. Honestly accepting when our ways aren’t Christ’s ways is a lot harder.
Anger: Do you understand that anger, even if you think it is justified, “gives a foothold to the devil”. Pretty clear. Anger causes us to sin. Staying angry is specifically addressed – don’t go to bed angry. Being angry at someone longer than 1 day is clearly against God’s instructions for us.
Stealing: Most of us don’t think this is a problem for us, but look at the context here. If you don’t work hard, you are stealing. And the purpose of work is also clear in this passage – to give generously. Most people see this as saying that not being a generous giver, is stealing from the poor. Why do you work, for yourself first and to give second? Is that exactly backwards according to God?
Words: Harsh, foul and abusive language is obviously wrong and needs to be replaced with language that is “good”, “helpful” and an “encouragement”. When you speak, do others leave encouraged or dejected? Do you upset or uplift others?
I know these questions aren’t easy. I feel so convicted just writing this. But, be HONEST and don’t get ANGERED by the questions. Don’t STEAL the meaning from these WORDS by being afraid to change.
31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
We can sadden the Holy Spirit by our actions. He has identified us to the world as his own so when we act in any of these wrong ways, we give the world a bad example of Christ. The chapter ends with another clear set of list (really just repeating the previous list) of bad and good actions.
Look at the list in Verse 31. Are you ready to admit these are evil, period? Are you ready to see each of them as a sin whenever you do them?
Now look at Verse 32. Can you raise the expectation in yourself and make you your goal to live day in and day out, even when it is REALLY hard, showing these behaviors?