Ephesians 4:17-24 “Holy is Who You Are” Bible Study

SERMON SUMMARY. This is the second in a three-part series on “Living Holy”. The first sermon “How You Livin’?, Holy or Hoe-ish” focused on evaluating ourselves and whether we’re pursuing Godly standards or worldly standards. Remember, we are holy because God is holy. He has set us apart from the rest of the world to represent what “can be” in front of the world. This sermon “Holy is Who You Are” is to serve as a reminder of what God has called us to be and to look at the tragic progression that follows when we become hardened in our hearts. In this text, Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus. Ephesus is one of those thriving commercial cities. It is at an intersection where a lot of commerce takes place. In cities like this, like New York or Los Angeles, there are a high degree of “alternative lifestyles,” and philosophies that are contrary living and being holy. There are usually greater risks or temptations. Paul writes in this section, to make believers aware and wary of following the wrong crowd and the wrong thoughts. He also reminds us to remember who and how we felt when God called us. We have a new self . . . we are created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

HOLY IS WHO YOU ARE (v17). Living a life of holiness is not about feeling bad about the times we stumble and fall. But, living holy is about understanding and being excited about the fact that we are special, wonderful and loved in God’s sight. So much so that he has called us apart to reflect, for others, who he is on the earth. We should all feel like “God’s favorite child”.

  • Look at Psalm 139:14 and Genesis 1:26. What do we see about how God created us?
  • Do we think God created us to live a life of shame or shamelessness? What would you want for your children? How would you want them to represent you in the land?
  • How do we feel about God’s call for us to lead holy lives?

And yet, here in Ephesus . . . in the church, some people were apparently still living their former lives and following after others.

  • Are we living as others do or are we following after God?

DON’T FOLLOW FOOLS/HARDENED HEART (v18-19). For some reason, despite our knowledge of God, we can find ourselves drawn by the lives, thoughts or “philosophies” of those who are not following God. We can be drawn by something appealing in their lifestyles (money, popularity, etc.) or by what we perceive to be some deep way of thinking (e.g. “the illuminati”, “the Secret”, “self professed intellectuals”, etc.) Paul insists “in the Lord” that we not be drawn to that. And then begins to tell us who they are and what can happen to us.

DON’T FOLLOW FOOLS/HARDENED HEART (v18-19). For some reason, despite our knowledge of God, we can find ourselves drawn by the lives, thoughts or “philosophies” of those who are not following God. We can be drawn by something appealing in their lifestyles (money, popularity, etc.) or by what we perceive to be some deep way of thinking (e.g. “the illuminati”, “the Secret”, “self professed intellectuals”, etc.) Paul insists “in the Lord” that we not be drawn to that. And then begins to tell us who they are and what can happen to us.

  • Verses 17 and 18 tell us that they are futile in their thinking, darkened in their understanding, and ignorant. Reflect on and discuss what it means to be each of these things? Can you think of examples in your life (or others)?
  • What do we see at the end of verse 18 as the source of these negative attributes?
  • When we resist God’s call to live holy, our hearts begin to harden and we start to drift from God. This is very real. We need to pay attention to this.
  • Verse 19 shows us the progression that comes from the hardening heart – it is a path to destruction. What do we see that happens to us or others when we become hard hearted? Do we see (in our lives or others) the loss of sensitivity, pursuit of carnal things, indulging, and an increase in greed and self-centeredness?

YOU WERE NOT TAUGHT THIS WAY/THE OLD LIFE AND THE NEW LIFE (v20-24). The way of the old life may sometimes call or seem appealing. All of us have old lives and former selves. But Paul not only makes clear where that old life leads but also reminds us where we’ve come from and what we’ve been taught.

  • In verses 20 and 21, Paul seeks to make clear and remind us of the moment when we rejected a life without God and embraced our lives with God. Reflect on your walk with God. Can you remember what it was like when you realized God was calling you to a new and better life?
  • Do we know that we are new creatures in Christ? Look at Romans 12:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.
  • Why would anyone want to go back to old way? How does this happen? (Remember the hardened heart).
  • Sometimes we believe we are what the world has said about us. Sometimes we believe the worst about ourselves. But, when we believe in and pursue God and his holiness, who does verse 24 say that we are?

Holy is who we are. God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made . . . we are made in God’s image. Remember our new life in Christ and that we have been created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

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