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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

Put Off

Series: Renewal



Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV

Isaiah 40:3 (the Way of the Lord)

Acts 9:1-2 MSG

John 16:2 MSG

Acts 9:3-9 MSG

Acts 9:10-16 MSG

Ephesians 4:17-19 MSG

John 8:12 (Jesus the Light)


The object lesson my da did using a dollar bill (see previous lesson) to cover my eyes is an example that relates to what the Apostle Paul wrote about to the church in Ephesus.


With the dollar bill I was reminded that whatever I hold close to me…whatever I hold dear to my heart will inevitably be what I see and come to rely on.


In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus , “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”


Paul encouraged his audience in Ephesus to “put on” the righteousness and holiness of God.


It’s interesting that every early church Father in the First Century wrote to encourage the new followers of the people of the Way (see Isaiah 40:3) to recognize their new life in Christ was a different kind of life.


They were told to leave their old life behind.


We need to remember the new followers of Jesus that Paul was writing to were not children. They were adults. Many who heard his words were Jewish who grew up going to Temple. Their early education taught them how to follow the God of their Hebrew Fathers.


There were other new believers who were known as Gentiles who had various ideologies not connected to Judaism. A Gentile is loosely defined as any person who is not Jewish.


The Apostle Paul who was originally determined to stop the spread of the followers of the Way (previous to his conversion experience) was a devout Hebrew scholar who had given his life to Judaism. We learn from Acts 9:1-2, “Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem.”


Paul was a powerful Pharisee who was determined to do away with the people who followed Jesus.  Before his death Jesus said in John 16:2 there would be people …like Saul who would, “put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.”


That’s exactly what Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul) would do.


Then we learn in Acts 9:3-9, one day Saul was on a journey on the road to Damascus, “When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.” His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn’t see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing.”


Saul of Tarsus met Jesus on the road to Damascus and his life was never the same again.


In Acts 9:10-16 we are told what happened after Saul was blinded. “There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.”

“Yes, Master?” he answered.

“Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.”

Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.” But the Master said, “Don’t argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews.”


Saul had learned that Jesus was truly sent by God.


Eventually Saul was called Paul and he had a powerful ministry to the Gentiles. Paul had many missionary journeys where he took the message of the people of the Way to the Gentiles.


It was Paul who wrote the words to the Ephesians in 4:17-19 leading up to today’s verses. In the Message we read, “And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.”


Saul who was a devout Hebrew Pharisee who dedicated his life to studying and memorizing Hebrew scripture gave it all away to follow Jesus.


So you see, Saul who became Paul knew exactly what he was asking (or telling) the people of the Way to do, because he absolutely did not go along with the crowd he had called family and colleagues all his life.


He knew there were people who were mindless who weren’t looking to God for the truth.


He knew they were wandering aimlessly.


He knew the right way was to listen to God instead of following the crowd.


He knew they weren’t thinking straight and without any regret or pain, they turned away from God.


Paul knew they were addicted to sin and a perverse life style.


Saul who was now Paul saw the light on the Road to Damascus and he knew that Jesus was the light of the world (John 8:12) and he gave up everything he had worked his whole life for in order to follow Jesus, the Light.


Paul wasn’t just spewing out empty words when he told the church in Ephesus …he KNEW how to put off his old self and give his whole life to Jesus.


He knew because that’s exactly what he did.


Spiritual Practice: Put Off


If you haven’t put off your old life, do it now by turning to God. If you have put off your old self, remember God in you. Remember God coming to you, calling to you, urging you to come. Remember the forgiveness. Remember the love.


In God, Deborah

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