The Gospel Loves (Ephesians 4:17 – 5:21)



Clothing of officers: military, police, fire, emt accomplish 2 actions

  • Relate the identity externally for others.
  • Relate the identity internally for self. When you place on a uniform, you act differently in character (don’t want to tarnish the badge/emblem) & confidence (energy, morale, performance – athletes changing teams).

Clothing reflects an image and impression you want others to see. As a Christian, we want people to see God in and through us.

  • 1Sam 16:7 “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature… For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
  • 1Sam 17:38 David cannot wear Saul’s armor clothing but sought to be himself, and God blessed.
  • Mat 3:4 John wore a garment of camel’s hair and leather belt. His message was conviction > comfort.
  • Jn 19:23-24 Jesus wore a seamless tunic and was unattached to materialism (cf. Mat 6:25-34). Historians suggest Jesus was shamefully shabby in dress.[1]
  • Rom 13:14 clothe yourselves with Christ.

Ephesians: Put off / Put on

EXAMINE           Ephesians 4:17 – 5:20 / The Gospel Loves


  • The Gospel Riots (Ephesians 1)
  • The Gospel Awakens (Ephesians 2:1-10)
  • The Gospel Reconciles (Ephesians 2:11-17)
  • The Gospel Lives (Ephesians 4:1-16)
  • The Gospel Loves (Ephesians 4:17-5:20)

Paul is writing to a church filled with people who have differing backgrounds, gifts, and aims. Most people in first century church life coming to the gospel are not moral and upper middle class like we picture in many churches today. Instead, the Ephesians were a multi-cultural mix of social status with people who need the instruction Paul provides: put off / put on… clothing our character with Jesus Christ (cf. Rom13:14). Paul’s instructions provide us insight into the types of people in the early church – sinners, like us today! The good news is the gospel invites us to come as we are, but grow to become more. We cannot meet Jesus and stay where we are.

While these values may seem standard and share morals to any religion, they have distinctiveness in two ways:

The gospel teaches us to love from the inside-out, not the contrast.

  • The moralist and almost every religion teaches all these values: don’t have a short temper, don’t steal, work hard and give to others, be kind to others.
    • God’s common grace and innate justice can be found all through creation.
  • Religions and denominations can work together without compromise of their beliefs. Christians must be cautious to maintain truth while still finding ways to advance the kingdom.[2]
    – – – > So let’s be careful how we speak about other faiths and denoms.
    • Faith: evangelism, church planting, missions
      • Bible / Baptism / Body organization
    • Social: pro-life and human dignity, religious liberty
    • Moralism teaches these virtues with
      • Fear & Guilt: If you get caught doing wrong then people will reject you and God will convict you. Punishment and fear are powerful motivators, but they’re not fully effective. Lists of should/nots become unattainable taskmasters. They only address the fruit and not the root; external change occurs but inside the person grows distant, discouraged, and deflated.
      • Pride: The lists of should/nots becomes an external standard to judge others for moral superiority. But the issue is our standards are still not perfection like God and we still fall short. Yet, somehow we try to categorize greater and lesser wrongs, compare behaviors, and become judgmental, looking down on others.
      • Both of these motivations fall short of being “new self, created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24).
        • Joseph chose integrity and purity not because of his image before man, but because of his relationship to God (Gen 39:9).
        • Genesis 3 – Adam & Eve after their sin clothed themselves with fig leaves but it was insufficient to cover their wrongs, so God provided new clothes through a blood sacrifice to make atonement.
        • Jeremiah 31:33-34 “But this is the covenant I will make… declares the Lord, I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
        • Ezekiel 11:19-21 (cf. 36:25-27) “I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”
          • The concept of a heart of stone was likely associated with the Egyptian belief and practices. They believed if the heart was weighed in judgment to determine the afterlife could be attained. A heavy heart weighed with sin would tip the balance and found guilty, undeserving of eternal life. Further, some Egyptian practices was to remove a body’s heart before the mummification process to take away any negative judgment and replace it with a stone carved into the shape of a beetle – cultural symbol of life.
            In contrast, God is promising eternal life by taking initiative and early action to create a new heart, unhardened and unharmed by sin.[3]
          • Isaiah 61:10 “for he has clothed me with garments of salvation; he has covered me with his robe of righteousness.”
  • The gospelist teaches you can only truly love and do good when you have a new heart. Paul describes the unbelieving heart as:
    • Futility of mind: A worldview different and contrasting Christianity.
    • Darkened understanding: Darkness often relates to hopeless and evil.
    • Alienated and ignorant of God: In terms of eternality, ignorance is no excuse (Rom 1:18) and leads to separation from God.
    • Callous: Deliberate stubbornness and hardened; “past feeling” and “loss capacity to feel embarrassment and shame”[4]
    • Corrupt: Overtaken by sensuality, greed, impurity.

What changes our moralist and malevolent heart?

First: Salvation.
4:21 “assuming that you heard him”

Second: Sanctification

4:22-24 “put off your old self… be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self”

  • Put off falsehood AND Put ontruthfulness.

    Put off anger AND Put on love. Be angry but not with arrogance (selfish); anger at right source in right style.Don’t let sun go down on your anger – more than don’t go to bed angry (unrealistic),but not resting & nursing anger day in and day out.[5]Anger gives devil a foothold… would you cater and coddle a criminal in home? You belong to Christ and we must not allow a place for satan. Instead of giving satan an inch, we must give him a foot – kicking him out of our life and relationships! Imagine we have a distant wealthy relative leaving us an inheritance of millions of dollars. We go to the bank to arrange and finalize all the bank transfer, with the money fully in your account. On your way home you get a flat tire. Do you scream and curse God, or simply view it is a small challenge and skip the rest of your way home? – – – > We can grumble or be grateful, but our gripes show if our heart is right.
  • Put off stealing AND Put on generosity. κλέπτω stealing an object. 
  • To steal is to be like satan who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
  • Let’s not forget about robbing God of our time, talent, and treasure (Malachi 3:8).
  • Work is good; and all kinds of work – hard work (κοπιάω) with head & hands.
  • Put off corrupt talk AND Put on constructiveness
  • Words can break down or build up.
  • Careful with sarcasm, latin word for tearing flesh.
  • Ps 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
  • Put off bitterness, wrath, clamor, slander, malice AND Put on kindness, tenderness, forgiveness. We can grow bitter or get better by trusting God with your hurts and forgiving as Christ forgave you.  Is the cross small or significant to you? The cross and gospel must become so magnificent to you that you cannot help but extend grace to others. Look through the person and see Jesus.We can get bitter or we can grow better.Forgiveness is a choice to heal from hurts and hope in Jesus redeeming all things for a greater good. If we refuse to forgive others we are essentially proclaiming our their sin against you is greater than your sin against God. Trusting God to avenge (Rom 12:19).

When we solely focus on “put off” we stay prideful moralists. When we solely focus on “put on” we stay unaccountable and undeveloped for our godly calling.    

  • Illus Physical Health: Most of us don’t need to be convinced that a good diet and exercise are good for us. Not eating junk food and high sugars is just the first step, while eating right foods is the balance to the equation. Further, aerobic exercise aids our health. But simply reading about all the facts and benefits healthy activity does not change us until we take action. And what motivates us? Testimony from others motivate us to get going and accountability sustains us to keep going.

*Put off/on is the faith action applied. Like the paralyzed man whom Jesus told “get up,” he had to walk and not just ask Jesus for piggy back (let go let God). Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2).

* SO – our behavioral change does not occur from outside-in forced upon us, but instead happens organically, in the relational process of walking with God, feeding on His word and following His ways.
à Get in Word: Christmas Devotions start Dec 1 –

  • Not too early to begin planning strategy for 2019 – sermon list / Bible Groups
  • E100 Challenge: If we start April 22, 2019 (day after Easter), the last day will be July 31 – or we can have 2 grace days each week and go until August 31.

The gospel teaches us to love from imitation.

Paul exhorts believers to μιμητής/mimic God.  Our model is always Jesus. He’s the standard.Anyone else is short-lived and will disappoint. As God’s children, we follow the patterns of our Father. For parents today, that is a humbling thought – but thankfully Father God is perfect.

  • Zeke’s “Hi Dad” must grow into conversation or our relationship will be shallow and unfulfilled.

Imitate love (Eph 5:2).

  • “as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us”
  • “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” – not a must duty but a must delight

Imitate light (Eph 5:8-9).

  • Living different in midst of darkness and depravity (5:3-12).
  • Lifestyle differences expose the darkness so it becomes visible (5:13).
  • “Awake,O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (5:14).
    A hymn Paul references to show the result of Christians being salt and light.
    • At holidays many do extra cleaning to present an image to outsiders. But if guests arrived early, or if they opened the closets…then they’d see what we were trying to keep hidden.
    • In Christ, every darkness and depravity is exposed under His light.

Imitate wisdom (Eph 5:15).

  • Discerning best use of time/kairos (Eph 5:16-17)
  • Be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18)
    • Context of faith community (Eph 5:19-21)
    • Eph 4:30 “Do not grieve the Spiritbut keepbeing filled (continuous action verb) with the Spirit (Eph 5:18).
    • Christianity isn’t a religious checklist but a relationship.
  • Imitation comes from
    1) intoxication of the object imitated,
    2) permeation of life with the people of God, modeling their life after the Lord.


There is a story of two friends, one was older and wealthy named Dana and the other was younger named Daphne, and all her money covered her bills for her children. The older lady loved the younger lady just like her own daughter. Dana wanted to financially help Daphne but she didn’t want her to feel like it was petty charity. So, she sent a friend Doris, with a gift card to a clothing store saying it was from an anonymous donor.

After a few months, Dana became very sick and passed away. Doris told Daphne the gift was really from Dana. Together they shared many stories and memories of how much they loved Dana. And now, every time Daphne and all her children go to their closet and put clothes on, they remember the goodness and kindness of Dana.

Likewise, every day we go to the closet we are to remember we are clothed with the grace of Jesus Christ.

  • May we wear our Christ clothing that identifies who and who’s we are to others.
  • In life, sometimes you become aware of light exposing areas of darkness and we feel embarrassed, perhaps even naked that our coverings are insufficient. Today, you can be clothed with rich robes of grace in Jesus Christ.



[3] The Bible Background Commentary OT (IVP), Ezekiel 11:19.

[4][4] Peter O’Brien, Pillar NT Commentary, Ephesians 4:19

[5] Peter O’Brien, The Pillar NT Commentary, Ephesians 4:26.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s