The Old Life and
17As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. 18Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, 19and they are so greedy they do all kinds of indecent things.
20-21But this isn't what you were taught about Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and you heard about him and learned about him. 22 You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. 23Let the Spirit change your way of thinking 24 and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy.
Rules for the New Life
25 We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. 26 Don't get so angry that you sin. Don't go to bed angry 27and don't give the devil a chance.
28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need.
29Stop all your dirty talk. Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.
30Don't make God's Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that someday you will be free from your sins.
31Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. 32 Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.
When the believers gathered to hear Paul’s letter being read out, there were some who were harbouring guilty secrets.
But as the letter opened, it didn’t seem so difficult to listen to – Paul called them faithful followers (1:1), God’s possession (1:13), people of faith and love (1:15) and members of God’s family (2:19).
But suddenly, as the opening words of chapter 4 were read: “As a prisoner of the Lord I beg you to live a life that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own”, their pulses would have raced and their confidence would have collapsed
Some were living as though they had never been rescued out of darkness. While there was no indication that they neglected meeting with the other believers to learn from the Scriptures, or that they failed to join with them in prayer, worship and the Lord’s supper, it’s what they were up to outside of church and with each other that was the issue. It was their lying, cheating and stealing; their maliciousness, crudeness and corruption; their anger, laziness and bitterness that concerned the apostle.
Paul, a prisoner for Christ (3:1), found reports about their behaviour utterly abhorrent, and likened them to “stupid, godless people”. He demands that they exercise self control: “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy” (vv.23-24).
Does this sound like an intrusion into private space? Paul shows incredible awareness of God’s character when he justifies it: “Don’t make God’s Spirit sad” (v.30).
Dear Father, If we don’t make the effort to live a life worthy of the One who died to redeem us, we “dishonour God’s Son, and disgrace the blood of the promise that made us holy” Hebrews 10:29. Please help us live as children of light. Forgive and help us. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.