Ephesians 4:17-24

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Happy 2022!

Happy new year everyone! I'm very excited and eager about what 2022 has in store and the growth opportunities that will come. Looking back at my life in 2021, I am beyond thankful and beyond awe at so many moments of growing with God, building my ministry, and learning about marriage has quickly gone by in a blink of an eye. If you have ever seen any of the X-Men movies that were on the FX channel, I felt like the superhero, Quicksilver, who can move super fast, but it's more like time is super fast and in this gif, this is how I felt when 2022 came close. I'm ready for this new year!



Old to New (Ephesians 4:17-24)

I was praying and thinking about this year's newsletters, I wanted to share and teach you what I've been learning in scripture, and invite you to dig deeper into the scriptures what they mean. I believe Ephesians 4:17-24 is an appropriate verse to start the new year and understand what Apostle Paul was challenging the people of Ephesus what it means to be the body of Christ. (If you don't feel led to read the whole thing, you can scroll down to the bottom to see photo updates from December). Let's begin!

Introduction:

The book of Ephesians was written from Paul in prison somewhere in Rome to the people in Ephesus. The purpose of his letter is to invite the reader to comprehend and respond to the "revelation" (greek translation: apocalyptic, reveal) message of Jesus to the gentiles. For more context, go read Acts chapter 19. Ephesians chapters 1-3 is the overarching theme of Paul unpacking the Gospel story to them. In chapters 4-6, Paul challenges and encourages the people in Ephesians to live out the story of the Gospel of Jesus, that they are no longer their old selves but part of the family of God, the Church body.


4:17-20

"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned"

Paul begins instructing the Ephesians what it looks like to live out a Christian life. He teaches them not to share in the kind of immoral lifestyle which non-believers follow. The Ephesian Christians were mostly Gentiles, in the sense of being non-Jewish: they were not descendants of Israel. The Gentiles are considered as nonbelievers and were separated from God, and the life He gives is salvation. An unbeliever cannot experience God in his or her life apart from salvation by grace through faith. In verse 19, the word "have given themselves over" is the Greek term paredōkan, which implies to someone or something handing them over to the power of another, or captured. Every one of us in the church used to live our way of destruction and sin before we met Christ. We were considered gentiles/unbelievers before believing Jesus as God the Father. Read further in verses 21-24.

4:21-24

"21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."


Paul next calls believers to consciously strive towards a more Christ-like life. Paul speaks elsewhere regarding the "old self" in Romans 6:6 and Colossians 3:9. The "old self" is the old way of life practiced by Christians before their conversion. According to Paul, this "old self" has two characteristics. First, it "belongs" to that previous state, not the current status as a child of God. A believer is not to be associated with the same sinful practices he or she lived for before knowing Christ. 


Second, the "old self" is marked by evil brought on by misplaced, deceptive urges. As prior verses indicated, unbelievers, not only "[give] themselves up" to sin, they seem eager to go deeper and further into sin. This is not only damaging to their relationship with God, it's damaging to their lives and physical bodies (Romans 1:27). Sin is deceptive, making us think that what's harmful is what's best for us. The word for "corruption" here in greek is phtheiromenon, which carries the idea of rotting, wasting, rusting, or being defiled. Such things are ruined and useless, with no value to themselves or others. In contrast, believers are called to be like-minded like Jesus and put on the character likeness of Jesus rather than our old selves which brought us death.


Truly understanding saving grace, as Paul explained in prior chapters of Ephesians, the Christian's first motivation for living a godly life. Paul encourages the believers to live in a way that honors that gift. All saved Christians are part of a single, unified family, part of the ''body'' of Christ.

Conclusion

I remember a student shared this analogy about putting on the life of Christ with a sheep's wool that stuck with me for years now. Imagine a sheep with lots of wool. The wool represents the sin that is in our lives and if we don't recognize it, it will continue to grow and will spiritually kill us. The Shephard represents Jesus (John 10) who helps the sheep sheers off the wool of sin for it no longer becomes a new sheep (look at the image below).
Fun fact, too much wool on a sheep can kill a sheep from overheating over the summer. 

Now that Jesus helped us by "shearing" off our sin to become a new creation into the family of God. Imagine what would the sheep look like if it tried to put the old wool back on itself? It would look funny and ridiculous! That's the same thing when we become Christians and but try to go back to our old ways, it looks weird and not normal. 

As we begin 2022, let's remember what Paul said about the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-25 and strive towards that and put on the new life of Christ. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

December 2021

I went camping with some guys at Paulo Duro Canyon State Park (Amarillo, TX). This place was beautiful than I expected.

We had our Christmas party as a whole Collin ministry at our community church in Wylie. Everyone participated in a fort-building competition, and my team got 3rd place this year. It was super fun, and we all needed a break from classes. 



We sang Christmas worship songs to close out our night together to remember the reason for the season.

 Collin FOCUS Prayer Request:

1. Safe travels and healthy for our staff and students at Winter Camp. Please ask for protection in the next week at Sky Ranch.

2. The first week of the spring semester starts in two weeks! Pray for us to reach out to all students seeking God and looking for friendships at Collin College.

3. Pray for me. I ask to seek more the life and character of Jesus than I did last year. Ask the Lord to shape my heart, and test me to show the love and grace to students I will have a hard time ministering. 

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