Put on Christ (Eph. 4:17-32)


Recently the Cleveland Browns released their cornerback, Jo Haden. They released their only good player. So, the Steelers, being the smart football team that they are, signed him. Wouldn’t it be funny if Haden kept wearing the Browns Jersey? He would never do that. When you are signed with a team you put on their jersey.

Raise your hand if you are a Christian.

Raise your hand if you are a follower of Jesus.

Look at the army of Christians we have here. Remember the children’s song, “The Lord’s Army”?

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes Sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

As we look at this longer passage Christian are told to live a godly lifestyle. We are told to “Put on” the new man. That is our calling.

When we are baptized we put on the new man:

Rena was 3 years old when she went to her first baptismal service. It was new for her and a bit mystifying. As events transpired, she looked up at her father with surprise in her eyes, “Daddy, he pushed that guy under the water? Why did he do that?” The father tried to quietly answer her question during the service; but his answer did not satisfy little Rena. So when they got home he attempted a fuller explanation. “Well people do bad things; and they are being baptized to let everyone know they are now going to be good. The water symbolizes Jesus’ washing people’s sins away. When they come out ‘clean,’ they are going to try to be ‘good.’” Rena thought about that for a moment and then asked the simple question, ‘Why didn’t Pastor Bob just spank him?

My theme today:

Christians are called to a Godly lifestyle

  1. In verses 17-19 we are told to Walk no longer as the Gentiles walk…
    1. Let’s read verses 17-19: So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
    2. Just a few words about each section of this passage.
    3. Gandhi said: “I like your Christ, I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are not like your Christ.”
    4. Paul writes about this theme a lot and we can tell that by doing some cross reference. Maybe I will post that on my blog later, or you can look it up on your own, or we can talk about all the cross reference on Wednesday night.
    5. But, in Ephesians 2 Paul wrote about who we were and what Christ saved us from.
    6. You are saved. Wear the Christian jersey.
    7. As I was reviewing what I was going to share for this sermon it hit me to remind you of the Holy Spirit.
    8. As we talk about this section remember that we do not live the Christian life alone. Paul just taught about the spiritual gifts. We also have the body of Christ. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said we receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and we will be witnesses. Remember a few things. The Holy Spirit is with you. You can read John chapter 14-17 about the Holy Spirit. But also remember the context of Acts 1:8 is witnessing. I believe we receive the most power from the Holy Spirit when we witness. I encourage you to read or listen to Francis Chan’s book, “Forgotten God.”
    9. Before we move on notice how Paul describes the Gentiles. This was a common way to describe gentiles. The Jews were more moral. One or my sources says: Premarital sex, homosexual intercourse and idolatry were typically Gentile sins from which nearly all Jews abstained. By contrast, pagans were raised this way; many Greek boys were ushered into “manhood” by an older man’s molestation.[1]
  2. In verses 20-24 Paul continues telling us to Lay aside the old self and put on the new.
  • 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness ofGod has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
    1. There is so much to be shared with this section, but I will only share a little bit. If you attend Wednesday night we can talk much more.
    2. You did not learn Christ that way. I think about that as that was not your exposure to Christ, or, more likely, as you learned that is not Christianity.
    3. Get rid of the old way of life. Get rid of the old jersey.
    4. Be renewed.
    5. I like the tag at the end of verse 24: and put on the new self, which in the likeness ofGod has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
    6. Put on the Christian jersey. Pursue holiness, righteousness and truth.
    7. Jesus transforms: Napolean shares about Jesus:

 Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. . . . I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man. . . . I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me . . . but to do this is was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lightened up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ. 

  1. In verses 25-32 we are exhorted to Lay aside the old and put on the new
    1. Let’s read the verses: Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of youwith his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
    2. Lay aside:
      1. false hood (verse 25)
      2. do not let the sun go down on your anger (verse 26)
  • do not give the devil a foothold (verse 27)
  1. do not steel (verse 28)
  2. let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth (verse 29)
  3. do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (verse 30)
  • bitterness (verse 31)
  • wrath (verse 31)
  1. anger (verse 31)
  2. clamor (verse 31)
  3. slander (verse 31)
  • malice (verse 31)
  1. Put on:
    1. Truth (verse 25)
    2. Labor with your own hands (verse 28)
  • Have something to share with those who have need (Verse 28)
  1. Speak words that are good (verse 29)
  2. Kindness (verse 32)
  3. Tender-hearted (verse 32)
  • Forgiving (verse 32)
  1. Tag line: forgiving, “just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
  2. àIt seems fitting to have this here
  3. àIt seems like Paul is saying when you mess up with that list just written about forgive each other


What if you wore a Christian uniform everywhere you went? What would that be like? When I was in high school I was in Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (NJROTC). This was a military program. We learned the ways of the navy. We even wore uniforms once a week. Do you think we could act silly, rebellious, disrespectful wearing that uniform? NO WE COULD NOT. IF we did, when the former Navy officers who led the program found out he would make us run laps or do pushups.

If you are a Christian, you always, always, always wear that Jersey.

If you are able to stand, stand if you are a Christian.

Listen, this is your charge this week.

When you committed your life to Christ you became part of the Lord’s army. You are no longer wearing the world’s jersey. You are no longer wearing the devil’s jersey. You are no longer wearing the sin jersey. You are wearing the Jersey of Jesus Christ. You are on His team. Represent that jersey this week.

The old jersey included:

false hood (verse 25)

do not let the sun go down on your anger (verse 26)

do not give the devil a foothold (verse 27)

do not steel (verse 28)

let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth (verse 29)

do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (verse 30)

bitterness (verse 31)

wrath (verse 31)

anger (verse 31)

clamor (verse 31)

slander (verse 31)

malice (verse 31)

The New Jersey includes:

Truth (verse 25)

Labor with your own hands (verse 28)

Have something to share with those who have need (Verse 28)

Speak words that are good (verse 29)

Kindness (verse 32)

Tender-hearted (verse 32)

Forgiving (verse 32)

Tag line: forgiving, “just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

You notice the tag line? Forgiving. Christian, you will mess up. I will mess up. I will misrepresent Jesus and I will need to apologize and ask for forgiveness when I do. Let’s own up to our mistakes and be humble.

Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn’t share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.
What do you do when faith doesn’t make sense? When God doesn’t seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God.
Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date – May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped.
The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?”
“Sure am.”
“Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.”
“Not quite that far – do you live in Chicago?”
“I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton.”
They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.
“Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.
The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.
She extended her hand “You knew my husband?”
Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me what day that was?”
“Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.”
“Anything special about that day,” she asked.
He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. “Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.”
Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.”
“Where is your husband, Ruby?”
“He’s dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!”
(Considerable influence for this message came from John Piper’s “The Spring of Persistent Public Love”, DesiringGod.org. From a sermon by Bret Toman, Power to Live the Golden Rule, 1/3/2011)

I am now going to pray and then we will sing a song to our Lord and King. Please remain standing.


[1] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Eph 4:17–19.

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