Ephesians 4:17-32

Best-Dressed Christian Awards

Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires … [and] be made new in the attitude of your minds … put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24

Every year after the motion picture industry’s Academy Awards, I go online to find out which celebrities made the best-dressed and worst-dressed lists. My fascination with glittering objects and dress-up clothes during childhood has never dwindled, so I enjoy seeing the one-of-a-kind designer gowns. I’m also astounded by the choices of some celebrities. What were they thinking?

God has His own best-dressed list. It has nothing to do with the clothes we wear; it has everything to do with the behaviors we model. In the first part of Ephesians 4, Paul emphasized the oneness we have as members of the Body of Christ, His Church. In verses 17-20, he lists behaviors that promote unity and those that destroy it. Maybe to coordinate with his Body of Christ metaphor, Paul chose a clothing metaphor to illustrate what attitudes and actions God’s people should model.

What puts someone on God’s worst-dressed list? First, Paul listed “futility of thinking,” which is a mindset “devoid of truth and appropriateness.”[1] That kind of thinking is manifested in ignorance, calloused hearts, sexual impurity, and the “continual lust for more” (vv. 17-19). Unfortunately, that’s the only spiritual clothing available to those who “are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God” (v.18).

But once we have heard the gospel and accepted Christ as Savior, He gives us clothing He designed—made from the divine fabric of His righteousness and holiness (vv. 20-24).

Therefore, Paul wrote, we need to permit the Holy Spirit to give us a complete makeover to complement the divinely designed clothing we’ve been given. He can fill our mouths with honesty and help us control our anger (vv. 25-26). He also recommends an exercise regimen of generosity and God-honoring labor to tone our selfish spirits (v. 28). He then adorns us with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness—accessories that complete the Christ-like image the Holy Spirit desires to create in us.

I’ve never seen a celebrity step onto the Academy Awards stage with tangled, unwashed hair or a dirt-smeared face. Every aspect of the presenters and recipients’ appearance is intended to complement the costly clothing they’re wearing. We wear the priceless garment of Christ’s righteousness. Do our attitudes and behaviors testify to its worth?

DIG DEEPER:

Compare the list of actions and attitudes unbecoming to a Christian in Ephesians 4:17-19 with the list in Romans 1:21-32. Do you need to remove any of these unsuitable traits from your spiritual closet?

Although “do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (v. 30) follows a verse about “unwholesome words,” what other ways could we cause Him sorrow according to verses 22-32?

Read Colossians 3:12-17. What other spiritual clothing is appropriate for Christians? What “binds them all together” according to verse 14?

Denise K. Loock

[1] “Greek Lexicon :: G3153 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 1 Jun, 2015. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3153&t=KJV

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