Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 30: Follow God's Example : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
October 7 2005 by Catherine Painter

Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 30: Follow God's Example : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 30: Follow God's Example

By Catherine Painter
Focal passage: Ephesians 4:22-5:2, 8-10

Acknowledge Your New Life

Eph. 4:22-24

I left teaching after our first baby's birth and served my pastor husband as his youth director.

After having enjoyed the climate surrounding youth reared by Christian principles, I returned to teaching after eighteen years, draped in my cloistered lifestyle.

My high school students compared me to Betty White's character on TV's Golden Girls: na�ve and falling for anything. Lying more effectively than I could tell the truth, some of them hoodwinked me to their sheer delight.

Finally, a colleague confided, "You cannot believe anything a student tells you." Shocked, I replied, "Then I'm not sure I can work here."

Polls reveal that lifestyles of many professing Christians differ little from those of people claiming no personal relationship with Christ. Church attendance, Bible study, and worship do not greatly impact their behavior.

Researcher George Barna commented, "People don't act like Jesus because they do not think like Jesus."

The apostle Paul might have said: "Many claiming to be born again have not 'put off their former way of life, corrupted by deceitful desires and allowed Christ to renew ... their minds'" (4:22-23).

Implement Continuing Change

Eph. 4:25-31

Our white baptismal robes symbolize "putting on the righteousness and purity of Christ." This "putting on" begins with rebirth and should continue until we die. Surveys show that a majority of Christians confess their need to implement continuing change in order to experience spiritual growth.

When did you last initiate change in order to grow spiritually? Don't worry. Paul did it for us by insisting that Ephesian Christians obey six commands to "put off" sin and "put on" Christ. Underline those you have completely accomplished.

Commandment 1: Put off falsehood. Paul wrote, "Since you put away lying, speak the truth, each to his neighbor, because we are members of one another" (Eph. 4.25).

Commandment 2: "Be angry and do not sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger" (v. 26). When we open our mouths in anger, the devil steps in. By keeping our mouths shut, we "don't give the devil an opportunity" (v. 27), and avoid resembling Tam O'Shanter's wife, described as "Gathering her brow like a gathering storm, nursing her wrath to keep it warm."

Commandment 3: Don't steal (v. 28). Frank Pollard described a boy eyeing his neighbor's apple tree. The neighbor called, "Johnny, are you trying to steal one of my apples?" "No, sir," he answered, "I'm trying not to."

Commandment 4: "No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear" (v. 29).

Commandment 5: Don't grieve God's Spirit, "who sealed you for the day of redemption" (v. 30). Read the terrible account of Israelites who perished in the wilderness even after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Num.14:11-23), and then discover God's response to anyone who grieves His Spirit (Isa. 63:10).

Commandment 6: Put off "all bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander," (v. 31). Put on kindness, "forgiving one another, as God forgave you in Christ" (v. 32). A wise Indian chief said, "Do not judge a man until you walk three months in his moccasins."

Imitate the Compassionate Father

Eph. 5:1-2, 8-10

Using today's jargon, "Behave like Christians, for God's sake!" Spiritual growth, unlike salvation, is not instantaneous but a lifelong process.

My personal strategy: review Paul's commands, confess my need for growth, ask God to show me where to begin and commit to imitating God. When deeply rooted behaviors take time to dislodge, I'll seek His compassion.

Do you thoroughly imitate Christ? If not, walk "in love, ... as children of light ... discerning what is pleasing to the Lord" (5:2, 10).

And look for me along the way.

10/7/2005 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter | with 0 comments

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