Do you still make mistakes you thought you’d be done with by now? Are you still getting angry at the dumbest things when you feel you shouldn’t? Do you think things are so far gone there is no hope of change? I love Paul’s writings because he understands our dilemma here on Earth so much more than we ourselves do. One of the biggest problems I see today is emotional overload followed by inappropriate actions. We get offended so easily and react so violently. As a woman I have ‘been there and done that’ so many times it is embarrassing to even think about but there is hope for me to change and for you too. In Ephesians 4 Paul brings to our attention three valid truths to believe there is a hope of impending change.
- We all have the same Spirit. (4:1-6)
- The Saints are gifted by God (4:7-16)
- A new you is created by God (4:17-32)
I know on the outset this doesn’t look like it could give me hope but it will. As I look around at other Christians who can control their emotions and never seem to lack holiness I know they are that way because the Holy Spirit drew them to His way. In the whole of the Scriptures we see the Spirit at work drawing people into holiness. We watch as people have uncontrolled emotions and the havoc they reign over people while others have controlled emotions and God uses them tremendously.
Women and men are not different in this area we just struggle with different emotions. Each of us lose control and act out differently. The same Spirit is in each of us showing us all how to have true righteousness and holiness (V24). So, when you look around feeling forlorn about your lack of change you will see differently. See the hope residing in the people who have been changed and develop your own hope of change.
The Gifts of God
Sometimes we think these gifts of God are for those running a church but they are not! Read V11-13 again to see the truth. These are the gifts God supplied to us for you personally! They are specific to the Saints because they are used for equipping us and edifying us until the day we are capable of doing our ministry on our own with Jesus. I can testify this day will come because I am at a time in my walk with Jesus I need no one to teach me about Scripture except Jesus. When Paul became a minister to the Gentiles he was not taught by humans but Jesus Himself (Galatians 1:12). I do not rely on others to teach me but I still rely on my brethren to edify me. I use my gifts to edify and you should use yours for the same. When I edify someone, using what God has given me, I too feel edified especially if you grow from it. If you have indeed heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus (v21), He will bring people gifted as apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers into your life, when you need them most, to equip you and edify you to develop a hope of change.
Created by God
Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (V24). The new you Paul is talking about was also created by God according to His plan. How marvelous is that? This has the most hope attached to it because when He starts a good work He always completes it (Philippians 1:6). I know for sure my wavering emotions seemingly out of control sometimes will be brought into submission by the new me following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is a truth everyone should know. We struggle with our emotions on a daily basis with no end in sight but I am at the end of some of my emotional outbursts so I can see the future end to the rest knowing this. The new me is completely different than the old me! She still has some issues with the old me popping up in specific areas but she knows in time those issues will be dealt with. We become who God has created us to be by putting off, concerning our former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt (v22). This new me created according to God certainly gives us hope of change.
Growth is Change
This whole chapter speaks of growth. Growth is change regardless of whether we grow in corruption or grow in righteousness. Paul says in Ephesians 4 to put on the new man because that new man is endowed with the Holy Spirit who is our change agent. Since there is one in the same Spirit in us he is asking us to check our former conduct at the proverbial door. God is fully capable of removing our emotions but what’s the sense of living if you have no emotions. What’s expected of us is to learn control so the main purpose of our emotions is to edify the body then we will bring hope of change to them as well.
I know facing the facts of our uncontrolled emotions is frustrating and maddening. Every time we lose control we degrade ourselves even more and the skills we thought we had we diminish. We look at change as unsuccessful and slow. But I can assure you, if you keep at it, one day you will wake up and be faced with great change that even you didn’t notice. The Holy Spirit is so thorough at His work we won’t even notice the small changes until they all add up to the big change. As long as we have the Holy Spirit living in us we can be assured of the hope that comes from change.