We’ve been working our way through the book of Ephesians, learning to identify ourselves according to God’s definitions and not those of the world or the enemy. (Click to catch up. Today we’re learning about the power we have to live righteously, which we’ve been given through the Holy Spirit.
There is a standard of right and wrong that is sort of written on our hearts, but despite our greatest efforts, none of us can live up to those standards in our own strength. That’s why, when we begin to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, believers are going to stand out so much from the rest of the world. We’re suddenly going to do things differently, because when we’re sealed by the Holy Spirit, there is a new and powerful force at work within us.
What Does it Mean that I am Sealed by the Holy Spirit?
Before we get into Ephesians 4:17-32, let’s talk about what it means to be “sealed by the Holy Spirit.” By looking back a couple chapters in Ephesians, we can get some context. Let’s look at that passage first in the ESV, and then in the NLT translations.
(ESV) – In Him you also, when you heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.
(NLT) – And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him.
Remember how in this post back in the beginning of our series we learned that God has purchased us out of our slavery to sin? Well, once we belong to Him, we need a way to be identified for who we are. We need something that proves whose we are. And so, God places His seal on us in the form of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our guarantee! He is a permanent marker that can never be removed. Once we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, we have a tangible identifier that proclaims our right to the inheritance God has promised us. When we doubt those promises will be fulfilled, we can simply look to our seal and remember, we belong to Christ!
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Towards the end of our focus passage today we find this verse:
And here is why it’s so important we understand our identity as those sealed by the Holy Spirit. You see, when we become children of God, and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, He becomes a permanent part of who we are. When we choose to rebel against that identity and live in our flesh, we are forcing the Holy Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ to become a party to our sin!
Jesus did not figuratively take our sin upon Himself on the cross. It was literal! We MUST take it seriously! We have the ability to live righteously through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. Why would we ever continue to choose our sin and bring such sorrow upon Him?
Live Righteously through the Power of the Holy Spirit Living in You
Ephesians 4:17-24 –With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
For some of us it’s easy to remember who we used to be without Christ. We know all too well about the impurity that lives in our hearts, and we have no problem admitting it. But some of us were saved at a young age and have lived pretty vanilla lives, or maybe we even genuinely think of ourselves as “good people.” Those of us in that category often have a harder time recognizing the darkness that lives in our hearts.
But make no mistake. On our own, every one of us is evil. We are motivated by selfishness even when we “do good.” It is impossible for us to live righteously on our own.
In Christ, however, that isn’t who we are anymore! When we learn the truth about Jesus; how He died to save us from that blackness in our own hearts, it changes everything! We suddenly have the ability, through Him, to throw off our old sinful nature! We can reject that identity!
As we’ve learned, the Holy Spirit has become a permanent part of who we are, and He is powerful! Through that power, we have the ability to live righteously!
Put Off the Old, Put on the New
The good news for those of you who love formulas is, harnessing the power of the Holy Spirit living in you begins with a basic x + y = z principle. Formulas aren’t super common in God’s economy, but He HAS given us one here. In order to live righteously, we must learn to put of the old, and put on the new.
Put off the old + Put on the new = Live Righteously.
So what does it look like to put off our old sinful natures and put on the new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy?
Well, it’s gonna have to start with an admission of who we are on our own. We’re going to have to fully own our inability to live righteously through any effort of our own, and admit we need the power of the Holy Spirit to take over and live through us.
We can’t just want to live righteously, or just be sorry for our sin. Instead, we have to “put off” the old man. In other words, we have to repent. That means we don’t continue to dance on the line of our sin, or continue to flirt with temptation, but we turn and RUN the other way.
How to Live Righteously
Ephesians 4:25-32 – So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.
Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Do we want to know how to live righteously? Do we want to know what it looks like to turn and run the other way when it comes to our sin? The Bible spells it out right here.
Do you have a problem with lying?
You can’t live righteously and lie, so stop telling lies. But it doesn’t end there. Don’t JUST stop telling lies. That’s not going to be enough. That’s not RUNNING the other way. Stop telling lies, AND TELL THE TRUTH! If we’re truly repentant we will actively and intentionally tell the truth in order to break our habit of telling lies and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to live a life in complete honesty.
Do you have a problem with anger?
Don’t just try to stop getting angry in the first place. If anger is our sin, we have to be active and intentional and not allow a single day to go by in which we are nursing anger in our hearts!! OUCH, am I right? Running the other way from the sin of anger looks like dealing with the anger in our hearts every single day and finding a way to resolve that anger before our head hits the pillow.
Are you a thief?
Quit stealing, sure, but RUN the other way by working hard and then GIVING generously with the profits of your labor.
Are your words a problem?
Are you mean and nasty? Do you tear people down with your words? Do you have a potty mouth? It’s time to get intentional with your words. Don’t just try to stop letting ugly stuff come out of your mouth. BE INTENTIONAL about using your words to build people up. Spend time each day saying positive and uplifting things. Don’t talk about the terrible things happening in the world, and instead talk about the good things you see God doing all around you. Don’t be crass to get a laugh, speak about what is pure and lovely to please your Savior!
Are you a sinner?
Are we bitter, full of rage, angry, mean, do we gossip and spread lies about others, and are we just plain evil? The answer is yes. That is who we are apart from Christ. That is who we are in our flesh.
God has identified us as His very own. He has filled us with the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us and has sealed us irrevocably and permanently for all of eternity. We ARE saved in eternity, though we are still working out our salvation here on earth. So let’s put off our old sinful nature and put on the Holy Spirit.
Let’s be who we ARE and live righteously by being kind, tenderhearted, and quick to forgive. Because despite the blackness of our own hearts, we have been washed clean and wholly forgiven. How can we withhold from others what God has so freely given us?
May we be IDENTIFIED by our righteousness. Not because of ourselves, but because of the power of the Holy Spirit living in us!
*How about you? Which part of the “old man” do you struggle with most? How can you put off and put on in this situation in order to harness the power of the Holy Spirit living in you and truly live righteously?
If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest of the Identified Series as we work our way through the whole book of Ephesians to discover everything God has to teach us about who we are in Him.