Living the New Life

Ephesians 4:17-24


Jerry A Collins



v     Why is an unbeliever unable to discern spiritually?

v     What is it that prevents an unbeliever from faith?

v     How is a believer’s walk contrasted with unbelievers?


When Adam walked out of the garden he had a spiritual nature, which God breathed into him at his creation. But it was stained by the fall to the extent that, in both the Old and New Testaments display and teach that we now have a nature perverted by sin, making it defiled, incurable, and darkened by sin’s blindness. So we now possess a spiritual nature that makes us unacceptable to a holy God and always polluted by evil. This is what the NT calls the ‘natural man’ and all of us, believers and unbelievers, have this same nature, which Adam walked out of the garden with. Our passage describes the condition of this nature, one that believers are still capable of walking in. But now that our name has changed; now that our position has changed; now our behavior must change; our thinking must change; and our lifestyle must be changed. It will no longer due for us to walk by means of that nature We were born with—the same one Adam walked out of the garden with!


We are being told that we must not walk as the Gentiles—unbeliever walk. The reason has to do with their way of thinking. That thinking is described here. The world’s problem is a mental problem. This description comes in the form of a warning implying that as believers we can continue to display unbelieving behavior because we are still capable of seeing the world in terms of our nature we were born with.

A Note of Urgency

Affirming that the following is from the Lord, this is something we must pay attention to. Like taking someone’s chin in your hand and forcing them to look you in the eye.

Stop living as if you have no purpose 17b  The word ‘walk’ is figurative for a ‘way of life’. So stop conducting your life this way. It is a futile or empty or purposeless kind of thinking that engenders a similar kind of life. Mentally, morally and spiritually t his is how it is for unbelievers. They have no reason to look any further than the end of their nose! Apart from God that is all they have to look at. They cannot comprehend value and purpose without God’s revelation to enlighten and guide them. But they want no part of that. The natural tendency we have with our natural spirit is to think our way away form God. Intellectual pride, denials, skepticism, unbelief—I can determine what is in my best interest; alternatives and deceptions are latched onto and preferred, to belief in the gospel. This thinking is incompatible with a believers new position before God in Christ. And why do unbelievers have no purpose for a way of Life? 4 reasons:

1. They just never ‘get it’, being darkened in their understanding. They are in a perpetual state of spiritual ignorance. The truth is a vanishing act with them. They have no understanding in to the true nature of things. We can see evidence of this in the unbelievers thinking and rationale. They have alternatives to creation, sexuality, morality, economics, spirituality, character and life after death. Left to their own devices they will never be brought to the truth.

2. They are alienated form the life of God, excluded for the life of God. They are estranged form God and as such cannot tap into the wisdom, understanding, insight and perspective that kind of relationship does provide. They are out there on there own incapable of direction and living a paradigm that only condemns them further. They are lost ‘puppies’. Can you as a believer imagine living your life with any kind of purpose without a relationship with God?

3. They choose to be purposefully ignorant, because of the ignorance that is within them. Ignorance about the person of Christ forms the basis of their sinful lifestyles. The Jews ignorance about the person of Christ is the basis of their crucifixion of Christ (Acts 3:17). There is a stubborn choice to remain ignorant and close-minded about the truth of God Christ, salvation and the Bible. They would rather remain ignorant than to understand the truth.

4. They have hard hearts, because of the hardness of their hearts. The center and source of the whole life, the heart, is hardened—spiritually and mentally. This becomes the ground out of which they set their priorities, make their decisions, follow their ambitions, determine their morality, and pursue their lifestyle. It is a dangerous place to be and stay because of the consequences this purposeless life produces. These consequences compound the dilemma of the futility of an unbelieving mindset and lifestyle. First, their moral insensitivity (Callous) motivates them to be sensual 19a. This is a consequence of a purposeless life. They are giving themselves to a lifestyle immortal license. This is what Paul means when He says in Romans 1, and God gave them over in the lusts if their hearts to impurity. Judgment comes in the form of letting you have what you want. This is why sensuality is so prevalent in the world. It is evidence of having no purpose.

Second, their moral insensitivity demands more sensuality 19b. They honor a life without personal standards or social sanctions. Everything is ‘a go’ with them. Unrestrained and indulgent they cry out for more and more of it. Anything goes kicking out the props holding up a moral society. A vicious cycle of personal lust to have more. And this has been building steam since the garden. It proliferates in each succeeding generation of unbelievers until it will implode. The greed of personal interest makes them fight amongst themselves injuring and provoking one another until someone wins and someone else loses. This way of thinking and life must never ever characterize us.


First, we did not learn Christ this way 20. 1. There is relief because that list is a deadly one. 2. There is gratitude for what God has delivered me from. 3. There is hope for I now understand the truth about life. 4. There is a shift in the way I live my life now. Jesus radically altered my life and changed everything.

Second, Jesus showed us the proper way to live 21. He came from heaven with a heavenly message, perspective, priority, and thinking. He told us how they think in heaven and He showed us that life. It has no similarity to that on earth. This is how we disciple people with a heavenly perspective for life here.

Third, avoid an unbelieving lifestyle 22-24.

1. That is what you used to be but everything about you has changed 22a. A lifestyle consistent with an unbelievers is inconsistent with who you really are now in Christ. That old self was put off like you do clothes.

2. We are being transformed continually 23. Only the Spirit of God can ultimately change our lives. This is a repeated and continual process by the Spirit to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ not like our former manner of life.

3. We have put on a new person 24. This occurred when we laid aside the old one when we believed. The new growth associated with this new person is not sensuality, greediness, or purposelessness, but righteousness and holiness based on truth. As new persons we have a new kind of life, which is spelled out, in the next section.



1. We are still capable of living according to the futility of an unbelieving mind with it’s consequences.

2. The lost are lost not because of abuse, or bad environments, or lack of opportunities to better themselves but by hard hearts.

3. The process of spiritual progress is choosing to keep putting on the character of our new person.