Ephesians 4:17-32

Men's Retreat Bible Study

October 25, 1997


When a person has been changed by God's grace, it will affect the way they live.

Paul is now going to describe what those changes are like.

:17-32 New Man / Old Man

:17 that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk

The lives of the Ephesians were not to be a copy of what went on in the world.

:17 in the vanity of their mind,

vanitymataiotes – what is devoid of truth and appropriateness; perverseness; it suggests being void of useful aim or goal.

:18 Having the understanding darkened

Like having a dark cloud over their minds.

:18 because of the blindness of their heart:

blindnessporosis – the covering with a callus; dulled perception. A person who continues in a life based in the world will become more and more callused towards God, until they just won't care anymore.

:19 Who being past feeling

being past feelingapalgeo – to be so deadened in your senses that you stop feeling pain. I understand this is one reason why some people get into drugs and alcohol, because they want to stop hurting.

:19 have given themselves over unto lasciviousness …

given themselves overparadidomi – to betray; a person who lives like this is betraying themselves.

lasciviousnessaselgeia – unbridled lust, desires that know no boundaries.

greedinesspleonexia – desire to have more; they just can’t get enough "uncleanness".

:20 But ye have not so learned Christ

learnedmanthano – to learn; to learn by use and practice; it’s the root word that "disciple" is based upon (mathetes).

This is not the way they were "discipled", they were not taught to be Christians like this.

Note: Paul doesn't say, "you have not so learned about Christ", but instead, "you have not so learned Christ".


It starts with a personal relationship with Jesus.

It's not learning about Jesus. It's knowing Him.

If you've grown up thinking that a Christian is just a person who has learned about Jesus, listen up. You're not going to get to first base until you come to know Him, until you ask Him to be a part of your life, until you come to know His love and forgiveness.

:21 and have been taught by him

The way Paul has written this in the Greek is that he’s going to be reminding them now of the things that they have been taught. There are three of them (vs. 22,23,24) (all Greek infinitives)

:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

conversationanastrophe – manner of life, conduct

Our lusts and passions can be deceitful and leads us to a manner of life which is destructive. That's why we need to put these things aside.

Lesson #1:

"Put off" the old ways.

This was the first thing they had been taught.

Jesus said,

(Mat 5:29 KJV) And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

The point is not that we ought to be plucking our eyes out. The point is that we ought to do whatever is necessary to stop the sin.

Don't fool yourself by thinking that you don't need to get too radical or extreme.

As a young Christian in high school, I actually had my own subscription to Playboy magazine. I would read the magazines and feel very guilty afterwards. I would tell myself I’d never do it again. But I couldn't get rid of the magazines, after all, they might be worth money some day. Victory didn't come until I got rid of them.

Some of you have struggle with the availability of pornography on the Internet. You don’t have to. Either get off the net, or install one of the filtering programs, and have your wife put in the password so you can't take it off.

For some of you, you’re going to experience a great release from certain sins while you’re here at this retreat. Make no mistake, there’s not a lot of mystery to why. Some of it is because you’re removed from some of the sources of the temptation. Some of it is because your mind is being washed and scrubbed in the water of God’s Word. You can do this at home as well. If you want to.

It requires death.

This is what the Bible refers to as being "crucified with Christ".

It's no fun being crucified. It's painful.

:23 be renewed in the spirit of your mind

renewedananeoo – to be "new again"; it carries the idea of becoming just like something brand new, all over again.

Lesson #2:

Get a new mind.

For some of us, we need to realize that much of our struggles stem from this one area, our mind.

Paul writes,

(Rom 12:2 KJV) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

How do I "renew" my mind?

1) Wash it with God's Word.

Make God's Word the new basis for your mind's thoughts

The old, old computer adage, "Garbage in, garbage out." Make sure you put good stuff into your mind.

(John 17:17 KJV) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (also John 15:3; Eph. 5:26)

2) Change your thinking.

You have to start new mental habits.

For some of us, our minds have become so corrupt by the exposure to ungodly things, that we need to ask God for new ways of thinking about things, ways of thinking similar to what is was like before that corruption. For some, it’s not a matter of going back to old ways of thinking, it’s coming up with completely brand new ways of thinking.

This involves discipline in with our minds.

Paul writes,

(2 Cor 10:4-5 KJV) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) {5} Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

3) Establish lifelong habits.

Paul is saying, "Be constantly renewed …"

This isn't a "one time miracle", but is something that we need to keep doing all through our lives.

With some of us, we have such ingrained corrupt ways of thinking, that it’s going to take some time and self-discipline to change our thought patterns.

I’ve struggled a lot with the issue of lusting after women. For years I’ve just thought that there was nothing I could do about it, after all, I’m a guy, I have hormones, and so I’m going to lust.

I’m beginning to find that God is actually able to help me change the way I see women and think about them. It can happen.

:24 And that ye put on the new man

Put onenduo – to sink into (clothing), put on clothes

Lesson #3:

Put on the new nature.

The renewing that takes place doesn't stop with the mind, but should affect the very way that we live.

We'll see some more description of this new nature in the next few verses.

:24 which after God is created in righteousness

This "new man" is one that’s created according to God’s standards, which are righteousness and holiness.

We need to be so in love with God's portrait of the new man in Jesus, in it's purity and holiness, that we wouldn't want anything else.


Hear a new song.

From "Why Grace Changes Everything" (pg.162), by Chuck Smith:

"Those who have read the classics are probably familiar with the story of Ulysses. During his travels, this ancient adventurer heard the stories of the island of the sirens - deadly enchantresses who made such beautiful music that any sailors passing by would turn their ships toward shore and be dashed upon the rocks. No one had ever heard the song of these sirens and lived. This sounded like a worthy challenge to a daring man like Ulysses. He decided to become the first to hear this music and survive.

In order to achieve his goal, Ulysses put wax in the ears of his crew and instructed his men to tie him securely to the ship's mast. As they rowed past the island of the sirens, the seductive music began. Ulysses began to strain against the ropes, struggling to get loose so he could swim to shore. He cursed at his sailors to turn the boat toward the rocks, but the wax prevented them from hearing his cries. Ulysses continued to fight against his bonds until the ship moved out of range and into safety. Ulysses had heard the song of the sirens and lived - yet ever after he was haunted by the memory of the beguiling music.

Greek myths also tell of another ship that passed this island and yet survived. As it's crew was being drawn by the deadly melody to disaster on the shoals, a gifted man on board named Orpheus grabbed a lyre and began to play. The music of Orpheus so far surpassed that of the sirens that the men turned away from the rocks and sailed to safety, enraptured by these new, exquisite melodies that gave life."

God's desire is not that you go around in chains all day, trying to keep yourselves from temptations.

God's desire is that you hear the beautiful song of your Savior, that you would fall so in love with Him and His ways, that the old life would no longer have an appeal for you.

:24 and true holiness

holinesshosiotes – being pure and undefiled by sin and wickedness.

true holiness – better, "holiness of the truth"

It’s the truth that makes real, genuine holiness.


Get rid of the phoniness.

Learn to live in reality, in the truth.

The truth is in the Bible, and the Bible says,

As we’ve seen, it’s when we learn to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), that we start to grow up in the Lord. It’s when our lives start getting centered on the truth, on reality, that God is able to help us.

For example, God's Word says …

(1 Th 4:3 KJV) For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

Either you're obeying this, or you need help. When you admit you need help, that’s when you start growing away from sin.

:25 Wherefore

Paul’s now going to give us some concrete examples of what this all means. You could almost divide these things into two columns, one for the new man, one for the old man.

:25 putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour

Lies, falsehood, are part of the "old man".

Speaking truth is part of the "new man".

:25 for we are members one of another.

We belong to each other. When we lie to other people, we don’t just hurt ourselves, we hurt others.

:26 Be ye angry, and sin not

Paul is saying that there’s nothing wrong or sinful about being angry itself. The problem is what you do with it.


Don't sin with your anger


Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was angered by an army officer who accused him of favoritism. Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a sharp letter. Stanton did, and showed the strongly worded letter to the President. "What are you going to do with it?" Lincoln inquired.

Surprised, Stanton replied, "Send it."

Lincoln shook his head. "You don't want to send that letter," he said. "Put it in the stove. That's what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It's a good letter and you had a good time writing it and feel better. Now, burn it, and write another."

:26 let not the sun go down upon your wrath:


Don’t stay angry.

If left unresolved, anger will turn to bitterness, and bitterness will ruin you.

(Heb 12:15 KJV) Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;


Lamesa, Texan Don Nut says he and his wife have been married fifty years. He says that the secret is that they never went to bed without settling any differences between them. But Don concedes there have been times when he went ten days without sleep. -- Associated Press 10-18-90

:27 Neither give place to the devil.

placetopos – place, any portion or space marked off

When the devil comes knocking at your door, wanting to know if you have a place to rent, don’t give him even a broom closet to hang his hat in!


After reading the story of Adam and Eve a young 5 year old boy was asked what the story told him.

"Not to play with snakes," he replied without hesitation.

:28 let him labour

labourkopiao – to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief)

It’s God’s desire that His men be hard workers.

The "old man" looks out for himself. The "new man" takes care of others by working hard.

:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth

corruptsapros – rotten or putrid like rotten fruit or spoiled fish.

communicationlogos – word

Literally, "don’t let any putrid words come out of your mouth"

I wonder why we consider it such a "manly" thing to tell dirty jokes? Why just the other day I heard a joke where …

It’s certainly an "old manly" thing.

:29 but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

the use of edifying – lit., "building up others according to needs"

This is the new man.

(Prov 12:18 NASB) There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.

:30 grieve not the Holy Spirit of God

The moment that you asked Jesus to come into your life, the Holy Spirit came to live in you. In fact, you are now a "temple of the Holy Spirit". (1Cor. 6:19)

But when we live according to the "old man", then the Holy Spirit is grieved.

grievelupeo – to make sorrowful; cause grief; to make one uneasy.


Is God uneasy with the things you do?

Somehow we get the mistaken notion that if we go someplace we shouldn’t be going, like a bar or a porno shop, that God must stay outside the door, waiting for us to come out. But He doesn’t. He goes right in with you. He sees. He grieves.

:31 Let all bitterness …

These are all parts of the "old man" –

bitternesspikria – a root that produces bitter fruit; bitter hatred; unforgiveness and anger that pollutes a person's heart.

wraththumos –anger that boils up and then is over; "fits of rage"; the idea of lighting a pile of dry weeds on fire, flaming up and then burning out.

angerorge – the idea of a constantly angry person

clamourkrauge – a crying, "brawling", making a lot of noise

evil speakingblasphemia – slander, words that injure another person’s character

malicekakia – ill-will, desire to injure

:32 And be ye kind one to another …

And now here’s some of the "new man" –

kindchrestos – doing good things for people.

tenderheartedeusplagchnos – a compound word of "good" (eu) + "bowels" (splangkna); having strong bowels. For us, we see the place of emotions being in the heart. For the Greeks, it was in a person’s bowels, or their guts. So this word means "good guts", or better, "compassionate, tender hearted"

forgivingcharizomai – the word hear actually means "to be gracious", it's based on the word for grace (charis).

Your basis for forgiving others is the fact that Jesus has been gracious and has forgiven you. Has He?

Learn your lessons.

Put off the old ways. Have your mind renewed. Put on the new ways.