October 2nd, 2016 There were some amazing songs from some incredibly talented artists that came out of 1987:
Lionel Ritchie—Ballerina Girl
Ben e King’s—Stand by Me
U2 had several hits that year—I still haven’t found what I’m looking for and With or Without you
So did Whitney Houston with—Didn’t we almost have it all and,
I wanna Dance with Somebody
Then there was Bon Jovi’s—Livin’ on a prayer
Gregory Abbotts—Shake you down
Heart’s incredible hit—Alone
And so many more…
But with all of those incredible artists and memorable tunes, Billboard’s number one song for the year of 1987 came from the American girl-band, The Bangles with the song: “Walk like an Egyptian.” A catchy tune, but a rather bazaar song.
So, in order to walk like an Egyptian, you would have to know how an Egyptian walks, right? And…how does an Egyptian walk? Well, if you watch the video, they show you. The song even tells you how when it says:
So strike a pose on a Cadillac So walking like an Egyptian is mimicking what at least we imagine an Egyptian walking like. It is following a pattern, a design, and manner. It is basically doing what they do.
Now this takes us right up to the threshold of our text today. I want to thank The Bangles and their important place in today’s message as we now embark upon the importance of what’s behind the idea of walking. I know it seems rather self-evident.
We all do it and there is no need to spend much time on it, right?
But let me ask you this—are we born walking or with potential to walk? Babies are not born walking—they just lay there. Parents are so excited when they roll over. They are ecstatic when they can sit up. Facebook is slammed with pictures when baby finally takes her first step, which forever changes mom’s life. Months and years later, mommy is weary from chasing the baby who has moved from simply walking potential to walking reality.
Baby becomes a toddler, then grows through middle school, teenager, and young adulthood. Those same legs now take their children to places and settings that are sometimes dangerous, destructive and off the path of common sense. The very same parents now rue the day when their children ever learned how to walk.
But are legs the problem?
Of course not—they are merely the means by which we physically move toward or away from someone or something. Legs typically don’t move by themselves; they are just there. They respond to impulses and directions provided by the core of your being—your heart/soul—the center of your will and consciousness.
So when Paul says…
17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk in the futility of their thoughts.
He is affirming that your legs are not the issue—your mind is. He is also confirming that the un-transformed mind has its own selfish agenda and is focused on how to please itself. It’s a vain and purposeless mind. Now remember, everyone not Jewish is a Gentile. Most of these believers here are Gentiles. When he says, don’t walk like a Gentile, he is not slamming them for being who they are, but rather referring to the lifestyle they have come out of—that he calls “Gentile.” BTW…Paul is not at all saying that the believers are to separate themselves from the Gentiles—they are the very goal of the Gospel: the reward of Jesus’ suffering. What he is saying is you used to think like that and walk like that, but your mind has been changed, so don’t let your minds walk the way they used to walk.
Then Paul expands on why walking this way is so detrimental to the Christian life in verse 18,
They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts.
This is a dangerous place to be—living life without all the information necessary. A few weeks ago, I shared with you from Ephesians 1; how Paul prayed for the Spirit of Wisdom, Revelation and also that the eyes of their hearts would be flooded with light.
Light displaces darkness and brings insight. But the minds of the unrighteous are darkened. And when Paul uses the word ignorance, this is the result of a darkened mind. They are the living dead. They are breathing; their hearts are pumping; they have the resemblance of life—but life without God is not life at all.
19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.
Have you ever had a callus on your feet or perhaps your hands from work or lifting weights? What has happened to your skin? It has toughened through friction and has actually died and thickened. There is no feeling in a callus. The skin isn’t naturally callused; it becomes that way through use. Paul says through the vanity of the Gentile mind, they have become emotionally hardened, unfeeling and indifferent—calloused.
A life without Christ, is one given over to the pleasures of the flesh. No matter how refined that might look—it is still a mind that is set and fixed on its own vain desires.
Then Paul reminds them in verse 22 with a very clear word picture
The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
1 Peter 4:2-3
…live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry.
The overwhelming theme here is that of discarding the former manner of life. In other words, Don’t Walk Like an Egyptian!
How many have family or friends that have put up the argument that Christianity is just a bunch of rules and regulations that keep you from enjoying life? Perhaps that was something you have had to deal with in your spiritual journey. But, when God gave the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, to Moses as a guide for how to live, it wasn’t in order to keep them from enjoying life—it was a pathway to true happiness. Think about it, When God says, “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” He was speaking from a place of reality. He knew that there was no one else out there but him and yet people found quite a few ways to put people, objects or manmade deities in front of Him.
So when God declares as a command that, You and I shall have no other gods, you need to understand—we get Him! It’s not a “no” and you get nothing—it’s a “no” to this and a “yes” to this. The life you and I are called to is not a life of “NO.” It is a life of “yes” to God and all that he has. Remember how Paul started this letter, chapter one, verse 3? You and I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Does that sound like God is holding back on you and telling you: “No, go stand in the corner.” But there has to be a separation from the past and a commitment to moving in a different direction. In a marriage ceremony, there is a line that I say to both the bride and groom that goes like this:
“Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her—in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her, so long as you both shall live.”
When a bride and groom stand before me they are becoming one in the eyes of God and the community, but if either decides not to give up their former boyfriend or girlfriend after the wedding, most of us would understand that to be rather unacceptable. The whole idea of getting married is that you are no longer available to any other. You are choosing to forsake all others. Some, however, view marriage like they do the Ten Commandments—a big “no-more-fun.” But they forget what they are getting in forsaking all others. It is no to all others, but I get you all to myself!
That’s why we read…
22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires;
But in verse 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.
Paul carries this theme in many of his other letters
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment.
Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.
To make plans is to devise; to process; to coordinate; to set a path. In my world of construction, when we talk about plans, we are talking about a detailed drawing that depicts how something is going to be. Construction drawings are not the way the house will be built—it is the way it is supposed to be built. Paul says don’t draw up plans that satisfy the flesh—don’t go there because you’ve put on Jesus Christ. Draw new plans that design a new godly pathway that glorifies God.
Do you understand the importance of having your mind upgraded, because this is calling for a worldview shift?
What, does “upgrade” mean when it comes to your phone or computer?
Doesn’t it mean to replace either the hardware or software with a more recently released or enhanced version? Doesn’t it mean better, more efficient, better performance and all of that? When Paul is saying put off the old and put on the new he is speaking about a necessary upgrade that will allow you and I to function in an entirely different stratosphere. In Romans 12:2, Paul speaks about upgrading our minds and in the process becoming transformed. That is why Paul prayed for The Holy Spirit to bring wisdom and revelation and for the core of their beings to be flooded with light.
He confirms the upgrade is a on-going process when he says…
23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds;
And though you and I have a part to play in this, we are the ones receiving the upgrade. The Spirit of God quickens our human spirit. Paul told the Colossians, in a parallel passage, the same thing:
3:10…and having put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.
What this looks like for you and for me is a daily process of using the upgrade given to us—walk in that—live that. How many of you can live without your cell phone? Very few. Do you want to go back to pagers and phone booths? Hardly. In Christ we are a new creation, everything has changed; we’ve been upgraded!
So to summarize this first section:
Keep Calm and Don’t walk like an Egyptian, that’s so last century. You’ve been upgraded, so enjoy all the blessings God has blessed you with and let your life reflect that. As we finish out this chapter, Paul gives practical applications of what that is supposed to look like.
25 Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.
He confirms what everyone knows…people lie. They stretch the truth; they fabricate to make themselves look better. But if we are new creations in Christ, is there any room at all for lying or being deceptive? Of course not. Telling the truth is foundational to our faith. When Paul uses the word “speak,” the tense he uses is a present active imperative. It’s a command that is meant to be habitual or ongoing. A form of lying or deception is a refusal to speak the truth—to be silent and not say anything. What would you think of a doctor that just told you what you wanted to hear though he knew he was withholding information? You go to the doctor because he or she is knowledgeable about your condition. And though you are not looking forward to hearing bad news, you want the truth, whether it’s bad or not.
26 Be angry and do not sin.
Paul is actually commanding two different things here. He is giving a positive command to be angry and a negative command not to sin. Anger doesn’t have to be done in sin because we know God gets angry…without sinning. There are some things to be angry over; there are injustices and wrongs that demand our anger, but how do we get angry and at the same time refuse to sin? This is tied to the last verse. If we are living in truth and speaking the truth, and love is guiding our actions and reactions, then our anger is controlled and able to be productive.
Do you know how to get angry without sinning? Not an easy thing to do, because normally our anger arises out of an expectation or desire not being met; someone crossing our path in an unacceptable manner and we take personal offense. That is the kind of anger that sins.
“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,”
This injunction sets a time frame for resolution.
27 and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. 28 The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.
30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
All the sins here destroy relationships and community. That is why the picture of putting off the old and putting on the new is imperative.
30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit…
Paul is speaking in very personal terms here. If the Spirit can be grieved it must follow that he is personal. But for most Christians, it is fairly difficult to think Spirit is personal. We can pass off our sins in a very casual way failing to realize that the Holy Spirit within us is grieved and wounded.
A few weeks ago, I spoke with you concerning Paul’s Four Dimensional prayer in chapter 3:14-21. In verse 16, Paul prayed…
I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit,
The Holy Spirit indwells us, as Christians. He has taken up residence and is indeed the One who is strengthening us with power within the very core of our being. When we sin, and miss the mark, we are no longer reflecting the image and glory of God but rather Satan and the kingdom of darkness. What does sin do to your marriage; your relationships? It causes a rift to take place. It causes pain and heartache.
Why would the Holy Spirit be grieved?
It’s like a parent that understands the setback you have caused in your life and the needless pain. And like a parent that has the resources and love to give you—they are devastated when you choose poorly. The Holy Spirit has an endless supply of wisdom, power and revelation for you and I and is extremely pained when we choose less than God’s best. Why? He longs to lavish us with the things of God and sin prevents that from happening.
Gordon Fee wrote: (God’s Empowering Presence 716)
It is as we live the life of God empowered by his Holy Spirit that we demonstrate ourselves to be the authentic people of God.
The typical distance between the first floor and the second floor of a residential home is 9’. You have an 8’ ceiling height and about a foot between floors for the floor joists. Does anyone expect to climb up the wall to get upstairs—or to jump down 9’ when you want to go downstairs? What connects the first floor and the second floor? A staircase. What actually is a stair? It breaks up the insurmountable distance into manageable easy to climb steps. You take a step one at a time. So as we climb up onto one tread then the next and the next, we progress up to a height that we could never have attained.
Paul is giving us a stair to reach far beyond what we could possibly arrive at ourselves. The Holy Spirit has provided the means by which we as Christ followers can navigate through this life as his representatives. We have already taken off the old self—so don’t try to put it back on.
1 John 2:3-6
3 This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn't keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: 6 The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.
So…Keep Calm, but Don’t walk like you used to walk.
Don’t let your mind revert back to “life is about me.”
The authentic Christian lives by the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
Your life now looks different because you have taken off the old and put on the new.
You are in fact a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away; you have been upgraded…so live that.