At the back of my closet hangs a little piece of nostalgia.  Tucked behind Halloween costumes hangs my high school letter jacket.  Baby blue sleeves made of faux leather, and a wool royal blue torso decorated by the large fuzzy “B” representing Bartlesville High School – this piece of my history currently gets very little action.  The jacket (to my knowledge) has never been washed.  The sleeves are not quite long enough.  The style is just not really “me” anymore.

Of course, there was a day when that jacket was the most prominent piece of my wardrobe.  My high school days were largely defined by football or basketball games or track meets.  I played on lots of teams, and that jacket really identified my life during the late 80’s.  It is totally appropriate for a high school sophomore to wear his letter jacket.

It is, however, as sad for a grown man to wear his high school letter jacket as it is proper for a sophomore to wear that same jacket.  Why?  The person has changed.  High school sports no longer define me.  I have grown up and moved on.  Sure, I could put on that old jacket, but it just doesn’t fit anymore.  It is no longer my style.  It stinks!  Why would I choose to wear that when I have so many other options in my closet which are far more appropriate for who I am now?

I was thinking about this scene the other day as I read Ephesians 4:17-24.  In this challenging section of Scripture, the clear implication is that those who are in Christ are no longer who they once were.  Paul was writing to a collection of Ephesian Christians, many of whom came from a Gentile background.  People from a Gentile background were not known for their godly or moral heritage.  There was a time when the Ephesians were known for their immoral actions, futile lifestyle, and ignorance to the reality of the God who created them.  However, since trusting in Jesus Christ, all that had changed.  The identity of the Ephesian Christians was no longer dead and dying (2:1-3), but was now alive and redeemed (2:4-10).  The change in identity that we have experienced in Christ, is a total transformation, and demands a change in “style.”  No longer is it fitting for a Christian to live the lifestyle of a non-Christian (or Gentile).  A life that is spent chasing sinful pleasure fits a Christian the same way a letter jacket fits a 40 year old man.  It just looks totally out of place based on who we are now.

In Ephesians 4:22, Paul reminds us to “take off” those sinful actions which we are tempted to live out (our former/corrupt manner of life following deceitful desires).   There was a time in your life (before you trusted in Christ) when this kind of behavior fit who you were . . . but that is not who you are anymore!

Instead of wearing those outdated  actions, Paul encourages us to clothe ourselves instead with the righteous actions of Christ (4:24).  This lifestyle of pursuing holiness and righteousness was styled just for us by God Himself.  These actions show on the outside who we are today.  Not someone clinging to past “glory” in our spiritual adolescence, but someone outfitted for eternity in the presence of their Savior Jesus Christ.

The next time you are tempted to pursue sin instead of the Savior, pause for just a moment and think of how goofy that looks in light of who you are.  Living a righteous life is consistent with who we are in Him, and it never goes out of style.

This Sunday, July 13 at Wildwood Community Church, I will be preaching part 8 in our “Packed” sermon series where we will be exploring the great truth of Ephesians 4:17-32.  If you are in the area, we would love to see you in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship service.

For more resources related to this study of Ephesians click on the following links:

Packed Schedule.001


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