Extreme Makeover

Title: Extreme Makeover

Bible Book: Ephesians 4 : 17-32

Author: Mark Adams

Subject: Discipleship; Change; Progress



In 2002 ABC premiered a reality show called Extreme Makeover. It was the prequel to the more popular Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and if I remember right, it ran for about three seasons. On each show one person was literally made-over physically from head to toe. They had plastic surgery done as well as extensive dental work. After they recovered from all that, they spent months with a trainer losing weight and building up muscle tone. Professional makeup artists and hairstylists did their transforming work. The person got a new wardrobe—and during the show you watched all these various parts of the person’s transformation take place. My favorite scene was of course, the big reveal—when, after the extreme makeover was complete, the completely transformed individual was seen by his or her family for the first time in many months. There was no “Move that bus!” in this show—more of an “Open that curtain!” but the change was just as dramatic. In most cases family and friends didn’t even recognize the person. That’s how EXTREME the make-overs were!

I admit I enjoyed the show—especially when a bald guy was given hair—but I always wondered if the individual would be able to maintain his or her new look without the help of all those professional trainers and hairstylists and make-up artists. I wondered, how lasting were these make-overs? In fact, that might be a good plot for a follow up TV show—one that would reveal how all those extreme made-over individuals look NOW—now that they are on their own. Perhaps the reason ABC has never done that—is because the change has not lasted. Like the story of Cinderella the transformation ended at the stroke of midnight.

I bring all this up because in our text Paul talks about a TRULY extreme makeover—one that focuses on the inner person—and the make-over he references is one that doesn’t have to go away because it is a transformation where the make-over Artist never leaves. I’m talking about the change that takes place when a person decides to follow Christ as Savior and Lord for, as it says in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come.” When we are IN CHRIST…when we invite Jesus into our lives, He comes in and STAYS. We’re never on our own. From the moment we put our faith in Him Jesus is always with us guiding and empowering us to continually change as we become more and more like Him.

Take your Bibles and turn to Ephesians 4 and listen as I read verses 17-32 where Paul describes the kind of change that a personal relationship with Jesus makes possible.

Okay—let’s go back and look more closely at the kind of extreme make-over that Paul talks about. I mean, what kind of make-over does Jesus make possible?

I. First, our Lord empowers us to THINK differently.

Look at verses 17 and 18 where Paul says, “I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord,

that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”

Notice the words and phrases Paul uses to describe how we USED to think—before we let Christ transform our mind set—before we asked Him to correct our world view. Back then, there was “futility” in our thinking. We were “ignorant.” But with His indwelling power that kind of thinking can actually change. We don’t have to embrace the world’s futility any more. We don’t have to be darkened in our understanding. If we let Him, Jesus will help us to think and perceive RIGHTLY. To remind you how EXTREME this part of Jesus’ make-over can be let’s review the kind of thinking we tend to embrace before we met Jesus.

A. For example: without Christ, people tend to focus their thoughts on SELF instead of OTHERS.

This is a flawed mind set indeed because not only does this mind set result in our belittling, and even hurting others…thinking this way also leads to nothing but loneliness and purposelessness.

Jesus taught that we must think differently when He said, “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s sake shall save it.” (Mark 8:35) In other words, when Jesus comes in He helps us to see that the focusing on self is not best way to approach life. We lose our lives when we think that way. The only way to save your life—the only way to literally GET A LIFE…the only way to beat our loneliness and feel fulfilled…is to focus on others. Putting their needs above your own—GIVING to help others—this is the right way to think. This attitude is the only way to have a life that is full of joy and meaning.

I remember an episode in the old TV Series TAXI that underscored this principle. If you remember, Christopher Lloyd played a character named Jim who’s mind wasn’t quite all there, and as you can see he looked the part! But this episode showed at least part of his brain was working correctly. His very wealthy father died and left Jim millions of dollars. In the weeks following the funeral, Jim’s friends learned that he was giving money away right and left. He was helping anyone who asked. His fellow taxi-driving friends worried about him ending up destitute and they told him he needed to stop doing that kind of thing. He needed to think more about himself. Jim heard them out but he told them it brought him great joy to help other people with his new found wealth and then he issued them a challenge. He gave them each a thousand dollars. They were to give it away to one needy person in some way and if it didn’t bring them great joy, Jim promised to stop giving away his wealth. The episode was built on little vignettes where each of his friends used the money to bless others and every single one of them came back to say, “Jim you were right. It is fun to help others. You are THINKING correctly! Keep up the good work!”

Well, this old TV show underscored a Christian principle. LIFE is found in focusing on OTHERS not on self….and Jesus can empower this kind of right thinking. He can make us over in this extreme way.

B. A second example of the futility of the world’s wrong thinking is seen in our focusing on TEMPORARY things instead of ETERNAL things.

This kind of thinking is wrong because the temporary things of this world never satisfy us. The Jews had a saying, “Who so craveth wealth is like a man who drinks salt water. The more he drinks the more he increases his thirst and he ceases not until he perishes.” Do you remember Jesus’ “thinking” on this? It’s found in Mark 8 where He asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” The answer is NOTHING because material things never bring us any real profit in life! They don’t give us lasting joy. And—thinking they will is a dead end street. The only “investment” that “yields” real joy is doing things of ETERNAL significance…embracing actions and attitudes that further God’s kingdom. I’m talking about anything that helps more people come to know and follow Jesus. That’s where the profit is! Accumulating worldly wealth never pays off in the end!

Reminds me of a true story about a famous wrestler in the late 1800′s—a European champion named “Yussif, the Terrible Turk.” He was very successful in Europe before coming to America.

Yussif challenged Strangler Lewis, our 200-pound champion grappler to a match and Yussif tossed the strangler around like a teddy bear. He won the match. The new world champ picked up what he loved the most money…$5,000 of it…which he demanded in gold. He crammed it all into the money belt he wore around his huge circumference before setting sail back to Europe on the S. S. Burgoyne. Many miles at sea, the ship began to sink. Yussif went over the side with his bulging belt of gold still strapped around his enormous frame. The added weight was too much for even the strong but Terrible Turk to stay afloat. Before lifeboats could reach him, he plunged straight to the bottom of the Atlantic, like an oversized cannon….never to be seen again. Yussif’s tragic end reminds us that as Proverbs 11:4 says, “Riches profit not in the day of wrath.” Thinking that way is foolish!

When Jesus comes in He helps us to see this. He helps us to THINK right when it comes to the things of this world and the next. He helps us to invest in things of eternal significance.

There’s one final example of the way that Jesus can transform our THINKING.

C. He can fill our minds with HOPE instead of DESPAIR.

When we invite Jesus into our hearts and lives He helps us to see that He can bring good out of the worst we experience. With His perspective we begin to think more hopeful thoughts. This is why maturing Christ-followers tend to be more optimistic! The Scriptures are full of promises that fuel this kind of thinking. And as Philippians 4:8-9 says, when we THINK on these TRUTHS we have peace. Here’s some examples of the kinds of Scriptural truth that brings this kind of mental calm. I’ve paraphrased them into the form of scripturally-based thoughts we can embrace with Jesus’ help:

Romans 8:28 – “God is working in all things for my good.”

Philippians 1:6 – “Christ will finish the work He has begun in me.”

Isaiah 38:17 – “God has turned His back on my sin.”

Hebrews 13:5 – “God will never turn His back on me.”

Ephesians 1:5 – “I belong to God and that will never change.”

2nd Corinthians 9:8 – “With God, I have access to everything I need.”

Ephesians 1:8 – “My future is bright!”

Ephesians 3:19 – “Living in God’s love is the key to living in power.”

So—Jesus wants change the way we THINK. If we let Him, He will empower us such that we no longer embrace futile thinking…ignorant thinking. With His help and guidance we begin to think right. But that’s not the extent of the extreme makeover He makes possible.

II. Jesus can also empower us to FEEL differently.

As verses 18 and 19 say, without Christ, our hearts become hardened to the point that we lose all moral sensitivity. This kind of flawed feeling manifests itself in two main ways.

First, we get to the point that we don’t feel anything in regard to the suffering of others. We become callous and indifferent about that kind of thing. Since the person without Christ tends to think only of material things and because his thoughts tend to only be of himself, his heart becomes hardened toward others, and he is no longer able to feel compassion for them.

A young man who served as pastor of a small rural church spent the summer working in the slums of Chicago. When he returned to his congregation in the fall, he shared his experiences and described the pain he felt over what he had seen. After the service, a retiree who had once lived in Chicago, said to the young pastor, “Don’t worry about it, John. You’ll get to the place where that sort of thing won’t bother you anymore.” Well—that’s not true for the person who continues to heed our Lord’s still small voice…because when we do that our Lord softens our hearts and keeps them soft. So—when we watch the news and see people standing beside their homes—homes that have been leveled by tornadoes, we FEEL their pain in our gut. We feel their despair…their loss. When we read about the victims of earthquakes and hurricanes we FEEL their loss. When we read about a three-day old baby being abducted and his mother killed, our hearts break for all involved. When we see a cripple in a wheel chair we get this pain in our gut. Let me put it this way, the more JESUS’ heart beats in our chest, the more our hearts break for others. With our Lord’s help we FEEL right—about others. The more we let Him do His extreme-makeover work—the more we weep for the hurting people in this world—even the people who suffer for their own poor choices.

Let me get a little more bold—when we let Jesus transform the way we feel, we hurt for the people who get abortions…we grieve for the people who embrace a homosexual life-style. We don’t judge them for these sins—we FEEL compassion for them—because we know their choices will not bring them the joy they could have in this life. This principle is seen in the way we FEEL about all sin. We HURT for the gossips and the liars and the adulterers. We grieve for the prideful people and the self-centered people. I mean, Jesus will help us to FEEL differently about people—all people. The more we let Jesus fix our feeling—the more we hurt for others. We feel their pain—and that’s a good thing because when we FEEL right, we respond RIGHT. Our feeling motivates us to pray and give and work to help others.

A second way this wrong-feeling—this callousness—manifests itself is when it comes to our sin.

You see, without Jesus, we get to the point where we no longer FEEL bad about those times we do what we know God doesn’t want us to do and the times we don’t do what we know He DOES want us to do. We don’t feel right about this…we become callous to our own sinful disobedience.

This week I read about a man who had some pretty serious sin problems in his life and had the Lord was dealing with him about it. He didn’t want to acknowledge the Lord, so he went to the doctor. When the doctor asked him what the trouble was, he told him, “I haven’t been living right, Doc. My conscience is really bothering me.” The doctor said, “So, I guess you want something like a pill that will strengthen your willpower?” The man looked at him funny and said, “No, I was looking for something that would weaken my conscience.” Well, people without Jesus don’t need a pill—because the more they ignore their God-given conscience, the easier it will be to do so. Let me put it this way. God gives us feelings. He gives us a conscience. We are all born with a sense of right and wrong. He made us that way. But without Jesus in us—empowering us—guiding us—that innate sense of right and wrong can quickly become distorted. You see, when we do wrong things we do we have two options.

First, we can admit that what we have done is wrong—or they can justify their sin—and we are all guilty of this. See if any of these justifications feel familiar: “Well, it’s OK. It didn’t really hurt anybody.” “But I really needed to get a good grade.” “Nobody will miss it if I only take one—besides look what I’ve given them over the years.” “Everybody’s doing it.” Embracing excuses like this is like getting a pill from the doctor that takes away guilt. After a while it works pretty well to quiet our conscience. But guess what happens? Pretty soon, people get like Paul described. They get beyond feeling.

I know a certain youth pastor who loves spicy food. You should see the collection of hot sauces he has in his office! In fact, here’s a picture! Well, I’m not as comfortable with hot spices as he is. I’m pretty much a wimp. Salt, a little pepper, ketchup, mayonnaise, yellow mustard—that’s about as spicy as I get. So, when I eat even the mildest burrito at Chipoltle, the top of my head breaks out in a cold sweat and my lips feel like they are on fire. But this youth pastor has put so many different hot sauces in his mouth that the things that bother my sensitive taste glands don’t even phase his. How many of you are like me? How many of you are like my youth pastor friend—you like hot stuff? Well—eating spicy things is not a sin—in fact, I think it’s probably good for you—but in the same way that we can become insensitive to jalapeno peppers…we can become insensitive to sin. I mean, when we are little children we have very tender consciences but as we grow, we begin to learn how to justify our sin…and over time our conscience begins to become seared. It’s not as sensitive as it was and it becomes easier to ignore the sense of right an wrong that God gave us. The more we sin, the easier it becomes…until we get to the point where as Paul says, we are beyond feeling. But when we invite Jesus to come in, He does His extreme makeover thing and then when we sin, we feel guilty. We learn to listen when the Holy Spirit pricks our conscience. We feel bad for our actions—and we act on those feelings. We confess our sin instead of justifying it or covering it up.

So…Jesus empowers us to THINK differently and FEEL differently…

III. Finally, He empowers us to ACT differently.

Look at verses 25-31 where Paul says, “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, In your anger do not sin: He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Paul has a LOT to say when it comes to Jesus’ desire to transform our actions because when it comes to extreme make-overs, our actions are where the rubber meets the road!

A. First Paul says that our Lord can change lying lips to a truthful tongue.

Unfortunately, this is a change that is greatly needed because lying, deceit, spin—whatever you call it—is so prevalent in our world. Here’s a list I came across this week that illustrates this point. It’s called “Famous American Fibs” and it highlights the deceit we embrace these days: “The check is in the mail.” “I’ll start my diet tomorrow.” “Give me your number and the doctor will call you right back.” “Money cheerfully refunded.” “One size fits all.” “This offer limited to the first 100 people who call in.” “Your luggage isn’t lost; it’s only misplaced.” “I just need five minutes of your time.” “Your table will be ready in a few minutes.” “Open wide, this won’t hurt a bit.” and my favorite, “Permanent press.” We chuckle but lying is no laughing matter—because deceit knocks the foundation out from under any relationship whether it is with a spouse or a child or a best friend. And, as Paul infers, among the most significant relationships that are damaged by our lies…are our relationships with other Christians in our church family. We must speak truthfully to each other in the church, “…for we are all members of ONE BODY.” (vs 25 )

Now, think about it. What would happen if your physical body lied to your brain? Let’s say your FINGER is touching a hot stove and says to the brain, “This doesn’t burn! No damage being done here.” Then all of a sudden your nose tells your brain the truth and you say: “Then why do I smell burning flesh?”What if your eyes lied to your legs about where you could walk? What if your ears lied to your brain about when it sounded safe to walk across a busy street? If your body worked in this deceitful way it wouldn’t be long before it was no longer functioning. And the same is true of the church. When we don’t put away truthLESSness, people become afraid to reach out. They become hesitant to move because they don’t know who they can trust. Of all places, we have to be able to trust one another here…if we are to move forward as the Body of Christ….functioning as His hands and feet in this community and world. And Jesus can empower that kind of loving, trust-building, truthfulness.

B. A second kind of change He can work when it comes to acting right…is turning uncontrolled wrath into righteous anger.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Not all anger is bad. In fact, when Jesus does His transforming work we get angry about the right things. We get angry about child abuse and angry when we see strife and division in the church…angry when we see people dragging down the name of Christ with their behavior. Those things should make us angry just like Jesus got angry when He saw the temple being turned into a money-making facility…or when the disciples tried to run off all the children. That’s righteous anger….good anger. Bad anger is when we throw a tantrum when something doesn’t go the way we wanted it to or when we lash out at others in an attempt to hurt them for hurting us. Bad anger is when we try to hurt instead of help. Bad anger is anger that leads us to sin. Paul says that when we see ourselves crossing the line into bad anger we must need to ask for our Lord’s help right away. We mustn’t let the sun go down until we’ve resolved things.

Now, when Paul says this he’s pointing out two things. First, he’s saying get it worked out before too much time passes and it festers. The devil will take advantage of that kind of procrastination.

But Paul is also using the idea of the sun going down as a metaphor for illumination. In other words, don’t turn the light off on your anger. Don’t hide it or cover it up. Let Jesus in you shine His light on it an expose it so you can see why you are angry. Is it selfishness? Is it hurt feelings? Is it pride? Ask Jesus to show you the cause so you can then repent and get His help in ridding yourself of sinful wrath and the hurtful actions that come with it.

C. Jesus can also change our actions such that we go from stealing to sharing.

Now, I would bet that most of us would never consider ourselves to be a thief. I mean, “thief” is such an ugly word. Nobody likes people who steal—Even people who don’t follow Jesus feel this way. But the fact is we all steal stuff all the time. We steal other people’s joy when we treat them badly. We steal from our boss when we waste time on the job. We steal from our families when we don’t give them the time and the love they need. We steal from the government when we cheat on our taxes. We steal from the church when we don’t serve God with the gifts He’s given us and when we don’t willingly and cheerfully give our tithes and offerings. But a transformed person doesn’t steal any longer. A transformed person works hard to give instead of take works hard to serve instead of steal works hard to share the blessings of God with those who are in need.

D. And then finally, Jesus can change destructive to constructive words.

Now—when you think about it, our mouths can only be used for two things. They can either be use to bless or to curse…to build up or to tear down. And in my life time—our culture has embraced more of the latter and less of the former. I remember reading about a foul-mouthed comedian back in the early ‘70s who came up with a whole routine based on the seven words you can’t say on television. He was arrested for performing that routine—but now all the words except one are regularly heard on TV. But—you know, it’s not the curse words that are so bad—it’s the “regular words” that we tend to use to hurt others…the gossip…the innuendo…the critical words that tear a person to pieces…the slander…the e-mail bombs that ruin someone’s day.

Of course it’s crucial that our speech be pure. But it’s also crucial that it be edifying. Let me just ask you: how many of you in this room have ever been hurt by the words of others? How many of you have used your words—written or spoken—to hurt? All hands should be up both times! Well, listen, Paul says that destructive words actually grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in you. He has sealed your salvation and is deeply saddened and hurt any time you use your words destructively. We all need God’s help in this area—we need this aspect of His extreme-makeover. We need to pray with the Psalmist, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) We need to let Jesus not just change our hearts—we need to let Him change our mouths—and He will! Jesus can fix our ACTIONS—even our verbal ones. He can help us to use our words to BUILD UP others.


Most of the time when we see how a transformed person is supposed to act, we fall short. We still struggle with sin. But that’s just the point. We struggle with it. Prior to being transformed in Christ, the old man doesn’t struggle with sin. He can’t help but lie. He can’t help but show unrighteous wrath. He can’t help but steal. He can’t help but use corrupt words. But when Jesus saves us, we can help it. He gives us the power of His Holy Spirit to resist the temptation to sin in our lives. He gives us the conviction of His Holy Spirit to remind us when we succumb to that temptation. And He gives us the strength of the Holy Spirit to confess and repent of that sin and set up safeguards so we don’t do it again. Jesus makes truly extreme make-overs possible.

You know, on that EXTREME MAKEOVER reality show, the people who were made-over shared testimonies of how all their lives they had wanted to change this or that about themselves. Some had bad teeth and had dreamed for years of teeth that were straight. Others were overweight and had looked in the mirror all their lives and wished they could be more trim. Well, I believe that in our hearts, we all yearn for the kind of make-over Jesus makes possible. We want to THINK and FEEL and ACT differently. We see ourselves in the “mirror of life” and we don’t like what we see. We hunger for righteousness. If you feel that way this morning—if you have this hunger—then it can be satisfied. You can be changed. If you ask Jesus to forgive you and come into your life He will do that. Old things can go away. All things can be made new. And, if you’re a Christ-follower and you grieve today because you realize you aren’t changing the way you should—you’re failing in one of these areas—then remember, our growth toward Christlikeness is a process. If you ask Jesus to help you get back on the right road, He will.



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