Living the new lifeHow to be transformed January 22, 2023
“So 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. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV
I love the book of Ephesians! From start to finish it speaks the heart of the gospel, teaching us to live by the law of the love of Christ. Reading through chapter 4 today, I was given a picture of the opposition between the new life in Christ and the old man we once were. On a weigh scale, the measure of the new man in Christ is so much weightier than the old; an astounding measure has been given to us! Significance. That’s the word. The level of significance on you has marked you of the highest quality. And this quality is so far above and beyond the normal, it outweighs its opposition easily. In fact, there’s no comparison at all. When I say that the new man is weightier, it’s the only word I have to explain the massive and momentous density of the life of Christ. If only you could place the new man vs the old man on a balance and see how the scale tips in your favor as you leave behind the old and put on the new!
Paul teaches us that the truth of who we are is in Jesus. The former old man that was corrupted by its own deceitful desires has been taken off, put away. We have put on the new man! This new man is created according to Gods likeness, in righteousness and holiness. The life of God is now residing in you by and through Jesus. The question we all ask though, is why don’t I see it? Feel it? Know it? Because your mind isn’t renewed. Yes. It’s. That. Simple.
Paul admonished the believers in Ephesus to be renewed in the spirit of their minds. What was he talking about? Well, up till now, living in the former way before we knew Christ, we lived according to the desires of our flesh. This in turn saturated our hearts and minds with darkness, impurities, and habits accordingly. When we reached the point in our lives where we realized our own depravity and reached out to God for salvation from it, He gave us a new life in Christ Jesus. His part is done in us. He gave us and made us a complete, read that word again, a complete new creation. If anyone is in Christ Jesus, the old has passed away, behold!, all things have become new! Where once there was an old sinful nature is now a new pure nature! His gift was a complete gift. We can add nothing more to Jesus to make this gift of salvation more perfect. The new life in us is a completely perfect one. Once we realize we have the whole of Him living in us, it ought to lead us to ask, what shall we do now?
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. If we really have listened to God and were instructed about the Messiah, than we also know that since what is in Christ Jesus is truth, then so far as our former way of life is concerned, which is full of lies, we must strip off the old nature. It is thoroughly rotted by its deceptive desires and yes, has implanted that within our hearts and minds so that we now crave that which is evil and not good. So, this is what we need to do. Be renewed and keep being renewed in the spirit of your mind until the habits of the former man are completely gone. Clothe yourself with the new nature. Learn what the actions of the new man are and consistently do those until they become habit. Just as the former lifestyle became habitual for you, now the new must become your new way of living. Your new nature is created to be godly and expresses itself in the righteousness and holiness that flow from the truth.
How does this renewing of the mind work? Paul gives us a few examples in Ephesians 4. He says, look, the old man was full of lying. The new man is full of truth. Therefore, in order to strip off all the falsehoods of the old, speak the truth! Speak. Speak truth with your neighbor, with fellow believers, because we are intimately related to each other as parts of a body. Speaking the truth in love, we will in every respect grow up into Him who is the head, Messiah. Under his control, the whole body is being fitted and held together by the support of every joint, with each part working to fulfill its function; this is how the body grows and builds itself up in love. We need this union with each other and the Lord. Therefore don’t isolate yourself, instead gather and speak truth with your fellow believer.
Paul goes on to say that the old man got angry and let that anger lead to sin. You know, we can be angry at sin and at the consequences we have to deal with because of sin in our world, but that anger should never lead us into sin. Be angry at sin, at immortality, at ungodly behavior, but don’t sin! Don’t let your exasperation or indignation lead you to make decisions that are sinful. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry at these things, just don’t let the passion of your emotions control you or be fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t give the devil that kind of foothold into your life.
If the old man in you had a tendency to steal, strip him of that power by doing honest work with your hands and instead of taking what isn’t yours, give of what is yours to those in need. Renewing the heart and mind requires work on our part. Yes, we have a new nature in us, but this new nature is not in our hearts and minds until we put it there. Our heart is like a house where the former old man brought in all his furniture (habits) and and made himself quite comfortable. Now that we’ve given our heart to Christ, he wants to bring in his furniture, (which by the way is of much higher quality:), but it’s up to us to get rid of the old. We must throw out the old and make room for the new. This isn’t easy sometimes, but Jesus is a great helper! Ask him to help you remove the furniture of anger, or thievery, or idolatry, or promiscuity. Whatever it is, He’s more than willing to help. I’ve also realized that I accomplish more when I simply just implement the new habits. The more time I spend in doing the new, the less power the old has over me.
Paul goes on to mention that the old man used to speak harmful rotten language. Strip this from you by speaking only good words that are helpful in the building up of someone in need. Let your words be a blessing to those who hear you. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that,"life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and the consequences of their words.” Fruit has seeds. So if our words are as fruit, we can say we are spreading seeds, or sowing to the future. With what kind of seeds are you sowing today: seeds that carry poison or seeds that will bear fruit? What we talk about and think about will eventually find expression in our behavior. Words matter. They kill or give life. Speak wisely.
Likewise, get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, violent assertiveness, slander and resentment; along with all spitefulness. Stop the fault-finding and strife. These are all characteristics of the old man. He’s no longer who you are or a part of you, so don’t tolerate those things that’s he’s brought into your heart and mind. Get rid of everything associated with him. Put on the new man! Be kind and helpful to one another, be compassionate and understanding; be loving hearted. And forgive each other, just as in the Messiah God has also forgiven you.
The best thing to do in living this new life is to simply decide to imitate God. Copy him and follow his example, just as well-beloved children would imitate their father. Mostly what God does is He loves exceptionally and powerfully. And He does it really well. Paul knew this and in the following chapter, he advises the believers to walk continually in love. That is, to value one another no matter the status they have, to practice empathy and compassion, and unselfishly seeking the best for others. This is what Christ did for us. He loved us while we were yet still his enemies and gave his life as a sacrifice, becoming our salvation. Let us watch what God does, let us draw near to His Word to learn from Him, let us keep our eyes upon Him so that our focus isn’t on any other thing or way. For we become like that which we behold. Let us behold God and be imitators of God!
Help me Holy Spirit! Be my constant reminder to behold the Lord. Lord, give us grace and strength and let this be a great season of transformation! In Jesus name we ask for this, amen.
“For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [live as those who are native-born to the Light] (for the fruit [the effect, the result] of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn [by experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [and letting your lifestyles be examples of what is most acceptable to Him—your behavior expressing gratitude to God for your salvation].”
Ephesians 5:8-10 AMP
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