PUT ON THE NEW SELF
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 (Eph. 4:20-24).
Paul used the word ‘taught’ twice and ‘learned’ once in these few verses. This indicates the important place that learning and teaching play in a believer’s life. Unfortunately, many new Christians are expected to make their own way in their new lives, leaving them open to false ideas and vulnerable to ‘every wind of teaching’ that blows from every possible source today. Their minds are filled with a hotchpotch of confused ideas which gives them no direction fro living godly lives.
Every believer should be taught, not only the truths about the life and death of Jesus and the salvation He freely offers those who receive Him, but also the practical application of their faith in Him. Paul referred to their need to put off their old selves. What did he mean?
Were his readers aware of the reason for their sinful lives before they came to Christ? Did they know that they had inherited the nature of Adam? How important that they are taught God’s truth from the beginning. Our world has been filled with the pernicious teaching that man is just a product of evolution. According to scientific theory, there is no such thing as creation and no such person as the Creator. Humans are nothing more than superior apes! In some mysterious and unproven way, we appeared on the earth after millions of years of ‘natural selection’.
For the many thinking people, this theory leaves us with more unanswered questions than answers. Through their blindness and stubborn unbelief, scientists have spawned a universal lie which nullifies human responsibility towards their Creator. However, no matter how big or convincing the lie, or how many people have fallen for it, lies do not cancel the truth. Sin came into the world through the disobedience of one man and brought the entire human race into condemnation and subject to death.
Paul’s readers needed to know that sin corrupted their old nature and made it impossible for them to have any connection with their Creator. Jesus, the Son of God, whom the Father sent in human form to live a perfect life and to die as a substitute for sinful man, is God’s remedy for sin. Those who believe in Him and receive Him as Lord are released from the power of sin. He gives them a new nature and a new life, powered by His Holy Spirit to live in submission and obedience to Him.
Every child of God has the potential to be like his Master and to live new lives of righteousness and holiness. What does that mean? Although it is impossible for humans always to do the right thing, Jesus has given us the gift of His righteousness – His perfect obedience to the Father – which covers our sinfulness. We have a new standing before God. We are free to approach Him with confidence because He sees only the perfection of Jesus covering us.
We are freed from the power of sin to act in our everyday circumstances as Jesus would act. The Holy Spirit in us is the same Spirit that enabled Him to live a life of perfect obedience to God. It was Paul’s task, and the task of every spiritual leader to teach the believers how to live out the righteousness which Jesus had imparted to them. Just as one would undress at the end of the day and toss aside the soiled clothing, so Paul instructed his readers to take off their old sinful selves. The blood of Jesus had dealt with their past. Forgiven and cleansed, they were free to don new garments – the garments of righteousness and holiness.
In practical terms, that meant that every time they had to make a choice between doing the wrong thing and doing the right thing, they were free to choose to do right because they were ‘wearing’ their new selves, recreated in the image of their Creator.
Let’s simplify this idea even more. Selfishness and greed are the characteristics of the old nature. Before we came to Christ, we based every decision and choice on these two dominating influences. When Christ came into our lives, He gave us His new self, with the qualities of mercy and generosity which are the hallmark of God’s nature. We are to put on these qualities, that chooses to act in mercy and generosity in every situation just as deliberately as we would put on clean clothes in the morning.
Living this way rather than gratifying the desires demands of our sinful nature is a process of learning. Every decision and choice we make to do the right thing will strengthen our new nature and weaken our old nature. We will grow up into maturity in Christ as surely as a child grows to mature adulthood.
Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Col. 3:9-10).
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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