Peninsula Community Church
Put On the New Man
November 4, 2018
Ephesians 4:20-24 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Scripture on several occasions speaks about exchanging the old for the new as a spiritual act of acknowledging God’s ways and His plan for our life. Paul in particular paints this picture of taking off and then putting on. In our passage today, we have a sense there is an imperative on our part to make this happen. This imperative challenges us to ponder the relationship between our faith and the ordinary affairs of our life. We all have faith to some degree and it is how we work out our faith in every day life that makes a difference.
Research shows us that how we respond to others and how people respond to us can be conditioned on what we wear. The studies show that what we wear effects us psychologically and emotionally. Reader’s Digest reported that one study suggested that what we wear can even create a greater desire in us to exercise and workout. So, what we wear is important. While physical clothing is critical, what we wear spiritually is just as critical.
In essence, Paul is exhorting us to put off our old self. He is saying change your clothes and change what you wear. Paul is saying that we should take off the vestiges of our previous life which is focused on one’s self and is motivated by sin. In place of the old self, we put on the new self which represents a life focused on Christ and a new way of living. What Paul is doing is setting up a stark comparison between the old man and the new man. The old man is ruled by deception but the new man is ruled and guided by true righteousness and holiness.
John Piper suggests that in verses 17-21 there are multiple layers of corruption we must deal with. He states that our root problem is a hardness of the heart. Because of the heart being hardened one’s understanding is darkened. A darkened understanding leads to a gross ignorance of one’s true reality. This ignorance causes individuals to yield to covetousness and licentiousness without little or no filter. This results in an insatiable desire for the wrong things. Since these desires are in not in alignment with Christ, poor choices are made over and over. This leads to a life of guilt and nothing of eternal significance is accomplished. When all is said and done, to function from the ideology of the old man causes one to be alienated from the life of God. Our hardness, darkness, ignorance, promiscuousness, and futile behavior are the marks of living dead men. But, there is hope because we can put off that old man and put on the new man that is full of life and vitality. What was hopeless now has life. What was dead is now alive.
As we read this exhortation, the wording here supports the idea that we are to do something. We cannot depend on others to take this action. It is our personal responsibility to take off the old self. It requires discipline and steadfastness to God’s plan for this new life. And yet while it is our responsibility, God empowers us to do this. He has provided the means and He has made the way for us to accomplish this task, if we will surrender to Him and take steps toward Him.
We exchange the old for the new because the old clothes represent what we were, but as Paul says this is not how you learned Christ. That is who you were, but it is not who you are now. What was in style then is no longer vogue now. We put off our old self, because we are not that person any more. We are a new creation and serve to glorify Him in this new way of life.
While the old man is based in a hardened heart and in deception, the new man is based in a heart that is alive, renewed, and focused on truth. Here, Paul instructs us to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. The new man looks a lot like God, because we are created after His likeness in true righteousness and holiness. We can live out the demands of the old self and be manipulated by the deceptive ways of our old man or we can be renewed in God’s righteousness and holiness. True holiness is contrasted with the lust of deceit which is foundational to decisions made by the old self. The new man however functions from the depths of truth. The old man is motivated by the lies of a life a part from Christ. The new man is motivated by a life founded in Christ and in relationship to Him.
We no longer have to live from the deception of sin but from the power of truth based in God’s righteousness and holiness. Notice something here. Righteousness and holiness is not something we put on. However, when we put on the new self we are taking on righteousness and true holiness. We can finally begin to live as we were created to be: righteous and holy.
While Paul exhorts us to put off the old self, he also gives us a critical step that must be taken to help us to be the person we are called to be. We do so by being renewed in the spirt of our minds. Paul knew that the mind is the one organ in the body that most effects the outcomes of our life. He knew that, in the end, the mind is the entrance way to the heart and that what we believe and what we focus on determines outcomes and determines our perspective on life.
This is a reminder of Paul’s words in Romans 12:2. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Paul is saying we can allow the old self to be conformed and manipulated by the world’s schemes and attitudes, or we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The choice we make determines the focus of our life and determines how we will live life. This is critical because we worship that which we focus on.
The renewal of our minds does not happen in a vacuum nor does it occur by osmosis. We have to take progressive steps toward making this happen. There are many things that happen to us without effort but we must take the step to renew our mind. How do we this? We do so through prescribed spiritual disciplines.
First, we must be students of God’s word. When we are students of God’s word, we begin to understand God’s purpose and plan for our life. God’s word is a textbook for living. The Bible speaks to our heart. It gives us commands to follow. It instructs us on sin to avoid. It instructs us on the knowledge of God, so we see whose we are in Him. In reading Scripture, we get to know God more, and we get to experience the grace He gives us through the pages of His written word.
We also need to engage in worship and prayer. This is not just corporate worship, but the personal prayer and worship we do in the secret place of our prayer closet. We meet with God on a personal level. It is there we experience God’s grace and power in a new and exciting ways. We pray and communicate with God. It is there we receive His support and His wisdom. We not only communicate with God, but we give Him the opportunity to communicate with us. It is in our private closet of worship and prayer where we grow and we begin to understand God more. Let me ask you. If you had an opportunity to talk to your favorite author, your greatest hero, or your favorite person in history everyday in a private setting, with no one around to interrupt you, would you do it. We have the opportunity to meet with the greatest man who ever lived every day all day. We do that through our worship and prayer.
We also renew our minds as we join in fellowship with other believers. We stimulate others in their growth and we are stimulated in our growth by their words and their actions. In fellowship, we are challenged with ideas and processes that force us to think about our ideologies and the way we think. It is the iron sharpening iron that causes our minds to be renewed. It is in fellowship that we are encouraged and we encourage others.
Paul closes this passage with a list of a number of aspects of what this life looks like when we are renewed in our mind and we are putting on the new man. Time does not allow us to look at each one of these but listen to Paul’s words of Ephesians 4:25:32. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Here is the final point. We cannot control others. We cannot be responsible for how others respond to God, but we are responsible for ourselves. We are responsible for how we walk out being a child of God and taking on the new man. Will you accept that challenge? Will you accept that new way of life? It is an adventure and an adventure worth taking. Will you wear a different set of clothes today? He will empower you to do so!
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom