The New Life
Ephesians 4:22-24 — “That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
A NEW LIFESTYLE
As a Christian we are called to a brand-new lifestyle in Christ. The miracle of the born-again experience sets the stage for the believer to be continuously transformed. We make a major mistake in our thinking when we assume or suppose that every semblance of our old life—the way we thought, the things we desired or experienced, or attitudes that we maintained—are all swept away in a moment’s time. For His own purposes, God does not see fit to eliminate every vestige of the old life as the new life begins. In part, I believe that God intends to put the faith of the new convert through a process of testing that will both glorify Christ’s finished work, as well as stabilize and mature the believer’s faith.
The apostle Paul referred to the Christian experience as a “good fight of faith” and for good reason. In order to display this new lifestyle of holiness, the true believer must learn how to live free from the “old man,” experience what it means to be renewed, and then live a life of righteousness that brings Christ glory.
PUTTING OFF THE OLD MAN
In this section of the epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul is dealing with the lifestyle that should be displayed by each believer. Paul is exhorting the Ephesians to eliminate every aspect of their former conversation or lifestyle—that which was common to them prior to their salvation. To be assured, the moment the believing sinner expresses faith in Christ as his Saviour, he is baptized into Christ, crucified with Christ, and raised up with Christ to live in Christ from a new power source.
At this very moment the power of the sin nature is broken. The sin nature had held the place of dominion in the new believer’s heart and had corrupted his inner being and his mind. It is impossible for someone who is dominated by the sin nature to be totally transformed into the image of Christ. Believers who have changed the object of their faith from what Christ has done to what they do have opted out of God’s plan of transformation and inserted their own process. When they do this, they revive the sin nature and find themselves “cut off” from the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not leave that individual, but He is limited as to what He can do as long as the believer remains in the state of spiritual adultery.
In Romans 6:12 we are called upon to see to it that our faith does not shift from Christ and what He did, to what we do (relative to sanctification), so that the sin nature remains dormant, is rendered idle, and no longer affects us in anyway. Only after the old man is put off in this way can the renewing of the Christian take place.
BE RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND
With the sin nature silenced, it is now time for the Holy Spirit to go to work on the believer’s inward being. According to the text, the heart and mind of the person prior to salvation was continuously corrupted by “deceitful lusts.” This reveals the work of the sin nature when it is active. These are called “lusts” because they are strong ardent desires that promise to deliver happiness or security. They are “deceitful” because they never deliver the peace, joy, or abundant life that we have been led to believe they would.
In this way, wrong actions and wrong attitudes are developed. Wrong belief systems are established in the heart and mind and become strongholds in our hearts. All of this “inner mess” still remains and needs to be changed. The Greek word for “mind” in this text is not the word most commonly used for the mind. The word transliterated is “nous” and indicates not only the thinking processes of man’s mind but also includes the attitudes of his heart. Therefore, this indicates that even after salvation, the believer has to be renewed in his inner being.
The word renew is, at times, defined as “renovation.” When a house is renovated, the old is torn out, any foundation repair that is needed is done, any structural repair that is required is accomplished, and then, at the last, the new floors and walls are installed. The believer does not have the ability to renew himself. This is the job of the Holy Spirit. In the Greek text, the term renewed indicates that the subject of the sentence is being moved upon or is the recipient of the action mentioned. Therefore, every believer is renewed as the Holy Spirit tears out the remnants of the old lifestyle, repairs the believer inwardly, and then sets out to do the inward work that results in a new lifestyle.
WHAT CAUSES THE HOLY SPIRIT TO “RENEW” THE BELIEVER?
The Holy Spirit works inside of us as a result of one thing and one thing only, and that is the believer placing his or her simple faith in the finished work of Christ. The payment for our renewal was already paid for by Christ on Calvary. There is not one thing that the Holy Spirit will point out to us which requires change that hasn’t already been defeated by Christ’s victory and our union with Him. That’s why the term “put off” or “lay aside” is used relative to those things which need to be changed.
Every aspect of sin—all disobedience, every temptation, every stronghold of wrong doctrine, every wrong attitude, every wrong thinking process—had its power over us broken by Christ on the Cross of Calvary. So the believer is not called to defeat what needs to be renewed. He is instructed to “lay aside” to “put off” these wrong actions or sinful attitudes because they don't belong in the new house being built by the Holy Spirit.
If you will just recognize what doesn’t belong in the lifestyle of the new creation man, and will depend upon God’s revealed redemption plan, then no aspect of your former life will be allowed to remain. It's already been defeated by Christ, so “lay it aside,” “put it down,” “put it off!”