"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, 23 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." (Eph 4:21-24 ESV)I have been in Ephesians for quite some time in my personal bible reading. It has been an enriching and encouraging time. In this passage Paul contrasts the hopeless spiritual condition of those outside of Christ (v. 17-19) with believers. We are not to walk as those outside of Christ, we are to put off the old manner of life (literally the old man) and to put on the new self or new man. There are three distinct characteristics between the two:
- The old man vs. the new man (ethical categories)
- corrupt vs. created (positional categories)
- deceitful desires vs. righteousness and holiness (positional/functional categories)
The old man, with an old nature, is irredeemable, so corrupt by deceitful desires that God has to re-start with something recreated new. This is done through the miracle of new birth (John 3:1-4). Living the Christian life is the result of a supernatural miracle accomplished by God alone. He created us anew by his Spirit (John 3:5-8). He uses the imagery from Genesis 1:26-28, created in the likeness of God. Our old nature is so corrupt that God gives us a new one (2 Cor 5:17), created after the likeness of God in righteousness and holiness.
Then he goes on to tell us to put off that old man. The only reason we can put off the old way of living is that he has created us with a new nature, in God's righteousness. The hope of change in my life, is because he has given me a new nature, which is righteous and holy! I have been given a new nature and given new resources to live the Christian life. The daily struggle to live not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit is supernatural and possible because of a miracle accomplished by God and God alone!