Putting On The New Man: Ephesians 4:17-24
Putting On The New Man: Ephesians 4:17-24By: Todd Hudnall
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind
The therefore refers back to what Paul has been saying about our high calling in Jesus Christ and the building up of the body. Because we are called to salvation, unified in the Body of Christ, gifted by the Holy Spirit, and built up by the gifted men, we should therefore … no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk. Gentiles here represent all ungodly, unregenerate, pagan persons. The words "no longer" are forceful words. That is not who we are anymore. We have a nobility of distinction. We cannot fulfill the high purposes of God by continuing to live the way the world lives. The life of faith in Christ is a counterculture not a subculture.Throughout the Bible the Kingdom of Messiah is often seen to existing in the midst of enemies. The church is alive in the Spirit but surrounded by enemies. The words kingdom and tribulation go together. From the island of Patmos the Revelator writes, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9). Acts 14:22 says, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” Paul is saying are to live this Christian lifestyle out in the middle of a pagan world. Ephesus was a wicked and perverse city.The fifth-century BC Greek philosopher Heraclitus, himself a pagan, referred to Ephesus as “the darkness of vileness. The morals were lower than animals and the inhabitants of Ephesus were fit only to be drowned.” There is no reason to believe that the situation had changed much by Paul’s day. If anything, it may have been worse. The church at Ephesus was a small island of despised people in a giant cesspool of wickedness. Most of the believers had themselves once been a part of that paganism. They frequently passed by places where they once caroused and ran into friends with whom they once indulged in debauchery. They faced continual temptations to revert to the old ways, and the apostle reminds them that through their union with Christ they have been removed from their old life. On the basis of what we are in Christ and of all God now purposes for us as His redeemed and beloved children, we are to be absolutely distinct from the rest of the world, which does not know or follow Him.
Spiritually we have already left the world and are now citizens of heaven. We are therefore not to “love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17). The world’s standards are wrong, its motives are wrong, its aims are wrong. Its ways are sinful, deceitful, corrupt, empty, and destructive. The unregenerate world walks in the futility of their mind. Futility can be translated “purposelessness.” We are to view the world with concern and understanding recognizing their lack of purpose. The word futility also means emptiness or foolishness. Outside of Christ every person is foolish, regardless of their education or IQ, because they have rejected the most basic principles of truth. In His letter to the Romans Paul tells us, man knew the truth but chose to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18). “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:21-22). When you abandon God’s truth you have to figure out life on your own. Any science or discipline, which begins with the wrong foundation, will result in foolishness. This foolishness is then accepted by the world as truth. Followers of Christ, however, have heard another voice.They know truth and have to reject the wisdom of the world.
18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart;
They are purposeless and foolish because they lack understanding. Their understanding is darkened but that does not mean their brains are impaired.They may have a brilliant mind but it has been plunged into darkness. If a genius is left in a large unfamiliar room, crowded with furniture and the lights are turned out, he will stumble and grope around until he can get to the exit door. It is almost impossible to figure out the identity of an unfamiliar object in absolute darkness. That is the state of the world. The world’s wisdom may come from intelligent people, but their minds have been darkened. Their hearts are blind and thus they are ignorant and alienated from the life of God. Once you have accepted there is no God, you do not turn to God for life. Now what they call life is really death. They can no longer discern between good and evil. The prophets said they would call bitter, sweet and sweet, bitter (Is. 5:20). Over time they develop a hardening of their heart. They have said no to God so many times, they can no longer hear God speaking.
20-21 But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
We have met and been united to Jesus. The way we have learned Christ is through a personal life-transforming encounter with Him. We are no longer fooled by the world and we are no longer to invest in anything of that mindset. In the backdrop of this wicked manner of living we are called to obedience and holiness. We cannot bring deliverance and healing to the world if we are inflicted with the same things they are. Paul says we have heard Him and have been taught by Him. To live a transformed holy life requires more than hearing about Jesus, we must hear Him. It is being with Jesus and walking with Him that makes us different. For the truth is not a dogma or a creed. The truth is in Jesus. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). The more you know Him the easier it is to put off everything that is not of Him.
22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
The Bible does not say that a Christian has two different natures. He has but one nature, the new nature in Christ. The old self dies and the new self lives; they do not coexist. It is not a remaining old nature but the remaining garment of sinful flesh that causes Christians to sin. The Christian is a single new person, a totally new creation. The believer as a total person is transformed but not yet wholly perfect. He has residing sin but no longer reigning sin (Rom. 6:14). He is no longer the old man corrupted but is now the new man created in righteousness and holiness, awaiting full salvation (Rom. 13:11). Put off means, “do it now.” Not “I’ll try it.” It is your faith choice based on the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Do it in His strength. Like if you were wearing foul spelling clothes, you must put them off. Your old life is disgusting now. "Corrupt" was used in the Greek language to describe a decaying corpse. It meant something putrid, stinking and disintegrating due to rottenness. It is like that because it is separated from the life of God. If you find anything in your new life that belongs to your old life get rid of it. "Put off" means to strip it off. Like discovering your wearing a lice ridden coat. Put it off because it doesn’t belong to you. You are a new creation so you can have nothing of the old. The old life is inconsistent with who you now are. So put off the old life and move toward your destiny. Respond to the Holy Spirit and you will remember who you were as a distant dream.
Paul is appealing to our will to do what is necessary to fulfill our calling but he is not appealing to human will power. Moses tried to conquer Egypt in his own strength. His own efforts made him a fugitive from Egypt. Moses became disenchanted with his own strength. Then forty years later He went back to deliver Israel God’s way and in God’s power. We are to submit our will to God in being willing to do His will. Then let God bring it to pass in us through the Holy Spirit. You can become enslaved in your will by past choices. Though the will may become imprisoned, you can still give your will to Jesus who will empower you to walk away.Choose to put away that which doesn’t belong.
Putting the old away is the same as Mark 8:33 when Jesus rebuked Peter saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” "Mindful" in the King James Version is translated “savourest.” The Amplified translation says, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you do not have a mind intent on promoting what God wills, but what pleases men-you are not on God’s side, but that of men.” Jesus is telling Peter, “What you are wanting is not in harmony with the purpose of God. I can’t allow you for one minute to get in my way.” We must handle self willing self the same way. Savor is to sniff it and think about it. Peter would never say, Let’s rebel against God,” but he would sniff it. Not for one minute did Jesus consider diverting from God’s will or consider the fantasy of what it might be like to go another way. Neither did Jesus get into the self-pity of, “I’d like to do that, but I can’t, I have to do the Father’s will.” That is what the idea of “put it away.” We must be willing to be made willing. To be brought to the point that we are ready to put it away. This does not happen over night. 1 Timothy 4:7 says, “exercise yourself toward godliness. Which means to train by practice or by doing. It won’t work just reading about it. We must practice putting off the old man and letting Jesus live His life through us.
23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
The "old man" died when you came to Jesus. Now there is only the new you. But our minds have been trained to think in the way of the world. Our mind has the old programs from the old life. We must be renewed in the spirit of our mind, bringing our minds up to date. Renewed could be translated update. Bring your mind up to date to who you now are. Be honest with God concerning the things in your life that are not consistent with who you now are. It is not compatible with the truth so put it off. You may be hurt but bitterness is not compatible with who you now are. If you want something you know you shouldn’t want, be honest. It begins with our thought life. You can’t prevent evil from knocking on your door, but you don’t have to let it in. Men do not have a problem with lust, little adolescent boys do. When you are a man you can tell it to go and it has to obey. Then there must be the conscience choice of actions consistent with holiness. We are taught the gospel according Freud, that we are not responsible. Freud was wrong, we are responsible. Make deliberate choices that line up with the new person you now are. Your thoughts are who you are. Your actions are only a belated announcement of who you have been the whole time. Be who you now are. Update and change the software.
24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
The word new does not mean renovated but entirely new—new in species or character. The new self is new because it has been created in the likeness of God. The Greek is literally, “according to what God is”—a staggering statement expressing the wondrous reality of salvation. Those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord are made like God! Peter says we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). In Galatians 2:20, Paul declares, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” The image of God, lost in Adam, is more gloriously restored in the second Adam, the One who is the image of the invisible God (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4-6), where Paul describes Christ as the image of God, the treasure that dwells in us. Be the new man. Christ lives in you. You must choice to be who you are. We have entire new resource in Jesus. When you put on Christ you put on His righteousness (Is. 61:10), the spirit of praise (Is. 61:3), the Holy Spirit (Lk. 24:49). Knowing we are righteous with righteousness gives us a desire to live righteous lives. Praise will always overcome the weakness of the flesh and stop the enemy. The Holy Spirit will give us the power to resist temptation and overcome sin.