Ephesians 4:20-24 - But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye 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 ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
These few verses clearly set forth the principle that the redeemed are not to stay as they are. We come as we are to be transformed into what we ought to be. While the work will not be completed until the first resurrection we must bear in mind that we have, in identifying with Christ as pictured in baptism, been "raised to walk in newness of life."
Vs: 20 - Coming to Christ does not leave us to walk as other Gentiles. Their walk is characterized by a vanity of the mind, a darkened understanding, an alienation from the life of God, and a blinded heart. Thus the imperative of verse 17, "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk . . . ."
In verse 21 the Scripture sets the stage to remind us of the truths we have heard of and been taught by Christ. It is not the teaching of men but the teachings of Christ.
Verse 22 reminds us of our responsibility relating to the old man. The old man is corrupt according to deceitful lusts. The old man is what dictated our former behaviour. The old behaviour is to be put off because it is a reflection of the old man. We clearly are being reminded that change is the expected result of coming to Christ as we are.
Verse 23 strikes at the heart of the transformation resulting from a renewal of the spirit of our minds. There are two principles that effect this renewal.
Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, . . . .
Colossians 3:10 - And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
We are renewed in the spirit of our minds as we choose to not be conformed to this world and choose to expand our knowledge of God and his Son. As we suppress the carnal and worldly influences in our lives and embrace the spiritual influences in our lives we are renewed in the spirit of our mind.
Verse 23 addresses the issue of the vacuum created by the putting off of the former conversation, the old man. We put on the new man. I can't think of a stronger image of a changed life than putting off the old man and putting on the new man. We come fully clothed in the old man with all of its deceitful lusts. We are redeemed by God's grace through the sacrifice of his son and then we are, by God's grace, not left the way we came. We put on the new man which is characterized by righteousness and true holiness.
Our challenge is to reveal the grace of God in its fullness. Accepting sinners as they are and pointing them to the Saviour and creating a culture of accountability wherein believers are being renewed in the spirit of their minds enabling them to put off the old man and put on the new.
The grace of God in accepting the sinner!
The grace of God in changing the believer!