Grace For The Journey
Thursday and Friday of last week we look at “The Life Christ Gives – A Changed life.” We saw from Ephesians 4:20-21 that there are there is a four-fold process of the beginning, continuation, development, and demonstration of this life that God gives us in Christ. Paul’s point in these verses is that the changed life stems from the transformation that God works in us through the gospel. When we meet Jesus Christ personally through faith, we are changed people! Today and tomorrow we will look at what exactly are the changes are that Christ brings into our lives. We will look at Ephesians (4:22-24) to learn about these changes.
In this passage, Paul explains these changes with three infinitives (in Greek): “lay aside;” “be renewed;” and, “put on.” There are different opinions about how these infinitives function. In my opinion, the best view is that the infinitives explain the changes that took place when we trusted in Christ, but they also have the force of ongoing commands. At the moment we trusted Christ, we did in fact lay aside the old life and put on the new life. We began the process of inner renewal. But, day by day we must continue to put off the dirty old life and put on the new life in Christ, as we are renewed in the spirit of our mind.
In other words, we must live daily in light of the truth of what God says we now are. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are to live each day in light of that truth by decisively putting off the old life, being renewed in our mind, and putting on the new life. Let’s look at each of these:
(1) The changed life requires putting off the old man (4:22).
Paul’s phrase is literally, “the old man.” He identifies this as being “in reference to your former manner of life.” So, the old man refers to all that we were before we were saved, when we were ruled by the evil desires and practices of our sinful nature (see 4:19; 2:3). Paul uses the same phrase in Romans 6:6, where he says, “our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” Romans 6 is really a longer exposition of what Paul says more succinctly here.
In Romans 6 (and in Colossians 3:9), Paul refers to the putting off of the old man as an accomplished fact. When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him positionally. When He was raised from the dead, we were raised up with Him. We are to reckon these facts to be true in our daily practice, so that we will not yield to sin (Romans 611). Because in those passages Paul clearly states this putting off of the old life as a done deal, some argue that it is not something that we have to go on doing now. They contend that it was a once and for all matter that happened at the cross.
But, although we died with Christ, in other places Paul commands us to put to death our members that are on the earth (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5, literal translation). Why do we need to put to death our members if we already died?
My understanding is that we must daily apply experientially the facts that are true of us positionally. So, yes, at the moment we got saved, we put off the dirty clothes of the old life. But, every day we must reckon that this is so by putting off everything associated with the old life and putting on the new life in Christ.
Martin Lloyd-Jones uses a helpful illustration. When Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, they were officially free from their many years of servitude, but some of them went on living as if they were still slaves. The President’s proclamation gave them legal standing as free citizens. It was a done deal – they were no longer slaves. But, out of habit and way of thinking, many of these poor people still lived like slaves. So, they needed to live in accordance with the new facts. When they were tempted to think like a slave, they needed to say, “No, the truth is I am now a free man!” They needed to appropriate that truth into their daily experience.
Our old life involved a process of being corrupted by the lusts of deceit. Sin deceives us into thinking that it will give us freedom and fulfillment, but it’s a lie. Sin only defiles, enslaves, and ultimately destroys the person who is deceived by it. When Christ saved us, He liberated us from bondage to sin. We died to sin by virtue of His death on the cross. We were raised to new life in Him. Now, we must daily put off the dirty clothes of sin and put on the new clothes of righteousness and holiness in Him, because He freed us. There is still in us a strong tug toward the old life, but we do not have to yield to it. The changed life involves putting off the old man.
(2) The changed life requires being renewed in the spirit of your mind (4:23).
“Be renewed” is a present passive infinitive, which means that it is an ongoing process that God performs in us as we cooperate with Him (see Philippians 2:12-13). The renewing takes place “in the spirit of your mind.” God does the renewing as we obey Him by saturating our minds with His transforming Word of truth.
God’s Spirit performs the work of renewal in us,
But we are responsible to use the means of renewal,
Namely, His Word, which renews our hearts
And thoughts as we submit to it.
Why does Paul here refer to “the spirit of your mind?” Why not just, be renewed “in your mind” (as in Romans 12:2)? Some interpret “spirit” as the Holy Spirit, but the phrase, “of your mind” doesn’t fit with this. The Spirit isn’t a part of our minds. Others take it as the human spirit, but Paul does not use “spirit” in that way anywhere else in Ephesians. Some think that “spirit” is in apposition to “mind,” so that it means, “the spirit, which is your mind.” But, why would he say it that way? Others take it to mean, “the attitude or disposition of your mind.” Some say that it simply refers to your inner being.
Perhaps the best view is that it refers to the power and principle that regulates or controls the mind. In this sense, “the spirit of the world” (1 Corinthians 2:12) is the power and principle that controls the world, or makes it what it is. Thus, the spirit of the mind is not just mental ability, “but the power that controls and directs the abilities.” Paul means . . .
That our entire way of thinking
And what controls our thinking
We need to think in line
With God’s thoughts,
As revealed in His Word.
This means that true biblical change must not bypass the mind. Sometimes, evangelists use emotional stories, music, or a dramatic setting and then appeal to people to make a decision for Jesus. But they have bypassed the mind. Such decisions, made on the basis of emotions, will not last. God reasons with us through the truths of His Word (Isaiah 1:18). The doctrines of Scripture make sense, because they are God’s truth. When the Spirit of God opens a person’s mind to the truths revealed in the Word, the truth will result in changed emotions and changed wills. Any change that bypasses the spirit of the mind will not last.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”