…continued from Old life vs New life Part 1
Transition: BUT…that is not the way you learned in Christ!
In looking at this passage, it is important to note that these are not commands. Paul is not writing in a way where this is imperative. He is writing in a way that these are facts that believers will understand from knowing Christ.
3) Believers have been set free from the bondage of their sin and, by God’s grace, have been given a new spiritual body.
We’ve been talking a lot about the new body and new self. The question is: what is it more specifically? The term of new body or new creation is very common in Paul’s writings.
Galatians 6:12-15- “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whichthe world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”
2 Corinthians 5:17-18- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”
Colossians 3:5-15 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old selfwith its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,free; but Christ isall, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
Unbelievers behave in certain ways out of their values and believers should behave in others that reflect God’s kingdom values. Obviously, there is complexity. Many unbelievers are wonderfully nice people. They are involved in important charities and are otherwise gracious people in there lives. Some of them are devout believers of other religions that teach them to be kind and selfless.
Conversely, there are people who reflect Christ and do horrible things. There are those of us reading this post, who have this past week, struggled with one sin or another. We did engage in activities that were futile. We have acted as if we are darkened in our understanding. We have maybe at points felt alienated from God. If we have a new self given to us by the Spirit, then why do we still struggle?
Believers are indeed a new creation or self but we often go back and entertain our old self- the patterns and thoughts when we are free not to do so.
Metaphorically, this is akin to a believer going back to a graveyard, digging up their own dead body that was put to death and parading this body around town. These actions would seem to be a more disturbing version of that 80s comedy “Weekend at Bernies”.
4) Believers should renew their mind which helps us embrace the new body.
One of the key elements in putting on of the new body that God desires for us is renewing our minds. Again, Scripture reminds us that the way we think is vitally important. Thoughts proceed actions.
Jesus taught this in the sermon on the mount. The commandment is not just adultery but to not think lustfully. The commandment is not just murder but also not hating other people. Jesus challenges us to get at the very root of our behaviors which are our thoughts.
How important than becomes the fact that we are being renewed in the spirit of our minds.
Renewing the mind is a continual process of the Spirit’s work. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6- “He who began a good work will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus”. This is an eschatological term. It means that the process of being made more and more like Jesus and being purged of sin is going to be a lifelong process. A believer fully fitting into the new self will be continual work.
What are some foundational elements to think about when renewing our minds?
Worldview= Who is Jesus Christ to us? This is foundational. Worldview determines the presuppositions by which we see the world. Jesus is God incarnate and is the Lord and Savior of the world.
Truth= What is our identity in Christ? This is encouragement in a very harsh world. Who are we in Christ? We are the people that He loves unconditionally died upon a cross for and rose again to free from the trappings of our own sin and folly. We are citizens in God’s kingdom and co-heirs with Christ.
Free= Free from shame and guilt. If someone has come to Christ, repented and been forgiven, there is no need to dwell on past sins any longer. The person has been freed. There is no need to beat oneself up. Jesus says, “Go and sin no more”. He is the gracious High Priest. Guilt can destroy and rob us of joy. (Allow me to be careful here: guilt can be good in leading us to repentance but once we have repented, it should be there no longer).
Joy= We can live the lives we were created to live. We are given joy to fit into the body of Christ however we fit in with whatever talents and abilities we have. We are free to love God and love other people. Our focus should be on those two truths bringing enrichment to our lives and bringing God glory.
From these foundations of thought, we put on a new body. As we meditate upon God and His Word and seek to apply the principles and commandments to our lives, we will begin to drastically change.
Conclusion: God has chosen us. He came and died for our sins so He could change our lives. The way He changes our lives is giving us the Holy Spirit so the new creation that He has fostered in every believer will continue to grow and be made more like Christ.
Paul recognizes that these believers in Ephesus among such diversity and difference of opinions could be unified on a foundation of Christ. They do this by putting away their old selves and striving for the new body. This new body is the element that loves God and loves other people. That seeks to serve and give and encourage others.
Believers are striving to rid themselves of futility in their lives. They are seeking not to be alienated from Jesus but to draw ever closer. God Himself has made this possible. He is going to ask us to change actions/habits/behaviors. More than that, He will ask us to change some of our thinking (renewing our minds).
When we do this, we are embracing the life we were intended to have in the beginning of time. In the garden, our mission was to walk closely with God. We sinned and fell short and were separated from God by our sins. Jesus has now made a way to restore us to that original state and not just us, but all of creation that has been affected by the fall.
This starts with Jesus redeeming us and making us His children. And then, we walk with Him, putting on the new self and striving to leave the old ways far behind.
This was a sermon originally preached at King’s Cross Church on December 2, 2012. To listen to this sermon, click here: http://www.ourkingscross.org/resources/sermons/ and download “New Self vs Old Self”