The New Self
“…and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God.” (Ephesians 4:24)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:20-24
It is important to remind ourselves what is happening in this part of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He is encouraging his readers to live in a way worthy of the gospel and the new relationship they have with God in Christ. That means, first of all, that they live in unity with one another and seek, through the grace the Lord has given them, to build one another up by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:1-16).
Then secondly, it means that they are to make a complete break with the way in which the Gentile world – of which they were formerly a part – lives (v. 17). That manner of life grows out of alienation from God, an alienation that comes about through wilful rejection of the truth. Turning from God, they abandon themselves to lives dominated by sinful desires (vs. 18, 19). And that is most definitely not the way they, as new creatures in Christ, are to live.
For that is not what they learned through Christ, Paul goes on to say in the verses before us (see vs. 20, 21). If they have learned anything of him, and been taught the truth as it is in Christ, they will know that their obligation is to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (v. 22). That’s the kind of life we have been exploring in the last two devotionals. It is a horrible life really – a life that Paul here describes as “corrupt.”
It is not the way Christ teaches us to live. It belongs to our “old self”, not the new person we have become in him. “Put off that old way of life,” Paul says, and “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (vs. 22, 23). Our new life has to begin in our minds. That’s the place where the light of God’s truth breaks in as we listen to and learn from Christ. He not only changes the content of our thinking but indeed, the whole “spirit” of our minds. His truth transforms us from being self-obsessed to being God-seeking. It is no minor renovation – it is massive.
When we allow our new minds to control us, we begin to “put on” the new self – the new person that God intends us to become in Christ. That kind of person is described here as one “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (v. 24). What a glorious thing this is. God’s purpose in Christ is to restore his image in us, to make us God-like in other words. This is not in power and infinite knowledge, but in “righteousness (right living) and holiness (freedom from evil).”
How different from the old manner of conduct. Are you letting the word of Christ enter your heart and transform the way in which you live?
- Do you take the teachings of Jesus seriously as a guide for life?
- Is it evident to you and to others that there was once an “old self,” which has now given way to a “new self”?
– Andrew Young