THE BELIEVER IS TO WALK DIFFERENTLY FROM THE GENTILES
We must make absolutely sure that our Christian walk matches our Christian talk. Most people are familiar with the expression "practice what you preach." This is a very convenient cliche to use, but it proves to be a shallow saying when the rubber of life hits the road. The truth is this: doing what we should is always more difficult than saying what we should do.
What can you do to match your walk with your talk? What makes a Christian believer distinctive from the non-believer? The challenge for each of us is to put off the old and put on the new. Believers primarily are neither Gentiles nor Jews; they are a third race of people, they are Christians, meaning Christlike. (See Acts 11:26 and also 1 Peter 2:9)
Verses 20-21 - The Apostle Paul reminds his readers that they "have not so learned Christ." Indeed, as Christians, we know better and are tacitly thus reminded to not so walk as other gentiles walk. Indeed, as we have heard His Word and been taught thereby, we know this is the truth, even as it is in Christ Jesus.
Verse 22 - The believer is to put off the old man.
The "old man" refers to what a man is before he accepts Christ. It is the very nature of man, the natural, corruptible seed which is passed on from generation to generation and leads to death. It is what is called the Adamic nature. Paul alludes to how before we were saved, we may have so lived. That is our former conversation. The word "conversation" has the sense of manner of life, behavior, or deportment. He is referring to our “old man.” That indeed is reference to our old sinful nature. To so “put off” the old man is like taking off unclean clothing. We do it everyday. Even so, we need to deal with our old nature at least daily. When we were saved, we received a new nature. The old remains. Even as clothing will become soiled day by day and must be put off, even so must we so deal with our old nature.
Verse 23 - The believer is to be renewed in the spirit of his mind.
The believer's mind is to be renewed, which means to be made new, readjusted, changed, turned around, and regenerated. This renewal is to happen in the spirit of our mind. This would be for you and me to allow God to govern our disposition and influence our soul. In 2 Corinthians 4:16, the Apostle Paul wrote of the inner man being renewed day by day. See also Romans 12:2. Such renewal comes, in large part, through the absorption of the Word of God along with the fellowship we have with the Holy Spirit through prayer. As we spend time each day in His presence through the Scripture and prayer, our spirit will be renewed daily.
Verse 24 - The believer is to put on the new man.
The new man is regenerated, renewed, born again who has become spiritually minded. It is a new man created by Christ; he has been given a holy nature and an incorruptible life. It is opposed to the old man with a corrupt nature. It is a man who is...
· in fellowship with God.
· obedient to God's will.
· devoted to God's service.
There are two Greek words translated by the English word "new". There is the word "neos" which refers to something new that has just been made, but there are already many others existing just like it. There is the word "kainos" which refers to something new, something just made, and there is nothing like it in existence. Kainos is the word used here. Jesus Christ makes a new man entirely—a creation unlike any other creation existing.
Whereas we were enjoined to put off the soiled garment of the old man, and being renewed in the spirit of our mind, now we are directed to reach into the closet of our hearts and put on the clean garment of the new man. The thought parallels Galatians 5:16 where the Apostle directed to walk in the Spirit. Each day (and then some), we as born-again Christians are instructed to put on the new nature which God has given us. The singular alternate is to walk in the flesh which is corrupt. Paul then notes the essence of the new man. It has been “created in righteousness and true holiness.” The distinguishing characteristics of the new nature are righteousness and holiness. It is a totally different modus operandi than the flesh. According to both Ephesians 4:22 as well as Galatians 5:24, the old nature (i.e., the flesh) operates on the level of lusts and affections (i.e., feelings). The new nature operates on the infinitely higher plane of righteousness. That is, rather than considering what we want or feel like, we ask, ‘Is it right? Is it holy?’ It rather is, not my will but Thine be done. To be sure, this is walking not as other gentiles walk.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. What instructions is the Christian given in dealing with the "old man"?
2. Give some examples of how the "old man" acts when he doesn't get his way?
3. Who actually renews the mind, you or God? Explain your answer.
4. What sorts of things do you have to avoid in order to protect your mind from contamination?
5. Give some examples of how your mind is renewed.
6. What keeps you from having a renewed mind? What can you do in order to overcome these barriers?
7. How does a person become a new man?
8. What happens to that person when he puts on the new man?
9. Why do you think some Christians continue to put on the old man?
10. What area of your spiritual life needs a new start? How can you do a better job of putting on the new man?
I hope you walk the "new man" into church on Sunday and worship God with your family.
Your Friend and HIS,