. . . they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . Isaiah 40:31

Putting on the New Man

In Ephesians 4:15-16 Paul talks about the body of Christ maturing over time and growing up into Christ.

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together [framed together] and compacted [knit together, joined together, united, coalesced, united to form one body] by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working [always means supernatural working] in the measure of every part , maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

It’s the supernatural working of the individual giftings that join us together in one body. We are stuck together by that which each one supplies. I need what you have, and you need what I have. The body edifies itself when we walk together in love and unity.

In The early part of Ephesians, chapter 4, Paul has just talked about the growth process of the body of Christ that happens as the individual grace gifts operate and the body edifies itself in love. Then he says “therefore I say” in verse 17.

Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

Therefore I’m saying that from now on don’t walk like other Gentiles who walk in the perverseness and depravity of their mind. The condition of our mind affects our conduct.

Ephesians 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

It was their ignorance and blindness of heart that kept them alienated from the life of God. And it’s our ignorance and blindness of heart that will keep us alienated from the life of God.

Their understanding was darkened and they were alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and the blindness of their heart. And Paul has just said to the Ephesian church he didn’t want them to be like that. Think about it, if it were not possible for Christians to walk in ignorance and blindness of heart then Paul would not have told them not to do it.

Let’s read verse 17 and then skip to verse 22, to keep the flow of thought.

Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Paul tells the Ephesian church not to walk like other Gentiles. Then he tells them three things to do to accomplish that.

Put off the former conduct of the old man.

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

And put on the new man.

It looks like an ordered process. Stop the behavior of the old man, get your mind renewed, and then put on the new man, who is created in rightness of thinking and acting, and in true, not pretended, but true holiness.

So the first thing to do is to put off the old man, in regard to his conduct. We change our behavior. But old habits die hard. It takes some time to put off bad behavior, but the Lord is faithful to give us the grace that we need.

Here are a few of the more obvious characteristics of the old or former man:

Colossians 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath [hurting someone verbally or otherwise], malice [having hurtful intentions toward someone], blasphemy [saying things injurious to another’s good name], filthy communication out of your mouth .

Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

And the list goes on. This is only a sample of the former man’s behavior. So by the grace of God we begin to put off those things we know are wrong.

Notice verse 10.

Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

The new man is renewed in knowledge.

The Greek word translated “renewed” in this passage means to cause to grow up. The new man is caused to grow up by knowledge. It takes knowledge to change behavior. That’s where the second step of the process comes in.

Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

Romans 12:1-2 is very similar.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: [Don’t walk like other Gentiles] but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Don’t be conformed to the ways of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind. We’re transformed by the renewing of the mind.

Paul says to be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Does your mind have a spirit? Well, no, not really. But our mind does not think independently from what we believe. In fact the mind thinks directly in accordance with what we believe. So if our mind does have a spirit, a force that gives it life, then it’s what we believe, or what we could call our core belief system.

The spirit of our mind is our core belief system, and everybody has one. We think based on what we believe at our deepest level.

We initially received our belief system from our parents, who shaped us to think and be like them. Then much of what we believe came by way of our experiences. Innocent minds accept things from authority figures, like parents and teachers. We are taught to believe what everyone generally believes to be the truth. As children we stopped believing certain things we thought to be true when we discovered they weren’t true. A greater reality won out over our wrong belief.

The spirit of our mind is renewed [made to grow up] by the discovery of truth. One of the primary jobs of the Holy Spirit in our life is to help us to renovate our belief system by guiding us into all truth.

The toughest thing for us to do is to recognize that much of what we believe is probably incorrect; humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, receive with meekness the engrafted word, and allow the Lord to guide us into truth. And truth is what we need more than anything else.

This is what Matthew 5:6 is talking about.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

The righteousness He’s talking about here is the understanding of God’s thoughts and His way of doing things. It speaks of receiving the knowledge of God. Remember, the new man is renewed in knowledge, the knowledge of God. He says that those who hunger and thirst after it are blessed, that is happy, for they shall be filled.

What shall they be filled with? We are filled with the knowledge of God, the revealed truth of His word. But this knowledge does not just come automatically. It must be searched out.

This knowledge of God is referred to in Proverbs chapter two.

Proverbs 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words [through the mind], and hide my commandments with thee [in the heart];

2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom [through the mind], and apply thine heart to understanding [with the heart];

Receiving the word and inclining your ear are mental activities, hiding the word and applying your heart to understand it are spiritual activities. That spiritual activity is called meditation.<

Verse 3 speaks of the hunger for this knowledge.

Proverbs 2:3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Proverbs 2:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Cry after knowledge. Lift up your voice for understanding. This sounds like a person who really wants it, you might say a desperate person.

Hunger and thirst after righteousness, the understanding of God’s thoughts and ways. We should cry after knowledge, lift up our voice for wisdom, seek God’s wisdom as silver, and search for that wisdom as for hidden treasure.

Are we doing that or have we lost our hunger? Perhaps we’ve lost our hunger and our desire to seek the truth of God’s word. But hunger does come back if we start eating. Sometimes we don’t feel hungry until we get in front of food.

You may be wondering why we should even do this anyway. After all, it sounds like work, all this crying out for knowledge, seeking for it as for silver, and searching for it as for hidden treasure. What are the benefits? What can I hope to gain? Proverbs 2:6-11 gives the answer.

Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler [shield] to them that walk uprightly.

Proverbs 2:8 He keepeth [guards or watches over] the paths of judgment, and preserveth [keeps watch over] the way of his saints.

Proverbs 2:9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness [what is right], and judgment [right decision making], and equity [literally means evenness, straightness and smoothness]; yea, every good path [track to walk on].

Proverbs 2:10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;

Proverbs 2:11 Discretion [clever and witty thinking] shall preserve thee, understanding [intelligence] shall keep thee: [Bracketed sections added]

So then feeding on the word and seeking wisdom as for hidden treasure affects our thinking in a positive way. Matthew 13:44 gives an example of what the kingdom of God is like.

Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

Treasure has to have some value in our thinking or it’s not treasure. Do we value the knowledge of God? Are we searching after the word or have we lost our hunger? If we want to begin to change our lives drastically the way to do it is to start seeking God’s wisdom through meditation in His word. Revelation of the word will change the way we think. The spirit of our mind will be renewed, or that is, it will be caused to grow in maturity.

Use a journal (notebook) for meditation in the word.

It is helpful many times to journal our meditations, that is, to write down a scripture, and then write down what the scripture means to us, write down questions that come up as we’re thinking, and then write more as we get answers to our questions. By writing these meditations down we create a record that we can refer back to later when meditating further. When we write our meditations we are able to look at the word in an analytical manner, and the Lord leads us by His Spirit into the discovery of truth.

A good place to start meditating is the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6, and 7. This is Jesus explaining how the kingdom of God works, and much of it we haven’t yet really understood. Take some time, especially in the morning, before all the activity of the day gets started and spend some time in the word. You’ll be amazed at what the Lord will give you in the way of understanding of His truth.

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