Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The New Self

Ephesians 4:22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

22 ἀποθέσθαι ὑμᾶς κατὰ τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφὴν τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν φθειρόμενον κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης, 23  ἀνανεοῦσθαι δὲ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν 24  καὶ ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητι τῆς ἀληθείας.

Paul is cranking up the exhortations in this book.  He spent the first three chapters covering the gospel and now he starts getting into commands.  It is vital that we do not read any of these commands in a vacuum.  The assumption for all of these is that we will have appropriated the first half of the book before we try to apply the second half.  This is vital or else we are straying into legalism, which Galatians tells us does not save us.

I love this passage because of its implications for personal transformation.  I've been through some pretty serious sins in my life and I still find them tempting.  However, I do not subscribe to the AA model of "once a always a " where you fill in your personal sin (i.e. drunkenness, gluttony, lust, etc.)  Instead, I take the command of this passage to heart.

Paul is saying that we have an old self.  Remember from the early part of chapter 2 that we were dead in our trespasses and sins.  We were like the prodigal in the parable of the two sons.  We were lost.  But God transformed us from the inside-out.  He made us alive together in Christ.  That is what Paul refers to here as well.  We are to put off the old self, be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and then put on the new self.

I think that the middle is key.  How are we renewed?  We spend time in God's Word.  We spend time with God's people.  We sing songs that tell us more about God.  We avoid things that pollute our minds.  I am not a hardcore separatist, but I don't watch any TV either.  There is just too much on TV to pollute my mind.  I have to be careful when I am online (more careful than I am sometimes) so as not to feed the lust of the eyes.  It is an ongoing battle to be sure.  The word ἀνανεοῦσθαι is a present passive infinitive.  As an infinitive it is difficult to pin down exactly how to take this, but the fact that it is in the passive tells me that this is something that happens to my mind.

What are you doing to renew the spirit of your mind?  It forces me to ask myself the same question.  Sure, I have my daily quiet times and read good books, but I also know that there are more positive things I can do and I can avoid some negative things as well.  How about you?

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