I find myself almost compelled to take last week’s lesson further and talk a little about the battle between the old man and the new man. Concerning the struggle, I do not want to suggest that it is for salvation that we fight, for our confidence rest in the security of Christ Jesus. There is tremendous comfort in knowing that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have been passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2nd Corinthians 5:17). That said, I often find someone in the mirror looking back at me, revealing that change is needed. My quest now is His likeness in every area of my life. So, I ask you to indulge me, but once again, I share some thoughts about the battle of transformation.
But you have not so learned Christ if indeed you have heard Him and
have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus.
As he encourages these new Gentile and Jewish Christians, he does so by reminding them that the gospel they had learned concerning Christ is “incompatible” with the futile walk of the unbelieving Gentiles. It reminds me of what Paul says to the church in Rome, “that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). In Christ, the sin that once shackled us, we now have been freed. Once again, Paul’s words cry out, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Their new Master, Jesus Christ, replaces their old master of selfish and unrestrained lives. Thus, their endeavors in life have changed as well.
“…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which
grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…”
This idea of Christians actively involved in their transformation is found many times in the scriptures. Peter urges his readers that they engage in “laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking” (1st Peter 2:1). James says something similar, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness….” Few would argue the fact that faith in Christ includes the often-arduous task of personal transformation. A real-life battle where our fleshly side (old man) battles with the Spirit within (new man). I believe it is a battle only because we need to “put off” that old man so often. I know this battle all too well. If left there, hope would seem so distant. But there is more to learn.
“…and be renewed in the Spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new
man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
The battle is not on me alone; that is, I need not fight it by myself. This word “renewed” brings forth the idea of renovating, that is, to reform. But it is something that is being done through you by God. As one person put it, “the renewal here urged is not ‘self-renewal’ but that which is worked in the believer by God’s renewing power.” I indeed assume some level of responsibility because God calls me to “put on the new man.” That said, it appears that I choose transformation, and God empowers me to accomplish it.
So, what is the point of all this? For me, it is simple yet challenging. The message that called me so many years ago still speaks to me now. This message reminds me of the amazing grace provided through Christ. Yet, that same message of hope also reveals to me that change is needed. So often, that is where the battle is most fierce. Thank You, Lord, for providing the truth and power to change. Now Lord, increase my faith so change can take place.