10th April 2016

Old life to new life

When the apostle Paul describes what we were like before we came to know Jesus, he doesn't sugar-coat it. He says we had wrong thinking, were alienated from God, and had hard hearts (Ephesians 4:17-19). The reality of it was that we were happy on our own, wanting to rule our own lives rather than let God rule them.

Paul says we had a darkness of our minds, leading to a deadness of our souls, leading to a recklessness of our lives. The reality is that we needed a saviour. The reason that the apostle Paul outlines the bleakness of our situation before we came to know Christ, is so that we will know the new life we have now in Jesus. In this passage in Ephesians, Paul goes on to write that we have once and forever taken off our old lives, and have put on our new lives. A radical transformation has taken place. Your old life has gone!

Whether or not you feel that this is true, the Bible says you are now dead to sin and alive to righteousness. You have now put on a new self, you have a new life; you have been grafted into Christ and His life is now your life.

This is all what has happened to us already, but then in Ephesians 4:23, the tense changes, and this is now about our present, ongoing renewing of our minds. This is about little steps, walking in the right direction every day.

Last weekend I ran the Paris marathon and I think I did quite well, but when I showed one of my sons a video of it, he pointed out that I wasn't running very fast! Actually, he's right, but it's amazing the ground you can cover if you just keep going.

The Christian life is like that. It's not about running fast. It's about keeping going. It's about continuing to run or even walk in the right direction, sometimes only seeing after weeks, months or years the ground you have covered.

Renewing our minds doesn't happen automatically. We don't just sit on a heavenly escalator and wait for it to happen to us. We focus on what the Bible says until we believe it. We work it into our minds on a daily basis. And the most important time to do this is when life is hard.

Do you realise that you have been radically changed? Do you give yourself to knowing that? Don't be someone who gives more effort to knowing the football scores than to knowing what God says about you! We have a responsibility to walk out our salvation.

This new life has new characteristics. You do not become a Christian by self-improvement. The moral instructions in Ephesians aren't for those who don't know Jesus, whose moral endeavours cannot save them.

But the end of chapter 4 of Ephesians tells us that we are new people, so we are now to live life in a way that matches who we now are. We're to take off lying and put on authenticity; we're to take off selfish anger so we don't give the devil an opportunity; we're to take off stealing and put on generosity; we're to take off corrupting talk and put on encouragement; we're not to grieve the Holy Spirit; we're to take off bitterness, wrath, and anger; we're to clothe ourselves in kindness, being tender-hearted and forgiving.

We have a new identity. That old selfish life has died. It's not who we are any longer. The things we take off don't line up with our identity. The things we put on are fitting for who we now are in Christ. We are called to live lives that glorify Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit so that we can live a different way. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us! Live out who you are!

Paul Mann

Posted by Paul Mann










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