Putting off the Old Life and Putting on the New
by Cooper Abrams
We have a loving God who has made a wonderful plan for His children to live by. He wants the best for us and offers it to us freely, but there is one condition. We must be willing to receive it. This young man knew of his father's wealth, but let his pride and anger control his actions. He did not love or respect his father and when he thought he was not given what he wanted his true character showed. Clearly, he did not trust his father. He sinned against his father and missed the thing he most desired. Most of all he missed the years of having a close relationship with his dad. His lack of trust cost him dearly and all those years he let bitterness and an unforgiving spirit cause him great suffering. All of us want peace and joy in our lives and it is possible for us to have that in our lives.
However, most think that peace and joy is having everything go our way. Yet, our Savior knows what is best and He wants to bless us, but he cannot if we do not repent and turn from our sins. We each must accept the fact that sin and a lack of trust in our lives deprives us of God's best and we often flounder around tossed to and fro when God's peace is only a repentant prayer away.
God inspired the Apostle Paul to write this book to teach us in righteousness, which means doing what is right and what is best for us. Listen to what our God and loving Father says to us.
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)
B. Verse 18, says that their understanding is darkened because there are alienated from the life of God.
To be in the dark means one cannot see. The reason the unsaved cannot see is because they do not have true life that is only found in Jesus Christ.
God says they are ignorant, which means they do not know what is right and cannot discern truth. Their hearts are blinded because they are controlled and directed by the old nature. C. God says in verse 19 that they past feeling, meaning the natural result of rejecting Jesus Christ is to become apathetic. They just are not concerned with the Lord or doing what is right. The lost give themselves over to lasciviousness which means things that are wanton and filthy. Lasciviousness denotes the absence of restraint and decency.
Peter speaking to believers reminds them of their past sins and admonishes them to live godly lives.
"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." (1 Peter 4:1-6)
Ephesians 4:19 explains that the vain life of the unsaved produces uncleanness with is the result of greed. Greed means being selfish and caring only for oneself. The unsaved person will give love if they are given love in return, but they will turn on the one who offends them. They are unforgiving because they are selfish and pride dominates their life. It is a sad, sad picture. It may look on the outside, but inside there is a cesspool. Dear friends this is God revealing to us the truth that most of us do not want to see. D. Ephesians 4:20 is like stepping outside a horrible place and getting a breath of cool, clean, and refreshing air. "But ye have not so learned Christ."
But Paul continues, this you have not learned by Christ. The believer has been freed from having to live this terrible existence. In Christ there is peace and joy, there is purity and things are clean.
ILLUS: Doesn't it make you feel good when you go into a home that is clean, and neatly arranged? If you go into a store and it is dirty and things are not placed in order you will not likely return and shop there again. When the house is clean and in order we do not have to hide things or be ashamed for others to see it.
Likewise, the Christian who lives for Christ will naturally feel that all is well with his soul. His life reflects the purity of Jesus Christ and His righteousness. He becomes a bright light that will shine in the lives of others. He will have the satisfaction of knowing that he is pleasing his Savior and honoring Him who loved him enough to pay his sin debt.
Yet, the opposite is also true.
Paul is saying, IF one has truly heard and been taught the truth by the Lord Jesus Christ, then he should abandon the old life of living by controlled by the old corrupt nature. V22 B. IF one has truly heard and been taught the truth by the Lord Jesus Christ he will be renewed in the spirit of his mind and will put on the new man.
Living a godly life and reaping the blessing of God can begin when a person believes and receives Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, it is not automatic. God tells us we must make a choice in believing and in faith receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior. We must also believe and in faith put on the new man. The not make a decision is to reject the Lord in our lives. There is no middle ground.
Christians who are saved are given the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new nature. They then have the ability to live for Christ. They are changed and are now the children of God. They are no longer unsaved, but become a "born again" believer with a new life to live.
C. Verses 25-31 lists the sins of the flesh that have no place in the life of a child of God. God is saying His children should act like a Christian.
2. Verse 26. Anger is a God given feeling, but it can be misused. Anger should not cause us to sin. We have all heard the term "righteous indignation." Indignation at sin and that which dishonors our Lord and Savior is not sin. But it can become sin when we let it take control and cause us to hurt other people. A man who does not keep his anger or temper in check becomes the slave of that anger. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit as Ephesians 5:18 says and thereby controlled by Him.
It is easy to let our anger get out of control. But Jesus said that vengeance was His and said to His disciples "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matthew 10:16)
3. God says we are not to give place to the devil. If we let our emotions take control, we allow the devil to have his way and we dishonor the Lord Jesus. Not giving place to the devil would include not indulging in the sins and vises that our flesh desires.
5. Verse 29, addresses the language of Christians. James 3:10 says, "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh." (James 3:10-12)
Corrupt communication involves cursing, but also gossiping, backbiting, carrying tales and judgmental speaking against others. The word "corrupt" refers to something that is putrid and rotten. God says Christians are to use our tongues to speak that which is good and lifts or strengthens others, and that our speech should minister grace to others. It means that God wants to use us as ministers or instrument to give His grace to others.
James warns us of the danger of a mouth that is unchecked: "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell." (James 3:6)
God used Peter to tell us: "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." (1 Peter 3:10-12) 6. God says we should not grieve the Holy Spirit. This statement gives a warning and assurance. God says we should not cause the Holy Spirit to be sorrowful for us, but He assures us the Holy Spirit will seal us unto the day of redemption. We are eternally saved, but we are still in this old bodies and we can work against the Holy Spirit in our lives. Sin hinders us, and is a illness that keeps the Holy Spirit from being able to guide us and bring blessings in our lives. A Christian who sins makes himself sick and must endure the illness and pain it cause. All sin, no matter how small will have its destructive result in our lives.
7. Verse 31 warns of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking and malice be put away out of your life. Do you know how to do that? The cure is simple. Forgive and forget.
To overcome wrath, which means wanton passion, we must control our temper and show love and mercy to those who abuse us.
To overcome anger, which means to hold a lasting resentment we must be forgiving. To overcome clamour we must accept our circumstances and live in faith. Calmour means to make an outcry. One commentator described it as being like a horse who was angry that it had to carry its rider. We must accept our circumstances believing God. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) However, God cannot work to bring good from the difficulties of our lives if we give sin and anger a place. It will feed and grow to overcome us and rob us of our peace, with God and with others.
To put away malice. Malice is described as " "fires fed within, and not appearing to by-standers from without, are the most formidable." It is the secret pent up feelings of resentment against others. It can even be directed towards God. Malice is sin and to overcome it we must confess it to the Lord and repent of it. It we nurture malice it will consume us and all around us.
The last verse puts all harmful things to rest and paves the way toward having peace and joy in our lives. We are simply to be kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving.
This is the cure. No conflict between others can find root to grow when these three things are in control. But it takes effort and motivation. The last phrase states the motivation for the believer.
"Even as God, for Christ's sake has forgiven you."
God's plan is clear. He is telling us what we most need to hear....that is to make the love of Christ towards us the motivating cause in our lives.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29)
God knows what is best for us and wants us to be like the Lord Jesus Himself. We should be a reflection of His righteousness and purity to the world.
Think how wonderful it would be if each of us would make this commitment to the Lord to put on the new man and put off all the sins of our former lives. What a blessing that would be to ourselves and those around us.
The question then is stated in Verse 21....If it be so that you have learned Christ. This morning what is your decision? What will you do with God's loving instruction.
Will you respond in apathy as the unsaved man or in submission to the Savior who loves you. Please understand, this message is directed to each one who is here in the room. No one here is above these numerous sins. Yet, we should thank the Savior He is seeking even at this very moment to free us from sin and it destructive results.
What will you do this morning with the message Christ as spoken to us through this Epistle.
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