Are we on a path toward new attitudes, new behaviours, and God’s righteousness and holiness? That’s where we want to be, isn’t it? That’s where God wants us to be. And today, Paul writes that we are to put off the old self and put on the new self…
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Paul’s comments to the Ephesian church come out of his wider points about the unity and maturity of the body of Christ, which is the church. We can turn our eyes back to verse 1 of this chapter: “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” We have a new calling on us from God and our calling relies on a new self!
Today we see that one of the aspects of a life worthy of the calling of God is to live in reflection (or perhaps more accurately in expression) of what is happening on the inside of us. If anyone be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come (2Corinthians 5:17).
Paul is telling us that we are to put off the old self and put on the new self. Put on the new creation self which God created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness.
Put it on.
And Paul is keenly aware of the Ephesian church’s problem, which I will venture to say is our problem also. We live like the world. Paul refers to living like the Gentiles, which includes all people outside of the people of God. In his time there were Jews (the people of God) and Gentiles (all other people). The language of the body of Christ is telling in terms of who the people of God were and are from Paul’s time forward.
The gospel came to the Jews, of which Jesus is one, and then was extended to the Gentiles (all other people), breaking down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles to create one new people: Jesus’ purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace (Ephesians 2:15).
And so we see that we are to not live like the people outside of the new humanity. Don’t live like the people outside of the body of Christ. Don’t live like the world…
It’s not that we want to throw the world under the bus. The world is full of people who care about the environment and give to the poor and volunteer at the food bank. The body of Christ does not have a corner on the market of benevolence and service in the world.
It is, rather, that we are to give up futile thinking and the darkness which comes from being separated from God. Why? Because that thinking and that darkness leads to the habitual life of sin instead of the habitual life of righteousness and holiness.
So how are you thinking? How are you living?
Are we on a path toward new attitudes, new behaviours, and righteousness and holiness? That’s where we want to be. That’s where God wants us to be.