Lesson 19: Positive Basis: Death of the “Old Man” Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

In verse 23 and following, we are instructed to put on the spiritual man. Christians belong to a new order, a new creation, we are a new man.

Truth as it is in Jesus(23) teaches that believers are being continually “renewed in the spiritdisposition of the mind.” This renovation should be compared with “the vanity” of mind which marked Gentiles (4:17{2]). The word translated “be renewed” is present tense, denoting something continuous and progressive in the life of the believer. It represents an experience which is the direct opposite of the growing corruptness of the old man. The first step in spiritual things is not to be repaired or overhauled—but “renewed.” We must become a new creation through the miracle of the new birth. The new birth occurs through the power of the Gospel and the operation of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we are redeemed through the power of God. We become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 1:4). We are renewed in soul, spirit, mind and heart. We are to be renewed “in the spirit of (the) mind.” The mind must think right about God before we can trust Him fully. When we think right concerning God, Christ, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, then we can walk in the newness of life—but not until we have been renewed in our minds by the power of God. God does not work on the surface… on the outside; He works on the inside.

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Finally, truth as it is in Jesus means “that ye did put on once for all the new man.” This statement is the positive counterpart of the negative in verse 22. The old man was stripped off; the “new man” is “put on.” The two acts are absolutely inseparable.

This new self (literally, “the new man or person”) has been “put on.” This means more than that my life has changed and become new. Earlier (2:15{4]) Paul had spoken about the way in which in Christ “one new man” has been created. “New” thus means “belonging to the new age inaugurated by the resurrection of Christ.” This new self of the believer has been created “after the likeness of God” “in righteousness and true holiness.” “Righteousness” in this context likely refers to our man-ward behavior, right dealing between man and man. “Holiness” on the other hand, has to do with our conduct toward God. Both are the proper fruit of embracing the truth as it is in Jesus.

Note that the “new man” is “after God.” The new man is a product of God’s power to create a new man—not to repair the old man. We are created in Christ Jesus, as we learn in Ephesians 2:10. We are created “in righteousness and true holiness.”

Christ himself became “the first new man,” “the man of the new age,” in his resurrection. When we trusted in Christ, our ties to the old Adam were broken and we put off the old man. In being united to the new Adam, by faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we also “put on the new man.”

Clearly it takes a lifetime to work out into our thinking and living all the implications of this truth. But Paul has given notice that the gospel is a message of cosmic proportions. It is no small thing to become a Christian.

We do not naturally think about ourselves this way. We need to be taught it. And we need to learn it. Better, we need to learn Christ. That will lead us to discover how our old identity has gone; we have been given a new identity in Christ.
Our lives can never be the same again.

Scripture and special notes
[1} “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
[2} “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch”(Genesis 4:17).
[3} “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17).
[4} “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;” (Ephesians 2:15).

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