It was a rainy Saturday morning of my 2nd year in College and it was yet another football match against a local team. I was surprised I was in the team. I always thought I was making up the numbers. Others were far better. I’d run around a lot. If the ball came to me I would immediately pass it on with the attitude of ‘let me get rid of this thing’. Half-time came and as we walked off the pitch the captain of our team came alongside me and said he was going to make some changes and substitute one of the players. Immediately I offered to be substituted. It was the obvious thing to do. His response shocked me, “No. You’re one of our best players.”
In the second half I went on to that pitch a different man. I got that ball. I called for it. I ran with the ball. I tackled for the ball. I played a different game. Was the difference in my performance? Maybe, but it was definitely in my mind. All because my captain said you are more than what you think you are.
Many people are going through life not understanding who they are in Christ.
The Apostle has just insisted that God’s people should not live like those outside of Christ. He continues ….
“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: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 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..” Ephesians 4: 20-24
Paul says you have learned something different when you came into the truth of Jesus: you found out what Jesus thinks of you is different to what you thought of you.
This new man is caring, loving, anointed and I need to learn to put him on. I am created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
The old man is contrary to what God wants to do. The conflict comes because our minds are set on the old man.
We need to put off and put on.
That old man will destroy you and shame you. It is out to get you. It is not your friend. Your new man needs to get it before it gets you. It needs to put it off daily. The old man is ready to strike, whether at the time of hurt and brokenness or at the time of great blessing. It tricks us into thinking it is there to help us. But it is waiting, an opportunist, then it will rise in all its strength. I have seen wonderful people, passionate believers do things they thought they would never do. Their old man got them.
But we are not just an old man for if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come. The key to deal with the old is to deal with the new.
I choose to believe what God says about me not what people or the circumstance of my life says about me. God says I’m a new man.
Your situation may leave you disappointed but you are appointed by Christ. You may feel rejected by the one you love but you are accepted by the love of Christ. You may feel alone but the presence of Christ is all over you.
There is a place where we put off and put on. The place is the cross of Christ. We need to go there often, daily even. It is there we deal with the destruction of the old man. We put to death the anger, the jealousy, the hurt. This old man cannot handle criticism, always reacts negatively, intending to make situations worse, there is no good in it at all. We deal with it. We put him off and crucify it and we put on the new man.
Put him on.
This new man is fashioned after the Lord Jesus Christ.
It has a new mind. This new man loves people, goes the extra mile, is patient, doesn’t fear and is gentle, wise, that’s you and me, made like Jesus! How? Those wonderful words help us: “you have learned Christ.” Not about Christ but Christ.
You may be in a prison but you dwell in Christ and He in you. Christ in you, the first, foremost and the last. He must be who you wake to in the morning and who you think of when falling to sleep. During the day your thoughts are being trained to think of Christ. You learn Christ. This is a true disciple. This is the new man. The old has gone the new has come.