Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is the old man dead?

A couple years ago when I was coming home from work, I was about a half a block away from the house when a kid zoomed down the neighbor's driveway and in to the street without looking; if I was about 30 feet further I would have hit him. I thought, "you idiot kid, didn't your parents teach you better than that?"....then I realized, that idiot kid was my son. I threw my truck in park, screamed at him to get in the truck, threw his bike and skateboard in the back of my truck (where I kept them for 5 days). After I got done losing my mind and he had been in his room for about an hour, I went up to "gently" explain to him why he shouldn't do that again. I am kidding, I didn't "gently" explain anything. I pleaded with him, I urged him not to do that again. Then I explained to him the potential consequences of his actions. There is no way I could communicate urgently enough.

Why was I so urgent? Obviously, because I love my son very much. If it was one of the neighbor kids, would I have been so urgent? Sadly, no. But that's just the truth. I don't want any kid to get hit by a car, but there is a different level of urgency for those you love.

This level of urgency is the love Paul has for the brethren in verse 1:
Ephesians 4:1a I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you....

What is Paul urging the reader about in verse 1? Before we look at that, ask yourself, will you heed the warning, or will you continue to “zoom in the street”?
Ephesians 4:1 ... to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

What does this manner look like? How does Paul instruct us to walk?
Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Not very many people will argue with the first 4 items on this list. Even secular “self help” gurus would have a hard time arguing that life wouldn't be better if we were more humble, gentle, patient and loving. I know my life would have been a whole lot better if I understood this; but instead I was the exact opposite of these things most of my life.

There is no doubt we are to be humble, gentle, patient and loving, all for, and to, the Glory of God.  Not for our own selfish gain, but genuine in these characteristics in all of our conduct. There is a such thing as false humility, and we need to steer clear of this deception.

When I started my business I sponged up everything I could get my hands that might help me succeed. I would make self proclamations (as instructed by Zig Ziglar). I did my best to act like I should act: however, it was entirely a striving in the flesh. If I was acting more humble, gentle, patient and loving it was (sadly) only a means to an end. There was no Holy Spirit transformation; there couldn't have been, because I wasn't saved. The last piece of the puzzle Paul mentions here is unity of the Spirit. This is what separates the “self-improvement, highly motivated” person who does not have a relationship with God, from the Christian. Not that Christians can't be highly motivated, it is just that the affections of the heart of a Christian are different. Paul makes it clear that one of the “manners” by which we should be walking is in “the unity of the Spirit”. Paul further explains that there is One Spirit, and One Body. When we are born-again, we are the Body of Christ with The Holy Spirit living in us. Therefore, the members of the body will walk in unity and be bonded together in peace with the brethren, that bond is love.
 
In addition, Paul warns us not to grieve the Holy Spirit:
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

We grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing to walk as we did before we learned of Christ:
Ephesians 4:17-19 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Is this how you learned Christ? Or have your learned of a different christ? Because the Christ of the Bible is Jesus Christ, who commands all men, everywhere, to repent, to put to death the old man:
Ephesians 4:20-24 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul goes on to point out a few things we should know about the character of this “new man”...he should:

-Put away lying and speak the truth
-Do not sin when you get angry; instead be self-controlled
-If you have harbored any bitterness in a day, do what is needed to set it aside by the end of the day as to not let it grow and become a bigger problem, giving the devil an opportunity to corrupt your witness and/or fellowship
-Do not steal
-Work hard
-Be generous
-Do not use foul language or lewd humor
-Speak only that which will encourage, instruct or uplift others
-Do not gossip or slander
-Be kind
-Be forgiving, do not harbor bitterness

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