Acts 5:17-21; Ephesians 4:17-5:2, 8
New things, new ideas and even new relationships sooner or later become old and, often, forgotten. The birth of a child is something wonderful: A new life has started a long journey. In this journey of life, things may change, and new things and challenges may come up that affect the way the journey ends.
People usually want their life to be a joyful and pleasant journey and so they do almost anything to achieve that. Sadly, however, no matter how hard a person tries to find and keep happiness and peace in his or her journey of life, success cannot be achieved without supernatural intervention and a change of direction.
This change is called new birth—becoming a new creation. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 we read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God.”
The Apostle Paul, in speaking to the believers in Ephesus, urged them to get rid of every trace of their past life, as if it were a dirty coat, and to put on the virtues and excellencies of Jesus Christ. “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.” (Ephesians 4:17) They were no longer Gentiles (unbelievers); they were now Christians. There should have been a corresponding change in their lives.
Apostle Paul saw the Christless world of the nations sinking in ignorance and degradation. Seven things characterized these believers.
They Were Aimless
Their lives were empty, purposeless and fruitless. There was great activity but no progress. They chose bubbles and shadows, and neglected the great realities of life.
There Were Blind
Their understanding was darkened. Because they had rejected the knowledge of the true God, they suffered blindness.
They Were Ungodly
“They were separated from the life of God… due to the hardening of their hearts.” (Ephesians 4:18)
They had rejected the light of God in creation and in conscience and had turned to idolatry.
They Were Shameless
“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more.” (Ephesians 4:19)
They Were Sensual
The chief (cardinal) sin of the nations was and still is sexual immorality. The walls of Pompeii tell the story of shame and lost decency. The same sins characterize the world today.
They Were Indecent
They gave themselves up to every kind of impure and lustful desire.
They Were Greedy
They were never satisfied. They never had enough. Their sin created an enormous appetite for more of the same thing. Their lust for more sinful pleasures was burning like fire in them, just like today.
How different all this was from the Christ whom the believers had come to know and love! He was the symbol of purity. The Bible teaches us that at the time of conversion—when we go through a metamorphosis—we put away our old self, which grows corrupt through deceitful lusts (Ephesians 4:22) The old self refers to all that a person was before his or her new birth in the family of God.
The next verse says: “To be made new in the attitude of your minds.” This means a complete aboutface in a person’s thinking, a change from mental impurity tormented by sin and guilt to a pure way of thinking and living. This is possible and it takes place when the Holy Spirit comes into a person’s life.
Now, because a person has “put off” the old person and has “put on” the new person by uniting with Christ, he or she must demonstrate this new life in his/her everyday life.
The words “put off” and “put on” are not magical words that can be used to suit our mood, environment or spiritual condition. “Putting on” the new self is not the result of someone merely saying that he or she is a Christian, but rather it is the evidence of the new life a person has in and through Jesus Christ.
The changes that take place in a believer’s life is the proof of new life, and this evidence will convince others that this new life is worth having.
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian