Praise the Lord! We are maturing in Christ, growing stronger in our faith, deeper in our love for Jesus and one another. We are… right? We are growing up into Christ, and are part of a local body of believers, with whom we are serving one another, and our Lord. I don’t believe a believer can become a mature follower of Jesus unless he or she is connected to a local church (a called out group of Jesus followers). It takes a village - a community of people – in which to grow, be a part of, serve and mature. That is what last week’s devotion was all about!
This week, we get a glimpse of what a mature believer looks like. Mature believers are no longer infants (Eph. 4:14), they are new creations who have left their old life and are walking out their newness in Christ. The exhortation to mature living is found in verses 22 & 23 – put off the old, and put on the new! Why is that so hard for some people?
I do a lot of walking. I try for about 50 kilometers per week. That is hard on shoes. Last month I bought a new pair of walking shoes. I loved the old ones, because they were familiar to me. They shaped my foot perfectly, and they were so comfortable. The problem was that the sole had worn down, and they were not giving the support I needed for my long walks. The inside felt so good, but because of the worn outside, they were actually causing me pain. I hated to part with them, but I needed to get rid of them because of the harm they were causing my feet. But they were so Comfortable and Familiar! Why is it so hard to leave the old ones, and embrace the new! I finally did make the switch and the pain went away. Walking with the new pair is so much better!
Much the same is leaving our old life behind. It’s so familiar, and even comfortable, but when we finally do switch to the new, the pain and heartache eventually goes. That old life was lived out of wrong thinking. Now we have the mind of Christ! Look at what verses 17-19 say about who we used to be – our old self:
- We had futile (empty) thinking (v.17) – our pre-Christ thoughts were selfish, aimless, immoral, and irresponsible. They were self-indulgent and idolatrous – cause if we are honest – we were our own god - We served our old man (see Eph. 2:1-3)
- We had our minds closed and full of darkness; separated from the life of God; and our hearts were hardened towards God (vs. 18 NLT – see Romans 8:7-8)
- We didn’t “care anymore about right and wrong”; we had given ourselves over to immoral ways; and our lives were filled with all kinds of impurity and greed (vs.19 NLT)
In a nutshell, we lived for ourselves! The literal text suggests that we were like wild animals just satisfying our every desire – especially our sexual ones. This is the life of an immature self-centered teenager/young adult. The problem is not their bodies, it’s their minds! Immature people living out of their desires have a mental problem – their mind can only do what it knows to do. That’s how they are wired. (Read Romans 1:21-31; Gal. 5:19-21; 1Cor. 6:9-11; Col. 3:5-8; 1Peter 4:3-4).
BUT YOU! Verse 20 emphatically declares that we are not like that anymore! Why? Because we have encountered Christ and have been taught by Him not to engage in these worldly passions anymore. We have been taught by the preaching and reading of the word of God, that this behavior is for pagans, not followers of Jesus. Through the truth that is found in Christ, our minds have been renewed. Since we are no longer led by our sinful passions, but rather by our new mind – the mind of Christ – we do not run with the same crowd, nor practice what the old gang used to do (vs. 22).
WE ARE NEW!!! And where exactly are we new? In our thinking (v.23). Our thoughts and attitudes should be different. We are new creations in Christ (1Cor. 5:17), and possess the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16). Through the new birth we experienced, we have been “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (v.24). Prior to being born again, we were the sons of Adam, born in sin and separated from God (Col. 1:21-22). Now because of Jesus, we are sons of the Father, have a new nature, and are born again into newness of life. So what is our response to this amazing reality that we have now partaken of? Our response is to live out of our newness – to put on our new “man” or nature. That means to stop thinking that we are still led by the old, and allow ourselves to be led by the new – the Spirit of God who lives in us! That is what it means to be mature. We have put childish, self-indulgent ways behind us. Now we live to serve Jesus and others, not ourselves (Rom.13:14; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:10). This is where we find true life in Christ!
Friends, I have seen first-hand, the destruction that comes to people who choose to live out of their old self. I have also experienced the joy of following Jesus by letting the newly created self live to the fullest. Let us all endeavor to put on the new self, created in Christ Jesus, so that we can experience true maturity and life in Jesus and in community.
Have a great week!