THE OLD AND THE NEW MAN
Ephesians 4:20-24 But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
At the time of Paul's writing, the vast Roman Empire was made up, primarily, of Gentile nations. He describes the average Gentile as walking in the vanity of their mind, without spiritual understanding, and willfully ignorant of God's word. Paul said that most Gentiles had hearts that were past feeling - unrepentant hearts, spiritually blind due a continual manner of life given to lascivious and greedy conduct (See Eph. 4:17-19). However, as Paul begins the lesson text, he tells the Ephesian Christians, But ye have not so learned Christ. In other words, Paul commends the Ephesian brethren for not being like most other Gentiles.
They had heard Paul proclaim the word of God - the truth that is in Jesus. Through Paul's teaching, they heard Jesus, and were taught by Jesus. They had been obedient to this commandment - the very words of God proclaimed on the Mount of Transfiguration:This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him (Matt. 17:5b). Unlike other pagan Gentiles, these Ephesians Christians had sought the truth, and through Paul's teaching, they found it in Christ Jesus. No doubt Paul taught them the same message contained in the words of Jesus. Remember the question posed by Thomas Jesus: how can we know the way (to salvation in heaven)?Jesus reply to Thomas was, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me (See John 14:5b-6). No doubt, this is the same message Paul delivered to the Ephesians, and having heard, they believed. The result was that they were, converted from the paganistic ways that were prevalent in the Gentile world in that day and age, and were obediently baptized into the body of Christ.
Although they were once alien sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, and walked according to the course of this world ...and were by nature the children of wrath (3:1-3), yet now, through their conversion, they were now made alive - they were quickened ...together in Christ (3:5). This marvelous transformation, which they experienced, is explained in the balance of the lesson text. To be transformed is very much akin to being changed or converted. Each of these words implies the alteration of one's character or manner of life, which makes it suitable for a different or new use.
Each level of education hones our talents and changes our abilities to assume new roles in life. As we experience proficiency in our profession, new opportunities become available to further challenge our skills. Throughout life things that are new replace old things. Old jobs give way to new, and generally better, occupations. Old residences are left when new ones are needed and purchased. New cars replace old ones that are inefficient or become too costly to maintain. Such is the transformation that takes place in one's spiritual life.
In this lesson, Paul recommended this spiritual transformation when he told the Ephesians to put off...the old man, and put on the new man. Paul defines the old man as one's former conversation,or manner of life, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. The new man, would then be described, as one's new manner of life, which, Paul says, is created in righteousness and true holiness. The life of the old man is controlled by the passions, pleasures and desires of this world, that satisfy sensual appetites. They are deceitful because, just like physical food and water, their satisfaction is only temporary.
The life of the new man is modeled after God. It is controlled by the desire for permanent satisfaction found only in seeking eternal salvation for the soul. How does this soul-saving transformation take place - how does one put off ...the old man, and put on the new man? Paul told the Roman Christians, and tells us today, Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Rom. 6:4-6). Consider this admonition of Paul. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17). Only in Christ can a new life be found!