“You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4: 20-25 New International Version
What is it that drives you in your life? What compels you to keep going day after day, seeking to continue living? What is it you want from life? What do you think God wants for your life, and how far apart are your desires from the desires you believe God has for you? When was the last time you knew you were headed in the right direction, and how did/do you know?
I know, those are a whole lot of questions in the span of one small paragraph. They are important questions which I believe compel us to evaluate our circumstances and how we view them. We need to determine the motives which drive us in who we are, in who we are becoming, in how we view God, why we believe God acts as He does in our lives, and the importance in seeking to understand His motivation! There is a futility of thinking we are warned against; it is equated with the thinking of those who have no hope. Remember, when the word hope is used in the writings of Paul it is nearly always in reference to secure confidence.
The darkness of this world hardens the hearts of all who live here, and there is no exception to this truth. From the moment Adam and Eve entered into the rebellion, Darkness began to replace the Light. This Darkness infiltrated deep into the souls of our first mom and dad, creating the attitudes we experience today. This Darkness leads to the hardening of our hearts, causing us to be separated from the only One who gives us life! Because of this Darkness an ignorance developed in our psyche, we lose our sensitivity, compassion, and ability to empathize with the hurting of our fellow human beings. We exercise our God Complex when we determine what we believe is happening in someone else’s life rather than offering to help.
How do we lose our sensitivity to the hurting, the pain, injustice, the abuses, everything that is contrary to the very heart of Jesus? How do we “hit the mark” of what He mentored for His disciples and for us, and for all who believe the gospel message God shares through us? This is a foundational understanding Paul was addressing in his letter to the believers in Ephesus. “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” (Ephesians 4:18) It is this hardening of the heart by the darkness of the enemy, the nemesis of God, which causes humanity to be cruel in its dealings with humanity.
We all know what happens when someone enters a darkened room with a single candle, the transformation from dark to light is nothing less than remarkable. Add to that one more candle and you have increased the light twofold and decreased the darkness significantly more! Continue to add light from single candles, each time noticing the effect on the darkness that once dominated the room. What do you see? Where has the darkness gone, what has occurred in the room that was once full of darkness? Now imagine what the light God brings into the darkness of our souls accomplishes. Consider what God says when He promises to replace the hardened, dead hearts we have with “hearts of flesh”. Meditate on the wonderful reality concerning the promise given relating to the new mind He offers us. All we need do is ask, and yes it is that simple!
There is, however, a process in the Christian experience that changes our view of everything we experience. There is a need for educating us, for eradicating the lies we have been fed by the nemesis of God. This is accomplished by God’s Grace, activated in our lives as the Holy Spirit intervenes/interferes with our lives. (I use interfere to acknowledge there are times when God acts and I don’t necessary want him too!) It is the only way transformation can occur, it is the only way we have life here and beyond.
This process of re-creation includes coming to know the truth as it is found in Jesus. As once declared to Pilate by Jesus, “I am the Truth”. It is through knowing Jesus we come to know God the Father. If you want truth, there is only One who can offer us the Truth. Are we willing accept the Truth received by conviction of the Holy Spirit through the life of Jesus? We did not come to know Jesus by indulging in what is called “the old self”. It is that which must be “put off” because our old self “is being corrupted by its deceitful desires”.
Then what exactly is God offering, because, quite frankly, looking at the condition of this planet I don’t see any evidence there is a God. This is a common ideology growing rapidly on this planet. I am processing through this, trying to get a handle on restoring relevancy to the cause of the gospel among the generations following us, as well as for myself. I need it for myself as I seek to communicate God’s Grace to those who are coming after us, those who see things differently and see the things I don’t.
We are offered a new self when we desire to put off the old self. In this transformation process we receive a new attitude in our minds to replace the one being corrupted by our deceitful old self. There is no getting around it we are not the good anything! I know that sounds quite harsh. However, as a disciple of Jesus I am compelled to accept His words as Truth. And Jesus declared there was only One who was Good, and He was God! The only good in us is through His Grace process as we enter into the transformation of becoming like God. Remember, God originally created humanity to be like Himself, without the drama of the rebellion. As soon as Lucifer determined to cherish the lie he had himself created there was nothing left to him except to destroy as many of humanity as God created.
However, God has and is the ultimate answer to all issues facing humanity, through His Grace! The challenges facing disciples of God today are: 1) to be willing to put on the New Self, 2) accept God’s plans for my future whatever they may be or may not be, 3) allow the Holy Spirit to bring the gifts we need, those of godly righteousness and holiness. All of this is available for the asking, and by a natural osmosis that is clearly from God.
What we are today is clearly different from who and what we were when we didn’t know Jesus. We enter into a process of change made possible by the actions of Jesus and carried out in us by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moves in our lives like the wind moves through our atmosphere. We can’t see it but we feel it moving, we see the results of its impact. We receive a new attitude in every aspect of our lives as the Holy Spirit moves to restore in us God’s original blueprint for all His creation. In this restoration process our responsibility is to allow God’s Grace to have its way with us as it provides the power, the ability, the strength, the desire to put off the old and to receive the new. The amazing gift of God’s Grace is working in us at this very moment, and I believe it just doesn’t get any better than that for the disciples of Jesus!
“Later, Jesus talked to the people again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness but will have the light that gives life.’” John 8:12 New Century Version