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Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 4: 17-24 (NIV)
17 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. 18 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. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
The Apostle Paul has used the analogy of a garment here (and elsewhere: Galatians 3: 27; Romans 13: 14; Colossians 3: 9-10), urging his readers to realise the implications of hearing about Christ and being taught in him. He urged them to put off the old self as if it were an old garment. This is not merely a matter of placing the old self nearby in readiness for its re-use. The old self is now worthless. Beyond repair, it must be discarded.
Just getting rid of the old self is not sufficient. The new self is to be put on. Jesus showed why using a different metaphor: that of a house (Matthew 12: 43-45).
When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.
Putting on the new self is essential so that there is no longer any inclination to revert to that which has been discarded as worthless. That old self must be left behind forever; there must be no opportunity for the evil one to undermine a child of God who has been made new in the attitude of her or his mind.
The new self, gifted to the believer by God through his grace, has this wonderful characteristic: it is “created to be like God” (verse 24). This realises God’s original plan for humankind, established before humans invited sin into their lives. God made humans in his own image, in his likeness (Genesis 1: 26).
The new self is created in true righteousness – that is, to fulfil its duties in love to fellow human beings – and in true holiness – that is, faithfully to fulfil its obligations to God.
Being “made new in the attitude of (our) minds” (verse 23) is not yet complete; it continues today and every day. For this is the will of God, “that you (we) should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4: 3). We ask the Holy Spirit daily to be our encourager and our guide.