Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior should also begin to learn a new way of life. One of peace in the storm, fruit in the drought, and confidence in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross over their own actions of righteousness.
Ephesians 4:20-24, 20, But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior have begun to learn a new way of life. Even those who have been born again and Spirit filled are still learning and growing in their knowledge and understanding of who Jesus is and who they are in Him. This is a process that comes in small steps which is another example of the grace of God. We may think our growth and change is too slow, but our natural thinking just takes time to change, however, in the spirit realm the change is immediate. People cannot handle immediate change in the natural, regardless which direction the person changes. Look at the lives of lottery winners. Very few actually enjoy what they have or even have anything left after a short period of time. A poor man has no idea how to handle and invest great sums of money and the natural mind is geared toward immediate satisfaction. Even people who earn their wealth, but do so quickly find themselves in an emotional turmoil. Look at the people in the movie industry, very few have peace in their heart even though they can and do buy whatever their eye sees. The same crash happens when a person loses their status in life from some kind of tragedy, most do not return from the pit. In Isaiah 28:9-13 the word tells us that our learning is slow and designed that way. In the days of Isaiah the children of Israel did not retain what they learned nor use it to draw closer to God. This is a prime example of the natural mind being enmity to God and unable to grasp spiritual things. Without the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins where God could change our stony hearts for one of flesh, (Ezekiel 36:26), we would not make the slow change either. Proof again that working toward salvation with rules and laws, or resting on good works to be better than the bad is futile. Through Jesus we find the only way to change, and those who accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit have the ultimate teacher to help with that change.
We have to be the one who changes our conduct as the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and will never force Himself or God’s ways on us. He will strengthen, guide and help us through those changes, John 14:26, but we have to put to action what we are taught and learn from our own study of God’s word. This statement of walking out our changes and resisting the actions of our old person is best described in Romans chapter six, the whole chapter. Our grace is real and salvation sure, therefore we are no longer under condemnation of death due to sin which is all the more reason to walk worthy of such a precious gift. Those who live as though they were not born again and have salvation do not fully understand the precious gift they have. When Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding the leaven of the Pharisees, He was referring to a little legalism leavens the gospel. If you apply this same statement to your personal life of living in sin, you can clearly see that even a little allowed sin will leaven your walk with Christ. We need to grasp this, “it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance”. (Romans 2:4)
Verse 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness”. Changing ourselves is not a onetime thing like our confession of salvation. Jesus died once for all of our sins past, present, and future, but our change must be practiced daily. Remember that it is our natural thinking that keeps us in a sin nature of actions. This is why we must allow the word of God to wash us from the inside out, not focus on the outside first. No one walking into a convenience store all of a sudden finds themselves robbing the store, the person meditated on it first. A man or woman will not wake up one morning and just go get in bed with someone else. They first had the thought, then meditated on the thought, then took the action when the thought reached the point of controlling the person. Our minds are like a computer that does not function well and has a continual window popping up at the wrong time. If you click off the window you can get back to what you need to be doing, if you study and give yourself over to the window you not only are off track from your original task, but will find yourself going places you never intended to go. This process is a lot like the steps of a person that has no control over their drinking. First the person takes a drink, then the drink will take a drink, then the drink will take the person. We must take control of our original thoughts and not continue in them. Just purposing to not practice the sin is not the answer. If all you are looking at is the sin action and how to stay away from it, the sin is still on your mind. This is the very reason the majority of people walking into an AA or NA meeting do not stay sober. Their sobriety is short lived in relationship to the rest of their lives. I know this first hand. I spent years calling myself an alcoholic that was sober for today and found myself constantly in fear of falling back into drinking. Drinking and not drinking was all I had on my mind. When I finally woke up and realized that “no matter where I went, there I was”, I realized it was me that needed the change, not my actions. Without salvation for cleansing of sin coupled, with the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us into all truth pertaining to God, we can never stay changed. Paul tells us how to do this in Philippians 4:6-9, with emphasis on verse 8 & 9. “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you”. The only thing that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, has a good report or any virtue, or anything that is praise worthy, is the word of God and what He through Jesus on the cross has done for all who believe and confess Him as their Lord and savior. We must keep our mind on the word of God and this will not be possible if we only go to church and sit and listen to the preacher. Yes going to church and listening is a good thing, but only the beginning. Study the word of God and make it your own. Verse nine can actually be put into action by seeking a strong man or woman of God and learning how they live their life on a daily fashion.
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