“…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Ephesians 4:22
I remember the event as if it were yesterday, even though it took place more than 40 years ago. At the time, I worked as a produce clerk in the local A & P supermarket in my hometown. I was a new Christian and was learning more about the Bible and the great doctrines of the faith. It was new and exciting to me since I did not grow up in a Christian home. I was also meeting many people in the assembly where I worshipped. I was enjoying my new life in Christ and my “world” was opening up. It was a great time for me personally and more importantly, spiritually.
One day at work, I heard a heated discussion taking place. A customer was not happy either with the service or product he had received and was having a spat with the clerk. It could be easily heard a distance away. This customer was expressing his discontent quite vociferously. He was not happy to say the least. When I looked more closely at him, he resembled a person in my fellowship, but I was not quite sure. What a shock it was, however, on the following Lord’s Day to see that same person—a senior saint—standing up in prayer during one of the services! Thinking about what had happened that week, it was not what I would have expected from someone in my assembly even in my early days as a new believer in Christ.
The memory of that event has stayed with me these many years later. It is not that I have dwelt on it all this time, nor held it against that individual. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and I realize now better than in my youth, that “in many things, we all stumble” (Jas. 3:2). Years have elapsed since I first began walking with the Lord, the better part of them in so called “full-time” Christian service. Still however, I am fully aware that on many occasions we do not live up to our calling in Christ and our commitment to Him. Thankfully, we can affirm that “God is not finished with me yet.” One day, He will complete this work in us, just as He promised in His Word (Phil. 1:6). But until then, we have work to do in seeking to be Christlike in our character. We are never exonerated from the responsibility of honoring Him in all things.
Despite the marvelous prospect of one day being like Him, there is still the disconcerting truth: Could I be guilty of displaying a spiritual personality while in a different situation manifesting a “not-so-spiritual personality” at other times? More bluntly, could I end up being a crotchety Christian, a spiritual curmudgeon who knows the Scriptures well and the standards of the Word but not allowing it to sink deeply and penetrate the recesses of my heart, changing me from the inside out? In short, am I becoming the person I really don’t want to be?
When I became a believer by faith in Christ alone, I learned that I was a “new man,” created “in the image of Him who created him” (Col. 3:10). I learned that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new (2 Cor. 5:17). I learned that my sins were forgiven, and I was on my way to Heaven, with Christ as my Savior and the Spirit as my guide. I learned that I was sealed until the day of redemption and that I was forever secure in Christ (Phil. 1:6; Eph. 4:30). But in time, I also learned that I must put off the old man, “which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22) and that it would require diligence to make my “calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:5, 10).
If we (and more importantly I!) do these things, I will avoid being the person that I do not want to be. May the Lord help you and me each day, to avoid being like him, the old man, and being more like Him, our Savior and Lord.
“and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:23–24