Wednesday, 21 September 2016
…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, Ephesians 4:22
As the truth is in Jesus, who is the Christ, Paul now exhorts the Ephesians (and thus us) to that which is right. He instructs “that you put off, concerning your former conduct…” This refers to all of the things that preceded their calling on Christ which he described of the “rest of the Gentiles” in verses 17-19. They once walked in such futility and now they have been called by Christ, who is Jesus the Man, to step away from “the old man.”
This “old man” is the former walk. It is that which is opposed to the new calling in Christ. Logically, if we had to be called out of that life, then it is incumbent on us to remain out of it. It would be contradictory to be called out of something if it were ok to return to it. If someone were unknowingly swimming in a poisoned lake, and if they were then called to come out of that lake in order to live, it would make no sense to again say, “I’m going for a swim in the lake today.” Unfortunately, Christians far too often decide to return to the poisoned lake, time and time again.
But Paul exhorts us to realize that this “old man” is “that which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” There can be no health in returning to that which grows corrupt. Instead, there can only be further corruption. These “deceitful lusts” are explained by verse 19 as lewdness and the working of all uncleanness and greediness.
The words “which grows corrupt” are passive, and therefore they mark “the progressive condition of corruption which characterizes ‘the old man’” (Vincent’s Word Studies). The old man is set in corruption because this is its very nature. It bears a process of degradation which can never become Christ-like. This is because it is according to (as the Greek properly reads), “lusts of deceit.” It is as if Paul personifies “deceit.” If one follows the old man, they follow Deceit. If one puts off the old man, they can then properly follow Christ.
Life application: The Bible stands as a warning sign by the great ocean of corruption – “Do not swim in these waters!” How is it then that we constantly feel the need to return and plunge into that which can only corrupt us? Let us endeavor to fix our eyes on Jesus and pursue life and health which is found in Him alone.
Lord God, You have given us a great and marvelous warning sign in the pages of the Bible. “Do not return to the old man, but be renewed in Christ.” And yet, like a ragged garment which is filled with a corrupting mold, we put on the old man and we pursue Deceit wherever he leads. Help us to not follow this path, O God. Instead, keep us from being tempted by that which can only lead to sin’s degradation. Remind us to fix our eyes on Jesus where there is health, prosperity, blessing, and life everlasting. Amen.