Ephesians 4: 22-28 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. Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
When Is a thief no longer a thief? Most would answer this one with the obvious “When he stops stealing” And from the world’s perspective, that would be true in most cases. Self help books would teach that "you need to replace you old bad habit with a new habit." But from God’s Word we see that “Change is a Step Process” and that we all need to do three things to overcome sinful habits.
1. Put off your old self
2. Be made new in the attitude of your minds
3. Put on the new self
This clearly explains why people cannot overcome on their own strength. Without God’s word to help us renew our minds with the truth, we are most likely to replace the old wih more old … just a little bit better old. How does that play out in your day to day life? In a hundred different ways, but here are a couple. A dieter might replace Coke with Diet Coke, instead of pure water. A man addicted to porn might turn to mystery novels rather than reading the Bible. Now I hear you, what’s wrong with Diet Coke or mystery novels? And I respond, nothing … but they are not the best decisions you can make. Are both persons better off? … most likely yes, but we are talking here about becoming the person Jesus Christ wants us to be: Ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21
It is amazing how often when God gives us a way in which he wants us to change, He also gives us the put-on and put-off and the scripture we need to commit to memory to renew our mind so that we can become like Christ. Let’s walk through the above verses and I’ll show you what I mean.
Put off: Falsehood. We are all guilty of having told "little white lies" or some of us might tell big lies on occasion. Or we can deceive by not saying anything. Being truthful means if we do not agree with our chosen political party’s position on an issue, we don’t say we agree with it … to be politically correct. It is lying if you encourage a friend or relative to go ahead, when you know what they are doing is wrong ... or to say good job to your child when you know they did not do their best. Giving ribbons to the losers and telling them they won is wrong also.
Put on: Speak truthfully: In two different situations, I was told about friends who had caught others cheating at golf. When I asked, Did you confront him about the cheating, my friends replied, No way, that would be the end of our friendship. Well, if a friendship isn’t based on honesty, it isn’t a friendship. Hearing the truth is what everyone should want to hear from those that love them. It might hurt you or them on the short run but, not being honest will hurt everyone much more ... in the living out of our lives. Truthfulness is a key to being a person others can trust.
Renew Mind: For we are all members of one body. This command is even more important to those of us who are in the body of Christ, and for those who are close to us and who we love.
Put off: In your anger do not sin. This verse does not say, “Don’t be angry.” In fact, it assumes you will be angry … just don’t sin in your anger. Think before you react. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor 10:5 This is the person we would become when we have the mind of Christ.
Put on: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. When we do lose our temper and self control … go now and make it right. To allow for the situation to sit will allow for bitterness, resentment and hatred to replace a disagreement. I have learned this one the hard way.
Renew Mind: Do not give the devil a foothold. On more than one occasion, I have said or done something that has allowed for the devil to get a foothold between me and those I love very much. I am convinced that in most cases, the people involved can’t even tell you what they are upset about. In my case, I have tried but my attempts go ignored. People get hurt and their pride will guide them from that point on. Only the love of Christ can restore when it gets to this point. Once more: if you are reading this, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me.
Put off: Steal no longer Although, our new age has given many new subtle ways to steal … let’s assume that for the sake of discussion … none of us are thiefs.
Put on: Must work Oh, wait a minute. Is not working and living off of others stealing? See what I mean … this one gets tricky.
So let’s simplify: 1. Don’t steal 2. Work
Renew Mind: Doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. This renewing the mind part is the most important part of this one. We need to completely change the way we think here. It is a 180 degree switch. Instead of having the mind of a thief who asks himself “what can I get today from someone else that I did not earn, so I can please myself” … we need to have a new mind that asks me “ how much can I earn today, so that I can give it away, to someone else, to help fill their need”
A thief is no longer a thief when his mind has been transformed to the point where the love of Christ is controlling his every thought.
1John 15:12-14 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
God Bless you My Friends, Bob