Daily Scripture ReadingEphesians 2

Verse of the Day – Ephesians 4:22
that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,

Devotional Thoughts
As we hear and are taught the truth as it is in Jesus, we learn that there are things about us that cannot remain the same if we are to have fellowship with God. He is absolute in His holiness and we are absolute in our fallen sinfulness. How can the two meet? Where does the reconciliation come from?

We are reconciled in Christ! He has come to be the Mediator between God and men and He has given to us the task of working as His ambassadors, preaching the gospel of reconciliation.

As we are called to new life and convicted of our sin, and as the Holy Spirit convinces us of our need for a Savior, we are by God’s grace given freely repentance and faith. Lest someone challenge this assertion let us examine the Scriptures, for the Bible is clear – everything about our salvation is a gift of God’s grace. By His grace He gives us eternal life, forgiveness, reconciliation, and fellowship with Him and His Body. And everything required for our salvation He freely provides.

Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, fulfilling the requirements of the Law on our behalf. He was submissive to the Father and obedient even to the point of death on the cross, giving His life for us as a substitute. He bore God’s wrath toward our sin upon Himself. And in His resurrection we have been given power and freedom over sin and death.

The gospel message that we are commanded and invited to obey is a message about what we must do in order to be saved. The question is asked a number of times in Scripture, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer is that because of the completed work of Christ in His righteous life and substitutionary death is that in order to partake of this life and the forgiveness of sins we must only repent and believe.

But as we have studied the fallen and futile mind of the lost man in the previous verses from Ephesians 4, we must ask how it is possible that we can repent and believe. For left to ourselves and on our own we will never by nature desire much less pursue a relationship with God. So where does this repentance and faith necessary for salvation come from?

To reiterate – all of salvation is by grace from start to finish. Not of our works. You see, repentance and faith are not works that we do in order to be saved. For even repentance and faith are gifts of grace. Repentance is identified as a gift from the Father in Acts 5:31; 11:18; Romans 2:4; and 2 Timothy 2:25. And we know faith is a gift of grace as well as a fruit of the Spirit according to Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:17; Acts 16:14; Philippians 1:29; and John 3:27.

So then what happens to us when we hear the call of Christ to salvation and answer in repentance and faith? What does Jesus teach us as we learn the truth in Him? That is what we begin to learn from verses 22-24. And today we see that the first thing that happens when we repent of our sin and trust in Christ is that we put off the old man. We no longer walk like the rest of the Gentiles walk. Our conduct, our outlook, our way of life is new and different.

Our “former conduct” speaks of the way we lived before Christ. This life is best summed up in Galatians 5:19-21. There we read about the works of the flesh. They include:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

I want us to notice today that these are habitual sins. This is not just a one time act of disobedience to the Word of God. These works of the flesh are a way of life, our life before Christ. That is why we must put off these things.

Some might say that they came to Christ at a young age, or from a moral lifestyle, and so were not engaged in this list of heinous activity. And yet the simplest reading of Scripture proves that before Christ this is how we all walked. Jesus makes it clear – while the Bible tells us not to commit adultery, He warns about the motives of lust. While we know we should not commit murder He makes it plain that an attitude of anger without a cause is worthy of the same judgment as murder. So while we may not have a list this long and detailed to point to in our life before Christ the truth is that the motives, desires, and thoughts that lead to these sins were present. And we must, in coming to Christ, put these things off.

The term “put off” is a term used to denote changing out of dirty clothes. It is as if we have come home from work and must take off our dirty, soiled, stained, and ripped work clothes. This is repentance. In Christ we have indeed come home and we know that we cannot work for salvation so we change out of that old way of life.

Paul stated it the same way in Colossians 3 where he wrote:

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

The old man has been put off if we are in Christ. Now let me ask then – how many of us would come home, take off our dirty clothes, take a shower and get all cleaned up and ready for dinner, and then go back and pick up those same dirty old clothes and put them back on? And yet how often is that what we try to do? We try to walk in the works of the flesh. We try to put these things back on and walk in them. We try, for whatever reason, to go back to our sin and embrace it as if we can have Christ and our sin both at the same time.

Yet to have trusted Christ is to have put off these things. So we must fight the temptation to fall back – to backslide – into this old way of thinking and living. To engage in this type of living is to deny Christ. It is to walk as if we did not know Him. It is to take for granted the grace of God and the power He gives us through the Spirit to walk in the light as He is in the light.

In fact, the term here for “old man” means literally that useless man. Before Christ this old man, this old way of life, is useless. Remember? The Gentiles walk in the futility of their minds. There is no salvation, no rescue, no goodness, and no hope without Christ. The old man is perishing. Growing only more and more corrupt in deceitful lusts – that is consumed with the unfilled desires of the flesh. The old man chases after things which promise satisfaction but never do actually satisfy.

That is why we are truly only satisfied when we hunger and thirst after righteousness. When we crave being right with God. Thankfully He has given us everything we need by His grace to be right with Him. He has made it possible for us to put off this old man, this our former conduct before we heard and learned the truth as it is in Jesus.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

The Necessity of the Atonement by Jonathan Edwards
The Sin-Bearer by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study
Psalm 32
Psalm 51

Recommended Songs for Worship
In Thee, O Lord, I Put My Trust
The Advent of Our God