Summary: As Christians, our daily walk should be categorically different than that of non-Christians. Our walk should reflect the fact that we are newly created in Christ.
1. A brand-new man thinks right (17-18)
2. A brand-new man feels right (19)
3. A brand-new man acts right (20-22)
4. A brand-new man is right (23-24)
I remember back several years ago when we lived in Mississippi, I had an old, beat up Toyota pickup. I bought it while we were overseas and beat it to pieces 4-wheeling in the fields. Then we shipped it to Mississippi when we moved there. It was ragged and had no power. I took it up to Washington DC while I was doing a temporary job up there and drove from there to here on the weekends. I think I could have walked faster going up to Flat Top. After I got finished with that job and went back to Mississippi, I decided it was time for a new truck. We couldn’t afford anything new, but I got one that was new to me. It was a fire-engine red 1989 F-250 Extended Cab Ford. It didn’t have one single option on it, but I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I waxed that thing every week. I think I went through more Armor All than gas—and that thing used a lot of gas. I treated that truck completely differently than I did that old Toyota. Because, even though it wasn’t brand-new, it was to me. It was a completely new truck to me. It had a new look. It had a new performance. It even had a new smell. That’s the way it is supposed to be with our Christian walk. In our passage this morning, Paul reminds his readers that they are no longer supposed to walk like they did before they were saved. Instead, they are to walk like Jesus taught them. When Jesus saves us, He makes us brand-new. And the way we live should reflect the fact that we are brand-new creatures in Him. This morning, I want each of us to leave this place determined to walk like the brand-new people Jesus has created us to be. In order to do that, we’re going to look at four characteristics of being a brand-new man. The first characteristic is that a brand-new man thinks right.
A brand-new man thinks right. Sometimes the best way to point out the right way is to give examples of the wrong way. That is a very effective educational tool. Sometimes the best example is a non-example. That is what Paul does in these verses. He is teaching the Ephesian Christians how they should live by reminding them of how they lived when they were lost. When he speaks here about the way the Gentiles walk, he’s not talking about the difference between Gentiles and Jews. It’s not a national heritage difference. It’s a spiritual difference. He’s using Gentiles as a name to describe the way they were before Jesus saved them. And the first thing he points out is the problem with the way lost people think. He says they walk in the vanity of their mind. Vanity speaks of futility, emptiness. In other words, apart from Christ, all of our thinking is empty and futile. Isn’t that what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes? Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. The word that he used there carries the picture of a vapor. A vapor that really amounts to nothing and quickly disappears. It has no substance. Solomon was basically a philosopher—a lover of wisdom. But as he multiplied foreign wives to himself, he began to take on their pagan religions. He got away from God’s wisdom and began to seek the world’s wisdom. He walked in the vanity of his own mind. God had given him a tremendous capacity for knowledge and wisdom. So much so that he was known as the wisest man who ever lived. But he allowed that wisdom to turn to vanity. That’s what the whole book of Ecclesiastes is about. As Solomon looks back on his life, he realizes that all of his worldly wisdom was empty and futile. But in the end, he got it right. He ends the book as a brand-new man who is thinking right. In Ecclesiastes 12:13, Solomon wrote, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.” Solomon finally got it right. He was finally thinking like a brand-new man. So, how does a brand-new man think? Paul says that the old man’s understanding was darkened because he was alienated from God. He says that he was ignorant because his heart was blind to the truth of God and His Word. It all goes back to Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Wisdom only comes from a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Education is extremely important. But if you have all the education in the world and it’s not based on the foundation of the Word of God, it’s vanity. You can have more degrees than a thermometer and if you don’t know Jesus, you’re just like Solomon—chasing a vapor that amounts to nothing. If you don’t believe me, look at the world today. We have more educational opportunities and more people are educated today than have ever been since the beginning of time. You can access more information sitting at home surfing the internet than has ever been available throughout history—combined. But yet, in many ways, we’re farther away from God than we’ve ever been. We’re just smart enough to come up with completely ridiculous ideas like evolution. Nobody+nothing=everything. We’re just smart enough to think that Martians planted DNA on Earth that started evolution. We’re just smart enough to think that there are millions of time-space dimensions that all happened and developed just by chance. And it just so happens that we developed on the one that is perfectly suited to sustain life. We’re just smart enough to think that the Bible is just a collection of myth stories designed to teach us morality. Kind of like Mother Goose or Aesop’s Fables. What futility. What darkened understanding. What ignorance. But a brand-new man bases his wisdom from a foundation of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Is he educated? Yes. Does he study to learn more about God’s world? Yes. But that’s just it—his mind is not futile, because he realizes it’s God’s world. And his understanding is not darkened because he knows that everything is built on the foundation of God’s Word. That’s not walking like the world does. That’s thinking like a brand-new man. The brand-new man Jesus has saved us to be. But a brand-new man not only thinks right, he feels right.