Summary: In this lesson we examine how and why Christians put on the new self.
In preparation for last Sunday’s morning message on Ephesians 4:25-32, that I called “Living the Christian Life,” I read several commentaries, including one by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones titled, Darkness and Light: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:17-5:17. In that commentary he has a chapter titled, “How and Why the Christian Puts on the New Man.” I found that chapter helpful to me, and decided to share the essential message of that chapter with you.
Ephesians 4:25 begins a fresh subsection about the new life in Christ. In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul talked about the non-Christian life. Then, in verses 20-24, Paul talked about the Christian life. Paul’s general principle is that we put off the old self and that we put on the new self.
But Paul doesn’t just set down the general principle. He applies the general principle to particular aspects of conduct and behavior that are characteristic of the new self. And that is what he begins to do in verse 25, and he continues to do so until the end of his letter to the Ephesians.
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:25)
The Apostle Paul’s argument, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones puts it, is that “you are no longer what you once were, indeed you have become something that is entirely different; now then, put off in every way everything that is suggestive of what you once were, put on everything that really does belong to, and is true of, this new man that you are in Christ Jesus.” This is the application of the principle that Paul gave the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
In this lesson, then, let us examine how and why Christians put on the new self.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. How Christians Put on the New Self
2. Why Christians Put on the New Self
I. How Christians Put on the New Self
First, let’s look at how Christians put on the new self.
A. Christians Put on the New Self by Applying the Truth
First, Christians put on the new self by applying the truth.
Paul wrote in verse 25a, “Therefore….” Paul had just written about what was true of the non-Christian and what was true of the Christian. Christians have put off the old self and have put on the new self. “Therefore,” he implies, the truth must now be applied.
Truth is not something that is to be regarded objectively and enjoyed intellectually; it must be applied. That is important. Dr. Lloyd-Jones writes, “I remember once an occasion when a man preaching with great eloquence, said a very striking thing. As a result certain people in the congregation spontaneously broke out in applause. They clapped their hands, and the good preacher, man of God as he was, pulled them up and said, ‘The truth is not to be applauded, it is to be applied!’”