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“Putting off the old man” May 20, 2007

Posted by Kevin in Uncategorized.
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I remember growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. It was very popular to refer to your dad as “the old man.” That is to say, popular in every house but ours. We were told very early in our teen years about that phrase and that it was analogous to man’s sinful nature. And that was definitely far from the representation or description of our father.

But what does “putting off the old man” mean to me?

Let’s first look at a passage of scripture that brings up that phrase.

Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; 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; they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. You did not so learn Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:17-32 RSV

Putting off the old man sounds almost benign in this passage, doesn’t it? You get a somewhat different picture in Romans 6:6. That passage says this:

knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:6 NKJV

Crucified — that’s not quite so benign is it? That sounds downright painful in fact. And it is painful. Or rather, it was. It was painful when Christ died for our sins. It was painful when He willingly gave His life that we might live. And that brings me back to my original thought when I started writing this.

How should we then live?

I think the best way to live is to focus not so much on what we are putting off. But rather we should focus on what we are putting on. Put on a new Spirit for your mind as noted in verse 23. And put on holiness and righteousness as noted in verse 24.

Is it easy? — Yes and No

It is easy in that we don’t have to do anything in our own strength. We have the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us and empower us to live a Holy life.

It is not easy in that we are often tempted to try to handle it on our own. We listen to the voice of the world that tells us that we need to be self-sufficient and rely on our own abilities. Self-reliance is an open invitation to letting the devil get a foothold in our lives as we are warned in verse 27.

Here are some practical words right out of our passage.

  • Speak truthfully to your neighbor
  • Be angry, but without letting that anger drive us to sin
  • Work hard and do something useful for the Kingdom
  • Share with those who are in need
  • Watch your mouth for unwholesome talk
  • Use our words to build each other up
  • Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit
  • Get rid of socially unacceptable and disruptive behaviors
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another
  • Forgive each other as Christ forgave us

I am not sure why I wrote this today. But it came to me during the worship service this morning. Perhaps I wrote it because I needed to read it.

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