Tuesday, August 9, 2016

a Christian growth primer

...to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

There is a process for Christian growth in this passage that is crucial for Christians to understand. It is how we move from being controlled by sin to demonstrating God's renewal of us in holiness. God provides all we need, but we must also actively, personally engage in the process.

First we put off the old self. The image is vivid... like changing our clothes. This assumes a proper understanding of what God through scripture and the Holy Spirit's conviction calls sin in us. It hits us at the most personal of levels... at our deepest personal wants and desires which are often, as the passage states, deceived by sin. My most personal of thoughts, my deepest wants must first be assumed to be tainted by sin.

Secondly, we must be renewed in our minds as God's Word and His Spirit begin to challenge and change our thinking. I have to be under the exposure of God's Word, saturating my thinking with God's thoughts, in order to give His Spirit something with which to work. This is the ONLY way we can be transformed in our minds and spirits first and avoid legalism or Pharisaical false righteousness. It is described for us in the command to be transformed in our minds through the Word of God in Romans 12:1-2.

Finally, we put on the new self. We must know what scripture reveals as righteousness and do it. We must let the Word of God, not our own selfish desires, dictate our lifestyle choices, and then we can know growth, maturity and the likeness of God in us in true righteousness and holiness.

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