God wants us to understand that living for Him is not just a single decision, but an ongoing walk. Sometimes I think that the modern church has lost sight of the spiritual life that the early church walked in. It’s a principle that many believers in former generations understood. We need to relearn some of the truths that we’ve let slip over time.
I like looking at church history. I read how those in the past lived for Christ. Sometimes the walk of these early Christians, and even my grandparents, amazes me. I see a walk of righteousness that we only dream about. It causes me to ask, why do we struggle with things that they overcame on a daily basis?
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve lost something over time. In the above verse Paul said, “You were taught…” What was it that they were taught? I believe it was how to walk according to the Spirit.
It’s not something you just grow into. You don’t just wake up one day mature in the Lord. These are things that we need to be taught. More than that, we must accept, apply and perform them.
We sometimes get in trouble theologically because we rip things out of context. We apply things to our lives that are not for us or that we haven’t attained to yet. We need to know who this verse was written to.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus…
Scripture wasn’t written in a vacuum. There were things surrounding what was written. The letter to the Ephesian church was sent to a group of mature, faithful believers who were walking in the truths Paul was writing about. They understood these things – and I’m convinced that many of us in the modern church don’t.
Here’s what happens. We read the words in chapter 4, above, and we think that it’s true about us. We think that Paul is writing these words to us. No, on the contrary, he’s writing to a people who are living it; as an example to us.
If the things Paul wrote in that verse were true of us, then we would be experiencing it in our daily walk. Why then are we still corrupted by our deceitful desires? Why do so many in the church still have the same attitudes as the world? Why, in the church today, do we still not live like Jesus, with the same love and works that He operated in?
I believe it’s because we’ve lost some of the truth that these other generations possessed. There are three things in the above verses that need to be done. Paul said that they put off their old man, renewed their minds and put on the new man.
I’m convinced that these milestones are worked on after our initial salvation. Paul makes it clear that these were things that they were taught. Teaching requires time, and I don’t think it was time spent being taught before they received Christ.
This has been on my heart for a while now. I’m burdened not only for myself but for the church as a whole to experience this renewal. Because of that, I may be posting about this subject for longer than I normally take for a series. But I really think that it’s needed and relevant to the church today.
Question: What would the church look like if we were “like God in true righteousness and holiness”?
© Nick Zaccardi 2015