… you are to put off concerning the former behavior the old man that is corrupt according to the desires of the deceit, and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man, which, according to God, was created in righteousness and kindness of the truth.Ephesians 4:22-24
The way Paul conveys this instruction to the Ephesian believers is fascinating to me. He is conveying this idea that striving for holiness or being set apart is as simple as them taking off their old desires and putting on their new practices as if they were to imagine changing out an old worn-out coat for a new and durable one.
This new way of life is set apart from its opposite: the way of the world.
So I tell you and encourage you in the Lord’s name not to live any longer like other people in the world. Their minds are set on worthless things. They can’t understand because they are in the dark. They are excluded from the life that God approves of because of their ignorance and stubbornness.Ephesians 4:17-18
This set-apartness was to come from being united with Messiah. Paul expresses this principle all throughout the book of Romans (and elsewhere). For believers to unite with Messiah was, in essence, to die to oneself and be united to him in new life, alternatively being described as clothing oneself with him.
Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.
Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 13:14 Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
Since the new man is representative of actions that represent the Messiah, then the old man being taken off, the one corrupted with its own desires, is likewise represented symbolically by Adam.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. …
What is sown is perishable; it is raised imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam a life-giving spirit.1 Corinthians 15:22; 42-49
The spiritual, however, was not first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so also are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so also shall we bear the likeness of the heavenly man.
To bear the likeness of the heavenly man was to put off the sinful desires, ignorance and stubbornness of the darkness of this world, and instead put on the righteous thinking and deeds of the Messiah by remaining obedient to him as Lord. Believers were to consider themselves as having been resurrected to new life in Messiah.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires. Do not present the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and present the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.Romans 6:12-13
This is the walk of holiness that is set before every believer today, as well: to present ourselves to God with each new day as those who have been resurrected from our old, sinful ways into a new life of righteousness.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!2 Corinthians 5:17
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