“Put off your old nature, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and by the renewing of your minds, put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
This is the pivotal passage in Ephesians, and in many ways the pivotal passage of the whole Bible. With great clarity, Paul tells us to actively put off the old sin nature and put on the new nature we have in Christ. Note that the primary mechanism that God has given us to accomplish this critical process of transformation is “the renewing of your mind.”
Scripture tells us (and experience confirms) that as followers of Christ we have two opposing natures within us. Those two natures are at war within us, and each produces very different attitudes and behaviors in our life.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5.16-17)
Our new nature is created in God’s image and characterized by “true righteousness and holiness.” I think we sometimes over-spiritualize the word “righteousness” and make it some kind of mystical, religious thing. “Righteousness” is actually quite straightforward and very practical. It means living and working by the standards established by God.
The Lord has given us three dimensions of right standards: moral, relational, and functional. I have written about this several times in previous devotionals, and it is relevant again here.
- Moral. This is living by the right moral standards as established by God. It is the character dimension. It is knowing right from wrong, and doing what is morally right.
- Relational. This is living by the right relational standards as established by God. It is the connection dimension. Simply put, it is loving God and loving others, and doing so according to God’s standards of love.
- Functional. This is living by the right functional standards as established by God. It is the competence dimension. It is thinking wisely, working productively, and building things that operate effectively and display beauty.
The three dimensions are the heartbeat of what it means to be created by God and to bear his image. However, all three dimensions were damaged at the Fall. The good news is that the three dimensions have been redeemed through Christ.
More tomorrow …