Ephesians 4:17–24: Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk 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 sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 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.
In this portion of Scripture the apostle Paul is contrasting two people, two natures, and two ways of living life. He first describes the Gentile (pagan, unbeliever, old self) as a person affected by the Fall of Adam. These effects of are sobering! This condition is called by theologians as the depravity of humanity. I want to call attention only to the emphasis that Paul places on the how the mind is affected by sin and the fall:
- A Fallen person walks (lives life) in the futility of the mind
- A Fallen person walks darkened in their understanding
- A Fallen person is ignorant
The apostle’s point is to remind us that when it comes to the truths of God, the purpose of life, a life lived pleasing to God, the need for a Savior, and the reality of absolute truth; we simply do not have the capacity to grasp or reason out Biblical things within ourselves. Even more than this there are built in antipathy and hostility to the reign and rule of God over our lives. In our minds we suppress the Truth of God in unrighteousness as Romans 1:18-21 describes. This is called by theologians as the ‘noetic effects of sin’. Noetic is derived from the Greek nous, or mind. We were born with this nature and we desperately need a second birth, spiritually speaking, to understand in our minds: the gospel, the truth of who Jesus is and the necessity of His death and resurrection. Thus Jesus said in John 3:3, Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” As R.C. Sproul teaches ‘a necessary precondition’ must occur before we can see or enter the Kingdom. This is of course the regeneration of the Holy Spirit or being ‘born again or born from above’ as it is more commonly called. This occurs solely by the grace and mercy of God as gift by means of the Holy Spirit of God. The fruit of regeneration is the gift of repentance and faith in Christ alone for the forgiveness of all sin by which a sinner now becomes a Christian.
This act of mercy and grace by God affects our minds. We now by the work of the Holy Spirit have the capacity to understand the things of God. Our disposition toward God changes from enemy to friend. Paul describes the effects of this in our passage above as ‘being renewed in the spirit of our minds’. We now have a ‘new self’ created in righteousness and holiness and we have the ability to understand the ‘Truth of Jesus’ and be taught by Him! With this gift comes the responsibility to now fill our mind with The Truth of God’s Word so we will continue in the transformation process that began by the Holy Spirit. We need to fill our minds with the truths of who God is, His purposes for us, His gracious promises, and how He calls us to live as His people. The overall goal is that our lives will glorify God rather than glorify ourselves. The old self was all about self glorification and self gratification but the new self is about God glorification and the joy that comes from knowing God and following Him. Though we are regenerate by the Holy Spirit there still remains within us a sin nature. It is not fully eradicated or removed. Therefore even believers in Jesus still battle with the Lordship of Christ over their lives and at times are indifferent to the Truth of God’s Word. This is why we often have conflict within our hearts and minds and resist the work of God within us.
We all will hopefully find some ‘down time’ this summer for vacation, rest and hopefully summer reading. Our vacation spot might be at the beach, at the lake, in a cottage or a camp, or simply just being at home. Let us not forget the value of extended alone time with our God, reading and reflecting in His Word and allowing His Truth to transform our minds. We must be intentional about the transformation process in our minds. We must fill our minds with the Truth of God’s Word. This is the primary way He reveals Himself to us.
Romans 12:1–2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I love you, Pastor Rick