The New Self
17Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.
18They 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.
19They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
20But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
21assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
We have discussed before the dichotomy that is the Christian life. We are both saint and sinner – at the same time. We were all born into original sin and then brought into the faith by the Holy Spirit. We all exactly what it means to sin and have experienced times when we have hardened our hearts.
As I read this passage, I am reminded of the life of King David who was described by God as “a man after God’s own heart.” And yet at the pinnacle of his career as the King of Israel, he falls into the dark pit of sin by taking another man’s wife (Bathsheba) and even having her husband purposely killed in battle. It is truly a shameful series of choices that David makes. For a time, he allows his heart to become hardened and sins willfully. It’s a tough story to read and we are disappointed with David. But we can’t point the finger at him without noticing that we ourselves are guilty of the same willful sin against God. We too go our own way at times and are in need of a Savior. God sends Nathan the prophet to David as a wake-up call. Nathan points out David’s departure from the Lord with a simple parable and David is convicted to his core. He knows that he has sinned and promptly repents, being restored to his place as a man after God.
Walking that path between saint and sinner is always a struggle. The “sinner” side is easy and so very tempting. The saint side can be difficult but is filled with blessings. Those who believe spend time (probably every day) in both camps. But Jesus has paid the price so that we are seen by God as saints. The “new self” is that blood bought saint who knows that despite the propensity to sin, God has provided a way for us to live as people who are after His heart.