We’ve been talking about who we are in Christ. By faith we are blessed with every spiritual blessing, chosen to be holy and blameless, adopted into His family, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, forgiven and reconciled with the Father, who has shared His wonderful mystery with us that gives us eternal hope, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, to show that we belong to Him, guaranteeing our eternal security, and we are now seated with Christ.
With all of the benefits we have received by God’s grace in Christ, there should be a noticeable difference between the life of the believer and the life of the unbeliever. All evidence of the old life must be eradicated. No more excuses. No more secret sins. A changed life is one that has been transformed from the old life, reformed into a new life, and conformed to the character of Christ. That is the “God-fashioned” life.
Paul warns us to no longer walk as Gentiles: “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” (Eph. 4:17-19)
“Impurity with greediness” paints the picture of someone who is in a constant state of self-gratification, lusting after every form of impurity, always wanting more, never satisfied. In Romans 1:24, 26, 28 we see that God will give us over “lusts of [our] hearts to impurity”, to “degrading passions”, and “depraved mind[s]”. If someone becomes focused on living a sinful life and doing impure things, God will let us do it.
What is the result of God giving us over to our passion for impurity? “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”(Rom. 1:28-32)
There is a difference between those who know they’re in a sinful state and want to get out, and those who don’t. Consider the words of John Ensor from The Great Work of the Gospel: “Sheep and swine can both end up in the mire. Yet the essential difference in their two natures is quite visible from the reaction each has to its fallen condition. While sheep do stray and stumble into the mire, they quickly loathe the situation and struggle to get free. They may be dirty, but they desire to be clean. They may be stuck, but they bleat for their shepherd to come and save them out of the muck. But swine, in keeping with their nature, wallow in the muck, content to stay there all day.”
You must know that the devil is waging war against us. If he manages to make us look, think and act like pagans, then he is negating our testimony for Christ. Let’s go back to Paul’s words, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” These verses give us the answer to living in Christ, and not giving into the devil’s schemes.
To take off the old, we have to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (v 23). How do we do this? We take every thought captive. If we begin to think about what we deserve, that our feelings are hurt, that something isn’t fair or any number of thoughts with the focus on ourselves, we have to put up a stop sign in our minds and say STOP, and give those thoughts to the Lord. “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
Taking our thoughts captive to Christ is a choice we make to be holy and blameless in the Lord’s sight. He has given us His power through the Holy Spirit to make the choice and to act on it. As you walk through your day today, ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of thoughts that you need to take captive to Christ. Pray about what the Lord wants you to “take off” so that His light shines through you, so that others will know you belong to Christ.