And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. — Ephesians 4:23
The next time you sing the old Gospel hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” think of the composer, a gentleman by the name of Robert Robinson (1735-1790). Robinson was saved under the ministry of George Whitefield and even entered the Christian ministry. However, neglect of spiritual things led him astray and he drifted far from God. In an attempt to satisfy the void in his heart, he began to travel.
One day, while he was riding in a stagecoach, a female passenger was grieved by his levity and determined to share her faith with him. She handed him a hymnbook, pointing to the words of a particular song, and said, “These words might help you as they have helped me.” It was his hymn!
He tried to avoid conversing with her, but he could not disguise his emotion, for the Lord was speaking to him. At last he broke down and confessed, “Madam, I am the poor, unhappy man who composed that hymn many years ago. I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” The woman assured him, “But these ‘streams of mercy’ are still flowing!” Through her encouragement, Robinson reestablished his relationship with the Lord.
On that memorable day, Robert Robinson experienced the renewal alluded to in our focus verse, and from that day on, Robinson was a new man. Prior to this he was in a backslidden condition, but the old nature that was “prone to wander” had been rescued by an application of the precious Blood of Jesus.
The importance of renewal was the point that Paul was trying to make to the believers at Ephesus. In effect, he was telling them in this chapter, “You no longer belong to the old corruption of sin. You are now a new creation in Christ, so act like it!” For Paul, for Robert Robinson, and for believers of our day, conversion is a crisis experience that starts an ongoing process. That is why it is important that we spend time in daily meditation on the Word of God and in prayer — so our daily lives will align with our testimony of new life in Christ.
Review your life from the moment of your conversion until now. Do you have the joy and victory that comes with living as a new person in Christ? You should!
In this portion of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he exhorted them to live and walk in godliness and to be renewed in the spirit of their minds. Note the frequent mention of the words “therefore” and “wherefore” in the second half of Ephesians. In essence, Paul was saying, “Christ has revealed His grace and imparted new life to you. In light of that, here is what you should be doing for Christ.”
The Apostle mentioned several characteristics in Ephesians 4 concerning godly character, admonishing the believers to walk not as the Gentiles in the “vanity of their mind.” The designation Gentile, while meaning those who were non-Jewish, also carries the implication of “pagan” or “heathen.” Paul was saying that the sin-clouded intellect and emotions of these people had been blinded so they were without discernment and unable to distinguish right from wrong. His point was that the believer could not pattern himself after the unbeliever, because the believer has experienced a miracle of being raised from the dead.
The word translated conversation in verse 22 means “behavior.” The Ephesians were exhorted to put off definitely, deliberately, quickly, and permanently the behavior that was corrupt (spoiled, ruined, or defiled) because of sin, and to put on behavior that was befitting of one who had been granted new life in Christ. These two acts were inseparable.
Paul did not merely explain this principle, but he applied it to different areas of life. He named specific sins that were to be avoided: lying (verse 25), anger (verses 26,31), stealing (verse 28), corrupt speech (verses 29,31), grieving the Spirit (verse 30), bitterness and malice (verse 31). In contrast to these sins, he exhorted the Ephesians to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, and to walk in love toward each other.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The conduct of the church
B. Conduct in holiness (4:17 — 5:2)
1. Put off the old man (4:17-22)
a. His nature (4:17-18)
b. His practices (4:19)
c. The source (4:20)
d. The necessity (4:21-22)
2. Put on the new man (4:23-5:2)
a. The command to put on the new man (4:23-24)
b. The practices of the new man (4:25 — 5:2)
(1) Negatively (4:25-31)
(2) Positively (4:32 — 5:2)
The letter to the Ephesians was not just for believers in Paul’s day, but it is for us today. In order to live a victorious, holy life, we too must put off the old man of sin, and put on the new man, which is “created in righteousness and true holiness” (verse 24).