Friday, February 02, 2007


Ephesians 4:23

In Ephesians 4:22 Paul tells his readers they were taught to put off the old man which is being corrupted by its deceitful schemes. He goes on to say there is a second thing they were taught. They were also taught to be made new in the spirit of their minds (4:23). The verb “to be made new” is in the passive voice. That means this is something God does to us, not something we do! We are to be made new, not make ourselves new. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a work he does in our hearts and minds. It is a process by which he is shaping us into the image of Christ. It is the renewing of our minds that keeps us from living like the world. Romans 12:2 shows us this, “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” There are pressures in this world that seek to shape us to fit into the pattern of the world. Paul says the way to avoid being conformed to the world is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As the Spirit transforms our minds he shapes them into the image of Christ’s mind. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Having the mind of Christ keeps us from living like the world and helps us to live like Christ.

If this is a work of the Holy Spirit, then why does Paul even mention it to us? If there is nothing we can do to renew our own minds, and there isn’t, then why is it included between these two commands to “put off” and “put on?” One reason would be that even though we can do nothing to renew our own minds we may still hinder the work of the Holy Spirit by insisting on having a worldly mindset. In other words, continuing in sin results in quenching the work of the Spirit.

So our part in the renewing of our minds is refraining from hindering the Spirit by being stubborn in sin. What can we do? The Holy Spirit is working on our minds so that is where we can focus our attention. What kinds of things do we put into our minds? What kinds of things do we think about? What kinds of things do we look at? It seems an obvious conclusion that the things that occupy our minds eventually produce related behavior in our lives. For example, we all know that children who are fed a steady diet of violence on television and in the movies are much more likely to behave violently. We know that men who habitually view pornography usually abuse women. What are we putting into our minds? What kind of music do we listen to? What television and movies do we watch? What do we read? Do we think about money all the time? Do we think about how angry we are at someone all the time? These things will hinder the renewing of our minds! They must be replaced with spiritual and God-honoring things. Like what? We can read the Bible and other edifying literature. We can memorize passages of Scripture, especially passages that address our sins. We can limit our viewing to benign television and movies. We can spend time meditating upon and praying through Scripture.

Another reason Paul put this statement about the renewing of our minds here is that it has an immense influence on the two things we are responsible for, the “putting off” of the old man and the “putting on” of the new man. As has already been said, that which goes on in our minds almost always works itself out in our behavior. If our minds are set on worldly and sinful things then it will be almost impossible for us to put off the ways of the old man. But if we intentionally fill our minds with spiritual and godly things then our minds will be renewed. We will know which things need to be put off and we will discover a desire to be rid of them! With renewed minds we will be able to see through the deceitfulness of the lusts of the flesh. With minds that are full of the Spirit we will be empowered to put on the new man.


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