Saturday, 13 July, 2024

The old man vs the new man

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“That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”Ephesians chapter 4 verses:22-24
*We shall consider the following:
*What constitutes the old Man.
*What constitutes the new Man.
*What is implied in putting off the one and putting on the other?

There is a necessity to fully understand this bible passage as sundry mistakes are often made on this subject.

What constitutes the old man? There are two sources from which all human activity, or in other words, all mental life flows. This means the activity, or rather the active state of the various organs. This is life; its opposite, death, is the cessation of activity, and passing out of that state, in which action is the law of our existence, into another in which absolute inaction is the law.

Applying the term life to the mind, we mean to denote its active state. There are two ultimate causes, or springs, of all this activity; one, fallen human nature; the other, the Spirit of God.
Mental activity is first developed through our connection with the physical body. The newborn infant has constitutional wants; its appetites demand gratification, and its mind is thus first aroused to exercise. Here human nature begins developmental activity. One cannot correctly imply that this first act of the infant is sinful. It could not have been unless the intelligence is so far developed as to take cognizance of right and wrong. The Bible everywhere assumes that some knowledge of obligation must be present, or sin cannot be.

Thus all of our earliest mental activity is prompted by our connection with the body; and the constitutional demands of the body lead to indulgence which, though not sinful before any knowledge of duty exists, yet becomes the main spring of human selfishness. By the time knowledge is developed, and in the very face of it, we prefer to please ourselves rather than God.

Another source of mental activity is the Spirit of God. Though the Spirit is not the necessary cause of mental action, in such a sense that the mind under the Spirit’s influence acts of necessity and is not free. The Spirit only excites the mind to action and on such occasion, such action would not take place without the Spirit. The Bible represents God as working in us to will and to do, and Christians as walking with the Spirit, or after the Spirit and not after the flesh.

Thus Spirit begets a peculiar kind of action, the very opposite of that produced by the workings of selfishness.
The old or first man is the carnal mind or principle of selfishness. It begins with caring for the flesh even before its action can have any moral character, and continues to care for the flesh ever after. Hence it is called a carnal mind, or a minding of the flesh. Its characteristic feature is that its gratification is its supreme desire.

It is called a “man” because it is the hidden source and cause of outward activity. It would seem as if the Bible language contemplated a hidden agent, working underneath the visible, exterior of each individual. This agent in one set of characters produces selfish action, and in the other, the opposite. These inward-working agents known as the old man and the new correspond to the ultimate intention of the will and control all our proximate volitions. The ultimate intention of course always governs all our voluntary conduct. We never can act without intending something, and all our lesser subordinate volitions are only the necessary result of our ultimate purpose. The ultimate purpose of our motives is either to please ourselves or to please God.

The “man” in the sense of our text is the reigning disposition. It is that which the mind is disposed of, or rather which the mind voluntarily disposes and sets itself to do. The mind deliberately chooses its purpose of existence. The mind chooses the kind of good it will seek, and then of course sets itself, to secure this kind of good by every means in its power. Hence there is a disposition of the mind that is shaping its efforts, and all its mental activity to secure the good of its purpose.

The ultimate and efficient intention of the mind in the form of the old man is to commit itself in a deep and hearty commitment of the soul to self-gratification. It controls all the activity of all unregenerate men. You do not see the old man with the external eye, but by its ceaseless development, we learn its character and omnipresent agency.

The new man however is a spiritual mind, or a disposition to please God instead of self. It is right over against the carnal selfish state. The mind is fully committed to pleasing God so this becomes the chief purpose for which the individual reacts and acts. The new man is thoroughly committed to doing the will of God, just as the old man is to do the bidding of his carnal impulses. The former lives for God; the latter for himself. All voluntary agents will seek to please either God or themselves. All action, therefore, results from one or the other of these ultimate intentions. And this is true not only of all men but of all other intelligent beings of angels and devils.

These two dispositions divide all mankind into two classes. Hence there are, as we often say, two sorts of men; and so the Bible says. The Bible represents all men as either saints or sinners; holy or unholy; spiritual or carnal; children of God or children of the devil. It makes them either old men or new men; born of the flesh, or born of the Spirit. The old state is first in order, and all pass into the channel of self-gratification, which leads directly to it.

With the exemption of those who may be enlightened, and converted by the Spirit from the womb, all others begin a course of self-gratification from their birth, which becomes sinful, as soon as they know that God forbids it. Sin is thus the desire to make self-gratification, the supreme purpose and reason of existence, in disobedience to God. This old man is corrupt, according to and in compliance with deceitful lusts such as all forms of sensual desire. It includes the entire circle of physical propensities. All these the old man commits himself to obey. He lives for their gratification. They are called deceitful for the obvious reason that the pleasure they promise in their gratification is always delusive. They flatter only to destroy.

Whereas the new man is born of the Spirit, born from above; the Spirit of God continually begets his moral activity, leading him thoroughly to renounce himself and commit his whole being to do the pleasure of God. This new man is sometimes spoken of as being the Lord from heaven, or Christ formed in the soul. So it is, not in the sense of physical creation, but in this sense; Christ by His Spirit begets, produces, a state of mind in which we voluntarily commit our whole being to God. Then we become like Christ, and it is therefore as if Christ Himself were formed within us, His very Spirit and temper now reigning in our hearts, so that it seems as if Christ Himself were there, and indeed He is thereby His spiritual and most efficient presence.

So, What are we to understand by the exhortation to put off the one and put on the other?

This putting off the old man and putting on the new is precisely what the Bible means by regeneration. This is the change of heart of which the Bible speaks. It also implied Perseverance. Wherein we are to continue in this state. Paul is writing to Christians and urging them to put off the old man with his deeds and put on the new man could have only meant that they should continue to do what they began to do at their conversion, and maintain in constant vigor that activity which then commenced.

When the old man is put off, he dies. This does not mean the annihilation of the appetites and the physical constitution: no, the former body still exists, and you must eat and drink, for its support, no less than before. It only means that all these appetites and propensities are held under the control of God’s revealed will, and to be indulged only following that will. They are no longer our masters; we have no master but God.

Those who misunderstood the intent of this scripture have misinterpreted it to be the doctrine of physical depravity and the original sin. Hence reading the scripture like “Put away your constitutional appetites, annihilate the flesh; crucify its constitutional propensities.” But the Apostle means only this: Let them not control your moral activity. Hold them evermore subordinate to the will of God.

It should be observed that these physical appetites are not necessarily the source of our activity. We may act from love and obedience to God, but these appetites will still exist within us; for we tend to indulge them only because we rightly conclude that this will please God, and only so far as this seems to be the case.

Putting off the old, and putting on the new man, implies entire consecration to God. It is equivalent to putting away all selfishness, and acting only and alone from real benevolence; renouncing the dominion of the flesh, and submitting to the dominion of the Spirit. This, of course, is the entire consecration to God. There is no middle or third state. He who puts off the old man must put on the new man; for the mind will have some spring of action, some ultimate end to gain, some prime source of its activity. It must therefore turn from one of these to the other.

error: The love of the father is awesome!
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