"Off With the Old!"
What do you "look like" as a Christian? Paul paints a picture of an unbeliever - our old self - and tells us to put on a new self, which looks like God.
Off With The Old!
A. John 11 tells about Jesus being called by Mary and Martha because their brother, and Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, was very sick. Even though Jesus was the great physician and could heal Lazarus, the Bible says that Jesus waited until he died before going to Bethany.
B. When he reached the town of his friends, both sisters approached Jesus with the comment, “If only you had been here our brother would not have died.” But there was more to this death than either sister knew. When Jesus looked at this grieving family and friends, the Bible says that Jesus was “deeply moved in the spirit and troubled.” He asked the women, “Where have you laid him?”
C. They took Jesus to the tomb and there Jesus wept. The Bible says, “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb with a stone laid across the entrance.” Then Jesus asked the most unusual request, “Take away the stone.” Martha tried to reason with Jesus that after four days of being in the tomb the body of their brother would have a terrible odor. But Jesus had other plans.
D. They took away the stone and Jesus prayed. Then, with a loud voice, Jesus said, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, but his hands and feet were wrapped in strips of linen. Then Jesus said, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:44)
E. The reason is that Lazarus no longer needed to be bound by grave clothes because he no longer belonged to the dominion of death. This is exactly Paul’s argument as we study Eph. 4.
F. The bible was written to be obeyed, and not simply studied. Paul has been saying, “Here is what Christ has done for you. Now here is what we ought to do for Christ.” We are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22). The fact is we have been called by Christ to live a life worthy of that calling. We are alive in Christ, not dead in our sins. So as we read in our text “put off your old self” (vs 22) and “put on the new self” (vs 24). Take off the grave clothes and put on the grace clothes.
G. Some may ask, “What do you mean by grave clothes?” As it was literal with Lazarus, with us “grave clothes” are those things that bind us. So how do we get out of the grave clothes and into our new clothes that are filled with the grace of Jesus?
I. The Grave Clothes
A. The first thing we have to do is think differently. Let’s walk through the text. Look again at vs 17. Paul says, “Listen up because what I am sharing with you is not optional. You want to call yourself a Christian, then understand the change.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, “We have not merely been saved that we might escape hell; we have been saved in order that God may present a people which will astonish the whole world.”
B. Paul’s statement is that “you must no longer live as the Gentiles do.” There is a sad implication, and it is that they had been living that way. So how does the Gentile live? It starts with futile thinking.
C. Non-Christians think without any substantial purpose. Since he does not know God he cannot truly understand God. For that matter he doesn’t really understand himself, for without knowing the creator, it is hard to know yourself as the created.
D. The reason the unbeliever’s thinking is so futile is because they live in darkness. Take a look at verse 18. This idea of “darkened in their understanding” is because he rejects the Bible and lives in ignorance. He believes he is enlightened by the philosophy of his day and age. Read Rom. 1:21-23.
E. Then in Rom. 1:24, 26, 28 you get the phrase, “God gave them over.” If you want to think that your human wisdom is the best, God will let you do that. He will not stop you. But as you sink further and further into sin understand God will simply turn you over to that which your heart desires. It is not because He hates you, but because He wants you to love him from your heart, with freedom of choice.
F. The Christian cannot pattern himself after the unsaved person, because the Christian has experienced the miracle of being raised from the dead. In every way, the believer is different from the unbeliever, and therefore comes admonition, “live no longer as the Gentiles.”
II. The Grace Clothes
A. Now look at our text and see the change that takes place. Next Sunday I want to walk through this slowly because we all sin and Paul teaches us about certain sins, their causes, and the their outcomes. But first, Paul gives this simple overview of before/after.
B. Read verses 20-21. The phrase “know Christ” occurs no where else in scripture. We are not talking about the knowing the doctrine of Christ, but knowing Christ himself. You came to know Jesus. You came to have a relationship with the creator of the world. You came to learn what it means to “live Jesus.” This fellowship and communion with Christ is so great it changes who you are.
C. Remember Paul said the unsaved man is spiritually ignorant and separated from the life of God. The saved man is just the opposite. The saved person was taught truth in Jesus. We often fail to see the need for a deeper understanding of the Bible. Too often we find ourselves not desiring to be challenged in classes, sermons, or personal reading, because we don’t want to really know Jesus that intimately. When you come to know Jesus at this level you will change. You can’t live the way you have been living and have the depth of relationship with Jesus that Paul is teaching.
D. When I have come to know Jesus everything about me changes. I am living a new life. My old self was destroyed by sinful desires and I want those grave clothes off. My new self begins with a new attitude and mind. Paul told the Romans that they were to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. We are a new creation. We are spiritually raised from the dead.
A. Warren Wiersbe said, “Conversion is a crisis that leads to a process.” As we understand the truth of God presented to us through the Bible, we begin to change. It is a daily change and the end result is that our “new self” is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
B. It is the idea of change that many refuse. People don’t like having to face themselves and admit the need for change. Yet we will see specific sins and specific teachings about what we are to do that that require us to change.
C. I ask you today, have you taken off your grave clothes of sin and put on the grace clothes of Jesus? Have you been changed? Have you stopped living like the world and started living like the Jesus you know and love? If we can be of help in your Christian walk, please come as we stand and sing.