“Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” (Eph. 5:11)
One of most common teachings throughout the New Testament for believers is that they live as new creatures. We are expected to turn from our old ways and conform to the image of Christ, becoming children of light.
…If indeed you have heard [Christ] and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)
God’s Spirit dwells in believers and drives us toward this holiness- He works within us to make us pleasing toward Him. Yet, seeing how Paul still must encourage us to walk worthy of God’s calling, it seems that there is still room for us to grieve the Holy Spirit. We still have the ability to disobey or resist God and walk according to our former lusts. I think part of the reason we can still stumble is because we live in a wicked world and are under daily attack by the devil and our own sinful flesh. So, Paul gives us this reminder to check us, convict us, teach us, and inspire us to continue to move toward perfection (4:11-12) and demonstrate what is acceptable unto the Lord (5:10).
I see a connection, then, between putting on the new man and putting on the whole armor of God…
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
When we don’t put on the new man, we are allowing ourselves to be under attack of the enemy. It’s like being naked running through a battlefield or sleeping in the trenches. If we don’t realize that we are in a fight, we will die. The call to salvation, then, is also a call to war. Every single day we have to deal with the devil, the world, and our own flesh (which is described as deceitful!) If we do not wake up with the realization that we must walk in the light, if we do not put on the new man and woman, if we do not fill ourselves with the Spirit and sing psalms and hymns in our hearts to the Lord (5:19), if we do not pray without ceasing, if we do not put on the full armor of God and above all hold up our shield of faith every single day, our spiritual potential will be wasted, our ministries will be cut short, our lives will be unfruitful, we will remain mediocre and unhappy, we will miss out on experiencing the glory and power of God.
So we must recognize that we are warriors. We must realize that the flesh lusts against the spirit. In fulfilling the lusts of our flesh, we grieve God and diminish our ability to bear any fruit. God is not pleased when we walk in our carnal minds. He won’t even hear our prayers! We are in sin! Why is it that we wait until we feel disconnected from God to start coming to Him in earnest? Why is it that we wait until we are beat up by the devil to start fasting and seeking God? Why is it that we wait until the enemy has run up the scoreboard before we start fighting back! We need not to wait! We need to put on the new man now! We need to walk as children of God today! And every day after! We need to suit up!
(Read Ephesians 4-6. Share any thoughts below.)