Sunday Sermon: ‘New Clothes and Dirty Laundry’

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Have you ever tried to wear the same pair of socks for several days? If you have, you know that by about the third day, the heel is sticking out above the shoe and looks like it has a goose egg has been in it. Or have you ever wanted to wear something and discovered that it was dirty and at the bottom of the hamper? Even as you are pulling it out, you know why it’s there – it’s dirty. To make matters worse, it’s now all wrinkly and crunched up. Yet you really want to wear it. So you give it that final test to make the decision – ‘you sniff it while no one is looking.’ If the smell is not too bad, you can iron out the wrinkles and get by with it one more time. If the smell is bad, you’ll just have to put on more deodorant to cover it up. I know you ladies think I’m gross and crazy; yet many of you guys and all you who are teens know exactly what I’m talking about.

How different that is from putting on something that is brand new. Several years ago there was man who won a lot of money on a game show. When asked what he was going to do with his money, he responded by saying that he was going to wear a new pair of socks every day. It is indeed a good feeling to sink your feet into a brand new pair of cotton socks.

Paul used a similar analogy to help explain the Christian life –

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation (lifestyle) the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Once someone becomes a believer, they are to stop wearing the dirty clothes of an old lifestyle and instead, out on the Lord Jesus Christ.

I. Putting Off the Old Man

Paul expresses the need to ‘put off the lifestyle of the old man.’

A.  What is ‘The Old Man’?

1. Sin and an Old Nature

What is Paul talking about when he refers to the ‘Old Man?’ Is he speaking disrespectfully about his father? Not at all. Paul is referring to our old sinful nature that Jesus suffered for, when He died on the cross. When he refers to our ‘former conversation’, he is talking about our past lifestyle as a non-believer.

Paul tells us that the nature of the old man is ‘corrupt according to the deceitful lusts’. The word ‘corrupt’ refers to something that has been defiled and should be destroyed. It’s clothes that ought to be thrown into the trash or burned.

Paul describes this corruption in this same passage:

Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Sin has so contaminated the human nature that it causes it to be totally unfit for any kind of relationship with holy God. It causes our mind to be blind and resistant to spiritual truth. Thus it produces an alienation from God and often leads men into the worst kinds of evil.

19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

‘Lasciviousness’ is an ancient word that describes the very bottom of the barrel. John MacArthur says that it is the dirtiest word in all the Bible. It speaks of a lifestyle that has lost all sense of moral decency and control and is therefore willing to do anything in order to gratify its sinful desires. It’s what fills our prison system with men and women who many deem to be no longer fit to live in society. That’s a blunt picture and description of the depravity of the human heart.

2. Salvation and a New Nature

In contrast, scripture also speaks of a new man and a new garment. We read from the book of Isaiah –

a. Robe of Righteousness

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…

b. Example of the Prodigal Son

A perfect example of this is found in a parable Jesus told about a son who went out wasted all of his father’s inheritance through sinful living. The word ‘prodigal’ refers to someone who is recklessly wasteful. Due to his wasteful lifestyle, the body eventually lost everything he had and one day he found himself eating with the swine.

Jesus told this story to illustrate how men, who have been created in the image of God, have wasted their Father’s blessings through their rebellious and sinful living. A person who rejects Christ is wasting all that God wants to give him. Jesus also told this story to teach us what it takes to turn around once we realize the depravity of our sin –

Luke 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose , and came to his father.

The boy was filled with shame over how he had sinned against his father. And so in a spirit of repentance he decided to return home and seek forgiveness.

20 … But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry  24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

In that parable Jesus is teaching us what it means to be saved. He’s showing us the grace of God that is willing to cover all of our filth of our sin with His own robe of righteousness. We know that the righteousness God is able to give us comes only because Christ died for our sins. Two thousand years ago Jesus died hung on a cross in order to receive in His body the punishment we deserve, and in exchange – offer back to us complete forgiveness and perfect righteousness. It’s as if Jesus clothed Himself with our filthy garments and in exchange, offers back to us His perfect robe of righteousness.

B.  Why Must Christians be Commanded to ‘Put Off the Old Man’?

Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk …

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation (lifestyle) the old man …

1. Cravings of the Sinful Nature

Why must passages like these be in the Bible? Why must we as Christians continuously be encouraged to live for Christ? Note something Paul said in vs. 22 –

“… the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts …”

‘Lust‘ refers to an intense desire for something. When it comes to sexual sins, Paul refers to it as a ‘burning lust.’ It’s a desire, a craving, a longing – often for that which is forbidden. Scripture speaks of the: lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16) Simply stated, these three areas of sin refer to an intense craving for things that will gratify:

– the desires of our body,

– the desires of our mind,

– and the desires of our heart.

Sin tempts us because it appeals to these desires and cravings. We read in James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

2. Sin and the Child of God

a. Crucified For Victory

There are some who believe that once we become a child of God, our old man or old nature is dead and gone. Indeed scripture teaches us –

Romans 6:6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7  For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Notice – “our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed” Paul telling us that at the moment we receive Christ as our Savior, our old man or sinful nature is crucified with Christ, so that we should no longer serve sin. Wow! Great! No more dealing with sin or temptation! Right? Wrong.

b. Claiming the Victory

Romans 6:11  Likewise reckon (consider) ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12  Let not sin therefore reign (rule) in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

The victory has been won, yet we must actively claim and live in that victory. The verbs in that passage are in the present tense which means that this must be a present, active, ongoing activity in our lives. As one Bible teacher said, “Every temptation is an opportunity for us to choose to serve the new man instead of the old.”

c. Living in Victory

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

It has been said that it is the clothes that make the man. Surely it is the clothes that makes the Christian. Are you clothed in the garments of the old man, or are you clothed in the garments of Christ?

In other words, as you go through the course of each day, breath to yourself:

It is not I, but Christ who lives in me
It is not I who loves the unlovely, but Christ who loves through me
It is not I who forgive the offender, but Christ who forgives through me
It is not I who serves the needy, but Christ who serves through me
It is not I who lives purely, but Christ who is pure in me
It is not I who lays down my life for Him, but Christ who laid down His life for me

II. The Way of the New Man

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation (lifestyle) the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

A. What is the New Man?

1. The New Man Which was Created With the New Birth

The Bible says – “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17)

There are two words translated in the New Testament as ‘new’:

a. New in reference to time

b. New in reference to type

The word Paul uses here refers to new in reference to type.

i. God does not wash up the old and send it out as new

ii. God does away with that which is old and makes all things new

Salvation is a new birth whereby the Lord puts new life in the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul states – Eph 4:24 “… which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

I have often thought about how God created man in His own image and placed in a paradise called Eden. Yet man, in of himself, was not able to please God, not even in a sinless environment. But what man could not do for himself, God did for Him. ‘In Christ’ men are re-created in the image of God, only this time, it is not men living for God, but God living in men. “It is not I but Christ that liveth in me.” Those who have Christ living in them are created in righteousness and true holiness.

2. The New Man Which is Being Renewed Day by Day

The new man was created with the new birth; yet the new man needs to be continuously renewed in the spirit of his mind. Continuously renewed not in the sense that we need to be saved over and over again, but continuously renewed in that our hearts and minds must continuously be refreshed so that we will continuously commit ourselves to follow the Lord.

Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. One translation states it as – “a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes” Everyday our heart and mind needs to be renewed so that we will maintain a Christ-like attitude and spirit.

William Vine, the great Greek scholar tells us that the spirit of the mind is that which is ‘God-ward.’ It is that deep inner part of the believer that is able to know and communicate with God. It is that which is made-alive through salvation. It involves the intellect, the emotions and most importantly the will. Note – that part of a believer must be continuously renewed if he or she wants to continuously live the victorious Christian life. The longer we are a believer, the more our minds should be made new. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16 “…though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Though our bodies are growing old and wasting away, our inner man is continuously being renewed and refreshed by the power of God.

B. We Must We ‘Put On’ the New Man

Putting on the new man is putting on Christ. Positionally speaking, we put on the new man the day we accepted Christ as our Savior. Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Yet practically speaking, we put on the new man as we yield to Christ. Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation (lifestyle) the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

The tense of the verbs ‘put off’ and ‘put on’ indicate action which we must perform upon ourselves. In other words, we must make a choice of our will. The way Paul originally wrote this indicates that we must settle down and do this once and for all. In other words, don’t be jumping back and forth from the old to the new and from the new to the old. Make a decision and carry out that decision.

How? In closing, let me suggest three simple, yet life-changing steps:

1. Confession of all known sin

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

To confess sin means to say the same thing about it that God does. It means to look at our sin through the eyes of God and abhor it, even as He does.

2. Constant exposure to spiritual truth

1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

3. A willingness to submit and obey

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way  and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.


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