With a set of contrasts, Paul set up what it means to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self,” describing for us what the renewed mind and new self looks like. He was not giving us a hard list of stops and starts; rather these actions come from the renewing of the mind. Let’s take our minds out of the world and into the Word, and witness God’s work in and through us.
We live in a world full of deception where it is easy to not tell the truth. But truthfulness is part of the new self that is created in the likeness of God. Rather than lying and deceiving we are to speak the truth, and truth-speaking requires a renewal of the mind. We must engage and learn to speak truthfully to each other. In love (4:15).
God created emotion within us, and a believer does not “lose” their emotions when they come to Christ. But our emotions can be purified. Paul tells us we can control our actions from these feelings, and he gave us great motivation to deal with our anger and set it aside. It’s so simple. And yet so complicated without Jesus. Festering anger leads to bitterness, outbursts, slander, or malice. Anger is dangerous and becomes the foothold of other sins, but giving it to Jesus is freedom.
Here is a great picture of the total reversal that occurs when a person learns about Christ. The stealer doesn’t just stop stealing; rather the stealer turns into the giver. This is true biblical repentance: a change of mind leads to a change of action (Luke 3:8–14, Acts 3:19, Acts 26:20).
Jesus told us in Luke 6:45 (NIV) that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” And in Proverbs 18:21 we are reminded how strong our words are, that even “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Our words reflect our hearts. What are you filling your heart with that spills powerfully out of your mouth? Being a Christian means choosing words that build faith in others—and not only that, but also choosing them wisely, in a timely way.
Chapter 4 closes with more sweeping changes of our character. It can all feel heavy and nearly impossible. The renewed mind remembers Jesus and lives in the freedom He gives.
How do we stop the sin and practice what Christ has modeled for us?
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