Pastor David B. Curtis

HOME | STUDY INDEX

Media #710 MP3 Audio File Video File

Old Man vs. New Man

Ephesians 4:20-24

Delivered 06/15/2014

We are talking about the worthy walk in Ephesians chapter 4:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, Ephesians 4:1 NASB

"Walk" is the Greek verb peripateo, which means: "to walk, live, conduct one's life." Paul is imploring believers, "Live in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called"—the words "manner worthy" are the Greek adverb axios, which means: "worthily, in a manner worthy of, suitably." The word "axios" has the idea of weight balanced on a scale. Our English word "axiom" is derived from it, and it simply means: "to have equal weight, to have a balance." The idea is, on the one side is the glorious Gospel of God's grace towards us in Christ Yeshua. On the other side, our godly conduct should match this high calling. We are called to live up to who we are. Our life is to match our position. Yeshua put it this way:

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 NASB

Yeshua describes the influence of believers on the world with two metaphors — salt and light. The reason that believers are salt and light is that believers are manifesting Yahweh's character.

I believe that the primary idea Yeshua intended to communicate was that Christians, like salt, are to be a preserving influence on society. Salt functions as a preservative. Salt is a hidden but powerful influence. Light is a visible and revealing influence. Yeshua tells us that we are not only to be the salt of the earth, but also the light of the world. We are called to make a visible impact on the world around us.

Notice what happens when we live righteous holy lives: "that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." How do we cause men to glorify Yahweh? We do this by displaying His character through our lives.

In Ephesians 4 Paul is spelling out how believers are to walk, he is telling us what the worthy walk looks like. We looked last week at how a believer should not walk in verses 17-19:

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, Ephesians 4:17 NASB

"Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk"—"no longer" is from the adverb meketi. It implies that the Ephesians at one time did walk as the Gentiles, as unbelievers, but they are now to walk differently.

Paul tells these believers to no longer walk "In the futility of their mind"—the word "futility" here is from the Greek noun mataiotes, which means: "the inability to reach the goal of its intended design." The original purpose of the mind was to be able to comprehend Yahweh's revelation, but due to the fall a person's mind is unable to accomplish this goal:

being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; Ephesians 4:18 NASB

Unsaved man's heart is hardened against Yahweh. He is like a stone toward all that is spiritual. In verses 17-18, we see a series of cause and effects. If we reverse the order, we see this: The hardness of their heart toward Yahweh caused their ignorance. Their ignorance concerning Yahweh and His will caused them to be alienated from the life of God. Their alienation causes their minds to be darkened, and their darkened minds caused them to walk in the futility of mind. Their alienation from Yahweh causes moral impurity:

and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. Ephesians 4:19 NASB

This is talking about the person who casts off all restraint and has no regard even for public decency. It is to be openly, shamelessly in violation of Yahweh's moral standards.

So the heart that is hard and dark and ignorant of Yahweh will also be an impure and covetous heart. Verses 17-19 give us the negative; this is how we are NOT to live. Then from verses 20 to the end of the chapter Paul gives us the positive; this is how you are to live. So Paul is saying, "The place to start in living as a Christian is to recognize you must THINK DIFFERENTLY than the unsaved do." The Christian life starts in the mind.

Before Paul exhorts believers about their conduct, beginning in verse 25, he instructs them concerning their new identity. Paul will remind his readers that what he is teaching them is not really new at all, but rather the reiteration of what they had already learned. I believe that Paul is referring to the conversion experience of the Ephesian saints in verse 20:

But you did not learn Christ in this way, Ephesians 4:20 NASB

"But"—is the adversative "de" and draws a sharp contrast from the thinking of the Gentiles. The non-Christian's problem consists of his futile thinking, darkened mind, callous heart, and continual lust. Christians are different because they have been taught the truth of the Christian faith. Paul is saying, "You do not have to be like the non-Christians, because you have been taught something else. You have been taught the doctrines of Yeshua the Christ." You can live consistently with this Christian world-view because Yahweh has regenerated you, and His power is at work in you:

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3 NASB

The Christian life begins when you receive eternal life from God through faith in Yeshua Christ. At that moment, you come to know Him.

To "learn Christ" is an unusual phrase that occurs nowhere else. Paul does not say, "You did not learn about Christ," but rather, "You did not learn Christ in this way." He is saying that to become a Christian is a matter of coming to know Christ. Yeshua is the subject of what we learned. Paul is referring to the knowledge that was given to the believers in the past that informed them of who Christ is and what He did for them.

When we learn by going to a university or college or high school, we usually learn subjects. You say, "What are you talking this semester?" "Well, I'm taking English. I'm taking Latin. I'm taking accounting. I'm taking philosophy. I'm taking sewing," or whatever it is. Usually we learn subjects. Sometimes we learn persons, to some extent. We say, "I'm taking Shakespeare." But when we talk about Christian things, we talk about a personal curriculum in which Christ is the whole curriculum. "Ye have not so learned Christ." He's the teacher. He's the textbook, as well.

Some say that "learning Christ" is referring to knowing Him, not doctrine. But how do you "learn Christ" without learning the doctrines which tell us who He is? Is Christ only a man, or is He also God? The difference is of great importance, and it is only from learning the doctrines of Christ in the Scriptures that we will know the answer.

When Paul went to the synagogues, he taught from the Scriptures, demonstrating that Yeshua was the promised Messiah:

and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Yeshua in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." Acts 9:19-20 NASB

You cannot come to faith in Yeshua without changing your thinking. This is what true repentance is all about—changing your mind, and coming to see things as God does.

We learn Christ through the Scriptures, you can be with Him on the boat in the Sea of Galilee in the storm. You can be with Him as He taught the multitudes. You can be with Him as He talked to Peter or as He talked to John. You can be with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. But you can only do this through the Scriptures. This is why I stress reading your Bible. It is through the Bible that we learn Christ.

There is a stress on doctrine in verses 20 and 21, "You have not so learned Christ...you have heard Him...you have been taught in Him." All three of these expressions have to do with teaching:

if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Yeshua, Ephesians 4:21 NASB

"If indeed"—indeed is the enclitic particle and gives assurance that the Ephesians had heard about Christ and were taught in Him. We could translate it: "If you have heard, as I know you have." This particle is important because if it were excluded it would imply that the Ephesians have not heard of Paul's ministry.

"You have heard Him"—probably none of the Asian believers had heard Yeshua in Palestine when He was on earth. None of them had had a personal encounter with the risen Christ, as Paul did on the Damascus Road. What Paul means is that when he and others had preached the Gospel, these people had heard it as Yahweh speaking to them. Yahweh opened their deaf ears so that they didn't just listen to words, but they heard Yeshua calling them to Himself:

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; John 10:27 NASB

We, also, hear Yeshua speaking every time we read His Word or gather to hear the Scriptures taught. When the Bible speaks, Yeshua speaks.

"And have been taught in Him"—this does not express, "taught by Him," because the Ephesians most likely never saw Christ. But it is the sphere or local of the teaching, "in connection with Him." Christ is the object and sphere of a believer's learning.

The phrase "in Him" sums up Paul's view of what it means to be a Christian. As we saw in chapter 1, the saints are "faithful in Christ Yeshua" (1:1). We have received every spiritual blessing "in Christ" (1:3). God chose us "in Him" before the foundation of the world (1:4). "In Him" we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (1:7). He made known to us the mystery of His will, which He purposed "in Him" (1:9). "In Him" we have obtained an inheritance (1:10-11). "In Him" we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13). God's surpassing power towards us was revealed "in Christ" when He raised Him from the dead (1:20). These are just the references to being "in Christ" in chapter 1! The blessings that are ours because we are "in Christ" keep piling up! And we must understand this, we are in Him.

"Just as truth is in Yeshua"—qualifies the preceding comments about learning Christ, hearing Him, and being taught in Him. The reason that Christ is the focus of instruction is that He is the embodiment of truth (John 14:6). The truth of salvation is only in Yeshua the Christ.

This is the only time in Ephesians that he uses the name Yeshua by itself. Why did Paul not say, "just as the truth is in Christ"? The change seems to be more than stylistic. The name "Yeshua" focuses on the historical person who was born of the virgin Mary, who worked as a stone mason, and who walked around Israel teaching and healing the sick. He was crucified on a Roman cross, raised bodily from the dead, seen by many of His disciples after the resurrection, and ascended into heaven. All of these historic facts lie behind the name "Yeshua." The Christian message is the proclamation of certain facts that happened in history in the person of Yeshua. John said:

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Yeshua the Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20 NASB

We know Him who is true! Christ said to His disciples:

So Yeshua was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:31-32 NASB

That is what the truth always does, it sets men free. Free from hardness and darkness and ignorance and licentiousness and uncleanness and alienation. The truth will set you free from futility of mind.

Believers, we must learn to test all our thinking by what the Lord Yeshua has revealed, either directly Himself or indirectly through the apostles whom He has sent to tell us the truth: The truth as it is in Yeshua. And Paul is going to go on to tell us that the truth in Yeshua is that we believers have put off the "old man" and put on the "new man."

In verses 22-24 Paul gives the content, or substance, of the instructions; "the truth," that they had received that sets them free:

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, Ephesians 4:22 NASB

Young's Literal Translations gives us a better translation of this verse. When studying your Bible always compare translations:

ye are to put off concerning the former behaviour the old man, that is corrupt according to the desires of the deceit, Ephesians 4:22 YLT

According to this translation, what are they to put off? They are to put off the former behavior of the "old man." We'll come back to this; keep it in mind as we look at this verse.

"You lay aside the old self"—the words "old self" are from the Greek, palaios anthropos. The NASB translates anthrpos as: "self." The trouble with this translation is that it causes the reader to envision the individual's old life. Anthrpos is man, not self. The CJB really messes this verse up when it translates:

then, so far as your former way of life is concerned, you must strip off your old nature, because your old nature is thoroughly rotted by its deceptive desires; Ephesians 4:22 CJB

Palaios anthropos is NOT "old nature" it is: "old man." This is a terrible translation that gives us the idea that we have two natures. Bob Deffinbaugh writes: "The problem of the Christian is that he has within him two natures, each drawing him in a different direction. The sin nature Paul calls the 'old man.'"

Let me tell you what I think about this idea of saved man having two natures. Listen, I am not saying: This is the truth, walk ye in it! I am sharing with you my thoughts at this time. If you think that I am wrong, please share with me why. My view on this comes from my theology and forty years of Christian experience.

At the incarnation, God the Son, the Second person of the one triune God, was forever joined to true humanity. This joining together has been designated as the hypostatic union. Hypostatic is from the Greek word hupostasis, which means: "substance or essence." In theological language, it means: "person." So the doctrine of the hypostatic union is the doctrine of the personal union of the two natures, the divine and the human, of the Lord Yeshua the Christ. Yeshua is 100% God and 100% man.

Why was it a necessity for Yeshua to have two natures in one person? Bancroft writes, "The union of two natures in one person is necessary to constitute Jesus Christ a proper mediator between man and God. His twofold nature gives Him fellowship with both parties, since it involves an equal dignity with God and at the same time perfect sympathy with man."

Yeshua is One person with Two natures, we cannot illustrate this in the human realm. Yeshua is different from God in that He is mankind, and different from mankind in that He is God. Yeshua is the unique person of the universe. He is the God-Man. So when people say we have two natures are they saying we are god-men? Believers do not have two natures, we have a human nature, we are human. Yeshua is the only man who had two natures. What about what Peter says?:

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NASB

Peter is saying that we become a partaker of eternal life, we share the life of Yahweh. We are in Christ, and we share all He is and has. This is positional reality. We are still all human beings who have been given spiritual life, but we are still just humans. Was Adam more than just human before the fall? We are human beings who are to depend upon and yield to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Alright then, take that with a grain of salt. So what does Paul mean by the figure of the "old man" and "new man"? We are familiar with the terms, but do we know what they mean? The relation of the "old man" and the "new man" has been much disputed. Many hold that at salvation believers receive a new self, but also keep the old self. Salvation thus becomes addition, not transformation. They argue that the struggle in the Christian life comes from the battle between the two natures.

The expressions "old man" and "new man" occur in basically four places in Paul's letters: Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:9-11; Ephesians 2:15; and our text 4:22-24. In each passage the "old man" is the same expression in Greek. The expression "new man" is the same in Ephesians 2:15 and 4:24. In Colossians 3:10, however, the "new man" is rendered through the use of a different adjective. But since the expression is set in contrast to the "old man" of the previous verse, this seems only stylistic.

If we look at Paul's use of this term in Ephesians 2, we can see that the individual understanding is not what Paul had in mind:

by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, Ephesians 2:15 NASB

Here "new man" is kainos anthropos. Paul is talking about Yahweh taking the Jews and Gentiles and making out of them "one new man," hice kainos anthrpos. This is a corporate reference to the Church, which is the "new man." If the "new man" is corporate, so is the "old man." We see this same idea in:

Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self [anthrpos] with its evil practices, and have put on the new self [anthrpos] who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; Colossians 3:9-12 NASB

Here the aorist passive participles indicate that the putting off and the putting on has already been accomplished. He is telling them, "Since you have put off the 'old man' don't lie! That's what unbelievers do."

In this passage we can see that the "new self" (anthrpos) refers to a corporate community where there is neither Greek nor Jew. The "new man" is the Church! And the "old self" (anthrpos) is the corporate Adamic community.

The "old self" (anthrpos) to whom the believers have died is their relationship with Adam. They are no longer part of the Adamic community. They have died to the solidarity of sin and are now alive in a new solidarity of righteousness, which has Christ as its head. Look at how Paul uses palaios anthropos in Romans:

knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; Romans 6:6 NASB

Here we see that the "old man" was crucified with Christ. The word "crucified" is a compound verb meaning: "was crucified with"—Christ. The aorist verb tells us that this is not a repeatable event, but a final, completed event. The passive voice shows us that this crucifixion is not something that we have done, but something done to us in Christ. That man that was joined to Adam was crucified together with Christ.

Because of our union with Christ in His crucifixion, we are dead to sin, we have been set free from its power. We are no longer slaves of sin.

"Our body of the sin"—what is Paul referring to here? Has he switched from the corporate to the individual? I don't think so! "Our" is plural and "body" is singular. And also notice that it is "the sin," which is the same "the sin" that he has been talking about since chapter 5. Most teachers see an individualistic interpretation and say that "the body of sin" is the human body under the control of sin.

When Paul speaks of the "body of sin," he is not writing with an individualistic Greek understanding of the spirit of a man being polluted by his sinful body, but of the solidarity of mankind with Adam—the unredeemed members of the human race form the "body of Sin." The picture is of a covenant community, which is outside of the Kingdom of God. Conceptually, he thinks in corporate terms.

This expression, "the body of sin," occurs nowhere else in Scripture, so we must seek to determine its meaning from the context and the Hebraic understanding of the body. The Jews, who have a strong sense of solidarity, normally use the term sma (body) when referring to a corporate reality. Paul often called the Church, "the body of Christ":

Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27 NASB

So if Paul calls the corporate community that is in Christ the "body of Christ," it makes sense that his phrase "body of sin" would refer to the corporate community in Adam. So the "old man" is unsaved man in union with Adam. We were all in Adam, and all die in Adam. But when the Gospel came to us in our blindness and hardness of heart, Yahweh gave us life through the Holy Spirit, and we trusted Christ. When this happened we were severed in our connection with the "old man" and joined to the "new man":

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

Here the believer in Christ is depicted as a new creature. The "old things" that have passed away is their standing in Adam.

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, Ephesians 4:22 NASB

We could translate this verse like this: "In reference to your life before Christ, you were taught that you have put off the 'old man.'" Harold H. Hoehner writes, "The aorist middle infinitive has the idea of an inceptive act that may have reference to conversion. Also, the lexical verbs of putting off and putting on emphasizes accomplished events rather than the process in activities. The middle voice emphasizes that the subject receives the benefits of his or her action... Hence, believers were taught that they have put off or have laid aside the old person at conversion" (Ephesians page 603).

So Paul is not telling them to put off the "old man," but that the "old man" has been put off, and therefore, they are not to live like unbelievers. This fits the context. Paul had exhorted them not to walk as the Gentiles (v 17-19), because they were taught in him (v20-21), and in the present verses (v22-24), he reminds them of what it was that they were taught, which was that they were in Christ, they have put off the "old man" and put on the "new man."

This word for "lay aside" is a past, complete action.

"Which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit"this is further describing the "old man." The present tense denotes continuing action, which indicates that the corruption continues in the unregenerate person. In effect, Paul was saying, "Don't go on living as if you were still unregenerate."

and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, Ephesians 4:23 NASB

"Be renewed"—is a present passive infinitive, which means that it is an ongoing process that Yahweh performs. Most commentators see this renewal as spiritual growth or practical sanctification, and they say this takes place by renewing your mind, which to them means spending time in the Word of God. Well you can't do anything better with your time than spend it in the Word of God, but that is not what Paul is talking about here.

Now, we said that the "new man" refers to the "body of Christ," the corporate community of believers. This is not talking about practice, but position. Is our position "being renewed"? The word "renewed" means: "to cause something to become new and different, with the implication of becoming superior." It means"to make new, to renew, to cause a change to a previous, preferable state." This word comes to mean: "to restore, to bring back, to make new; not in the sense of recent, but different." If we are growing, what are we growing into? We share all Christ is and has, how could we grow in our position? We can't, but the first century believers did.

This renewal is a covenant transformation form the Old to the New Covenant. The renewed mind is the mind of Christ. The renewing of the mind is not something we do, but something that was happening to the first century saints. The renewal involved progressive conformation into the likeness of Christ Himself. The renewal that Paul is talking about here is a positional renewal that was happening in the first century church. During the transition period, the church was moving from infancy to maturity.

Some interpret "spirit" as: "the Holy Spirit," but the phrase, "of your mind," doesn't fit with this. The Spirit isn't a part of our minds. Others take it as the human spirit, but Paul does not use "spirit" in that way anywhere else in Ephesians. Strong's Concordance says that the Greek word "pneuma," which was translated: "spirit" in this verse, can mean: "mental disposition." That seems to be the way it is used here.

and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:24 NASB

"Put on the new self"—is another past, complete verb. Again, I believe that the sense is that we did put on this "new man" once and for all at the point of conversion, but we must continue to conform our behavior to this "new man" every day by making true in our experience what is actually true of us positionally. In other words, we must live by applying the truth of the "new man" in every situation that we face.

So believers have put on the "new man." We've been made one with Yeshua the Christ. We've been taken out of our relationship to the old Adam. We've been placed in the last Adam, the Lord Yeshua the Christ. We are in Christ. And having become in Him, all of the things that characterized the unsaved are also to be put off.

"Which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth"—this is speaking of the "new man." This "new man" has been created in the likeness of Yahweh. The use of the passive and the prepositional phrase indicates that Yahweh does the work, and believers are the recipients. What Adam lost in the fall has been regained by Christ; a "new creation" in the likeness of God's image.

"Created"—-this refers to the divine creative activity. As believers, our position of righteousness and holiness is not something that we grow into. We were created that way when we were born again.

Righteousness and holiness are aspects of God's character, (Psalm 144:17 and Deuteronomy 32:4. See, also, Luke 1:75; 1 Thess. 2:10; Titus 1:8). These qualities are essentially synonymous, but righteousness refers to living according to God's standards, whereas holiness has the nuance of essential purity.

When a person wants to learn a foreign language, what is the most effective way to do so? It is to enter into that culture and language and become saturated with it. This is how our children learn to talk and to think as we do. If we desire to live lives pleasing to Yahweh, then we must find His thoughts and immerse ourselves in them. His thoughts have been incarnated in Christ, the Living Word, and recorded in the Bible, His inspired written Word.

I dare say that most Christians spend more time in front of their television sets, radios, magazines, and books than they do in their Bibles. We need to become so saturated with His Word that we begin to reflect His ways, His values, His goals, His glory.

Continue the Series

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322