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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Kainos (Ephesians 4:20-24)

    This is the time of year when people start to look forward more than any other time of year. We look forward to the newness of a new year, a time of renewal, and change. Many people look at ways that they can change something undesirable in their life: a way of eating, a bad habit, an attitude; and make something better for themselves.
    The reality of these types of New Year’s Resolutions though, is that the majority of them are abandoned by the end of January. However, those who profess to be in Christ, are called to a constant state of renewal, change, transformation, and progress. For those who are in Christ, the choice to be in Christ cannot be separated from change. So, as we look forward to a new year, one that is hopefully mostly free of a world-wide pandemic, let’s look at what we as Christ-followers are called to be, not only for New Years, but for every day.
    I’m going to be looking at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this morning, specifically Ephesians 4:20-24. If you have your Bible, I invite you to join me in that passage. Paul starts this section of the letter with a simple encouragement, before expanding on what that encouragement means, he told the Ephesian Christians, “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called”.
    As I said, Paul then expands upon this idea, calling them to unity in Christ, and to a higher way of living. Let’s look at Ephesians 4:20-24, “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
    Paul told the Ephesian Christians that they did not learn Christ in this way. When he said this, he was talking referring to what he had just talked about before in his letter to them. He talked to them about their unity in Christ, reminding them that there is just one God that they serve, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism, one hope, and so they should be one body.
    This was what Paul had taught them when he first visited them, which means that because Paul felt the need to remind them of what he had taught them because they were no longer practicing what they had been taught. When Paul corrected a church in his letters, it was because they needed correction. Paul was correcting their sense of unity because they weren’t showing unity in Christ.
    If you are following along in your bulletins this morning, this is going to be your first blank: Paul was telling them that they did not learn Christ in a DISUNITED way. Being a disunited, disjointed, not really body of Christ was not what Paul had taught them.
    He also told them that they did not learn Christ in DARKNESS, which is your second blank. After Paul corrected their disunity, he set out to correct that they had been still walking in darkness, walking in the ways of the flesh that they walked in before they came to Christ. In fact, the word that Paul used for darkness talks instead about being spiritually paralyzed. He told the Ephesian Christians that they had lost their ability to be sensitive to the Spirit, just in the same way that a leper loses sensation in their extremities. Paul reminded them of both these things, to make his main point: they did not learn Christ like this. They did not learn to be disunited and walk in darkness without being sensitive to the movement of the Spirit when they came to Christ.
    Paul then says, “If indeed you have heard Him and been taught in Him.” This is Paul’s tough love here for the Ephesian Christians. He’s saying, “Look, you’re so disunited and you have lost the ability to listen to the Spirit, and that’s not what I taught you. So listen, if you really are in Christ, if you really have heard Him call you, if you really have been taught by Him, knock it off! Because that’s not what you were taught. So if you really are a Christ-follower, here’s what you need to do…”
    “in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
    If you really are in Jesus, lay the old MAN aside. That’s your next blank. The word for self here is kainos, which actually means man, as in human. Paul told the Ephesians, if they really were in Jesus, they were to lay aside the old man. Put aside everything that you used to be. That old human cannot exist anymore if you are in Jesus. Paul says that that old human is constantly in the process of being corrupted by lies. Put that old human away.
    I like this quote I found as I was working through this passage, “We may come to God very much in our old nature, but it must be with a desire to be changed from what we are to what we shall be. This is not a rearranging of attributes, or simply a dusting off and fixing up. This is a complete and total change wrought within the individual which renews and transforms from the inside out, into the holy image of God.”
    Putting away the old human isn’t just a matter of keeping a New Years Resolution. Paul tells us that we are to be renewed in the spirit of your MIND which is your next blank. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul says something very similar, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
    Paul says that in order for us to put away the old man, our minds must be renewed, transformed, changed. The word Paul uses here for renew and transform is the word we get our word metamorphoses from. It’s what a caterpillar goes through when it becomes a butterfly. It’s a complete change in form of who we were before into who we will be.
    We are renewed in our minds by completely offering ourselves to God. We hold nothing back from Him. Paul says to put on the new MAN, your last blank in your bulletin. Again, using the word kainos, you are to be a completely new person which God created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. A new human. A human that never existed before.
    I love what Paul is talking about here, when he talks about this new human being in the likeness of God created in righteousness and holiness of truth. What he’s talking about here is that when we come to Christ and we put aside the old man, the old human, and completely give ourselves to God, and allow Him to make us into a new human, what He makes out of us isn’t merely an imitation of Christ, it’s something better.
    Let me explain. I like to bake. I don’t get as much time to bake as I would like, but every now and then, I do get some time and inspiration strikes me and I have to bake something. I don’t like cooking, I like baking, and usually it means baking some sort of dessert. Given the choice between real vanilla extract and imitation vanilla…I would take the real vanilla extract every time.
    Imitation is surface level. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, that’s true, but it doesn’t compare to the real actually thing. At best, an imitation just looks like the real thing, maybe acts like the real thing, but is void of all the richness of the real thing.
    Paul is saying here that if we are really in Christ, we have put the old human away, we have completely surrendered to God to renew us, and the new human that He makes us into isn’t merely an imitation of Christ, it’s a participation with Christ. Peter put it this way in 2 Peter 1:4, “Through 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 on account of lust.”
    We become participants with Christ. We become like Christ. Not divine, but getting to participate with the divine as He creates us to be a new human.
    To be a Christian is not simply to learn about Christ, but to learn Christ, to have heard Him, and to be taught in Him, even as the truth is in Jesus. Anything less than such a personal encounter with the living person of the Son of God will leave your soul without the divine power to reject the old way of life and live the new life.
    This isn’t a quick fix. This isn’t a self-help fad. This isn’t a New Years Resolution. This is a way of living each and every day that chooses to constantly put aside the old human and allow the Spirit to work in us to create a new human, each and every day. This is a new life.
    Paul finishes this portion of scripture, which extends all the way into Ephesians 5 by telling them that the fruit of such a life that is new is that they will show the kindness and compassion of Christ, that they will walk in love, that they will avoid evil, that they will walk in wisdom, that they will mutually and humbly submit to one another. But those are all the fruit of staying in Him. Stay in Him, abide in Him, hear His voice, learn from Him, walk with Him. That’s the new life He calls us to.

1. What does Romans 12:1-2 say about how we experience transformation from the old to the new?
2. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” or, outdo one another in showing honor. How might you outdo yourself in showing love to a fellow believer this week?
3. What does Romans 12:14 say about our treatment of pre-Christians?

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