The Glory of Christ and His Church—Living as a New Creation
Continuing in Ephesians, let’s examine today what it means to live as a new creation in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24).
Paul starts chapter 4 by exhorting the Ephesians to “walk worthy of the calling by which you were called.” Jesus paid a worthy price for each of us.
Worthy means “of sufficient weight.” Our worth is found in the “weight” of what Christ gave for us. Our worth is measured by looking at Jesus… not our past! Jesus is the confirmation of our acceptance and forgiveness by Father God. As He is, so are we in this world!
Paul continues through the chapter by explaining that Christ has liberally given gifts to us for the purpose of maturing so that each of us could fulfill what we have been gifted with and called to.
In verses 17-19, he states we shouldn’t walk like those who are unbelievers. By understanding the “worth” of our calling and our new identity in Christ, we can grow in Christ and walk as a new creation.
Paul mentions five traits of a worldly lifestyle, summed up in futility of mind or “hopelessly confused” in our thinking (NLT).
- darkened understanding
- alienation from God
- ignorance of God’s way
- hardened heart
- unfeeling or “to have ceased to care”
Paul wants their behavior to change from the pagan lifestyle around them. But you can’t alter the behavior without changing the inner man and renewing the mind. The unredeemed mind is foolish (vs. 17), has darkened understanding, is ignorant and, has a hard heart (vs. 18). It produces moral insensitivity with no sense of right and wrong and has an attitude of “anything goes” (vs. 19).
Our culture today is similar. As I mentioned last week, Christian Deconstruction is occurring with many believers. Believers are questioning everything, and they are deconstructing core beliefs of the faith and of God. While there can be an argument for some types of “thinking and beliefs” to be deconstructed, much of deconstructionism is removing people from core fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Another concern is a modern form of deism. According to a Barna research survey in April 2021, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) is the most popular worldview in U.S. culture today. Core beliefs of MTD include the belief that God is a god who remains distant from people’s lives, that He allows good people into heaven, and that God places limited demands on people.
Moral Relativism is a philosophy that asserts there is no global, absolute moral law that applies to all people, for all time, and in all places. Nineteenth-century philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote, “You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist.”
His concepts on existentialism are still impacting and darkening the understanding of many in society today. His theory that “God is dead” has empowered the enemy’s schemes to enslave humanity in hopelessness, devoid of truth and the power of Jesus Christ. His teachings are of an antichrist spirit.
Jesus came to earth to free humanity from the chains of darkness. He is God’s gift to humanity—to those who believe and are born again. To those who reject Christ, darkness prevails in their lives. Hopelessness and fear reign.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:16-20 NIV)
While we want to believe in inherent human goodness, God’s word reveals that each of us is darkened and has a sin nature. Paul writes:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23 NIV)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23 NIV)
Jesus declares that, while God loves us and made a way for us to be reconciled with the Father and have our sin covered, we are to fear God:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28 NIV)
I recently heard Dr. Michael Brown make this accurate statement, “The greatest moral crisis facing America is a lack of consciousness of God.” Beginning with the Church in America, a renewed love for Christ and of the reverential fear of the Lord is needed.
The state of a person’s heart and mind determines their behavior. The behavior won’t change unless the heart and mind changes. Only by receiving Christ as Lord can one truly change the heart and become empowered by the Spirit to change the mind:
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3 NIV)
Reasoning won’t liberate most people from darkened understanding. However, an encounter with Jesus will! For most, it will be as they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Old things pass; all things become new!
Genuine Christianity, which is led by the Spirit, opens a person to be transformed into the image of Christ, to live in God’s holiness, and to live according to His Word, all of which is contrary to the sin and darkness that permeates culture.
(vs. 20) It’s not a matter of education and degrees, no, it’s about knowing the King—knowing Jesus—learning His ways and nature. Ongoing, daily encounters with the Lord through His Word and Holy Spirit keep us anchored in faith and secure in God’s love.
Paul is assuming that the new Christians to whom he is writing have received basic teaching about Jesus and the behavior He taught in the Gospels.
In the Gospels, we see the type of radical behavior Jesus requires… the behavior which is impossible to live out apart from a new heart and changed mind through the Spirit:
“For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23 NIV)
In this passage in Mark, we read what the source of evil behavior is. Jesus calls these behaviors evil. The solution is new birth. It gives a person a new heart—a new nature—and begins the process of transforming the mind which causes the behavior to change.
“And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 11:19 NASB)
Once the heart is changed, the mind must be transformed!
Once we are in Christ, we have the responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit to remove our old thinking and our old way of living, and to live in our new life in Christ.
Consider this metaphor… It’s like wearing your favorite old coat; it’s comfortable and you’re used to it (old nature), but then someone gives you a new coat (new nature) and you feel obligated to wear it, but it’s not as comfortable or as familiar as the old coat. As a result, you go back to wearing the old one.
If you want to live in victory, you must allow the old nature to go and put on your new nature in Christ! You must decide daily to abide in Christ and to wear the new nature.
We shouldn’t look at people with disdain, but rather we should look at them with love and compassion. We were once darkened, held captive by the prince of the power of the air. Paul is also wanting the reader to be aware that they could once again walk in this worldly lifestyle (vs. 22).
In verses 20-24, Paul contrasts this worldly lifestyle with that of the Christian. We have not “so learned Christ.” What does “so learned” mean?
The answer is in verses 23-24:
“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (NLT)
The Spirit illuminates the mind and heart. Paul prayed this in Ephesians 1:17, “…may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation of Him…”
Christ in you should create an awe and wonder, such that you live your life as a loved child, who is growing up into a mature man or woman. You are a partaker of God’s divine nature—loved, adopted, desired and valued by God.
We must focus on our new identity in Christ first; then, our behavior will change. When the right identity is established, the correct behavior will follow.
I once had a problem with our telephone internet provider. The advertised internet speeds were simply not working at our house. I made a couple of calls, spoke to junior phone technicians who didn’t help much. Ultimately, I needed to talk to a supervisor to solve the internet problem.
People often wrongly assume that Christian behavior is simply a matter of getting our flesh to do certain things and to not do certain other things. It’s like trying to solve the problem with junior phone technicians rather than a senior manager who understands the real problem.
Paul makes it clear that it’s the unrenewed mind—not the flesh—that is the problem!
Often, we are trying to correct problems at a “lower” level when we need to go to the “top.” Trying to correct behavior apart from a transformed heart and mind is futile.
Proverbs states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7 NKJV). When we awaken to our new identity in Christ, and when we recognize that we are indeed a new creation with a new identity and nature, we begin to think and live differently. It all begins with surrender to Christ and being born again!
New Creation Reality
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV)
This may be Paul’s most definitive statement as to what it means to be a Christian. Christ’s death and resurrection for us, and our identification with Him by faith, make existence as a new creation possible.
Creation from kainos… means ‘new in regard to form or quality, rather than new in reference to time’. You have a recreated nature; it’s divine!
We are a completely new creation. We have a new nature—a new disposition—and our inclination is now toward God; our behavior changes as we allow our minds to be conformed to the nature of God.
For example, when I gave my life to Christ, certain behavior immediately changed. Other behavior changed as I allowed my mind to change. This process, referred to as sanctification (which is positional and progressive at new birth), unfolds as we align ourselves with God’s Word, obeying it, and faithfully following Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God is reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing (or counting against) their trespasses to them…” The world’s sin was imputed to Christ… your sin and my sin.
Then, in verse 21, he states that Jesus took our sin upon Himself so that “we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
God doesn’t want to change you; He wants to transform you. This began, when by faith, you accepted Christ and His gift of grace; the Holy Spirit then indwelt you, and He is in the ongoing process of transforming your mind.
We reflect the identity of the one we are most aware of. If my focus is on Christ, I reflect His nature and my behavior will follow my reflection.
We are changed from glory to glory by gazing upon Jesus (Isa. 26:3). We choose to follow Christ and we choose to daily to live in Christ. We choose to count the old nature dead; we choose to believe we are alive in Christ with a new nature.
This is what it means to live as a new creation in Christ!
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Living as a New Creation”:
 Counterfeit Christianity: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, Most Popular Worldview in U.S. Culture. Https://www.arizonachristian.edu/2021/04/27/counterfeit-christianity-moralistic-therapeutic-deism-most-popular-worldview-in-u-s-culture/ CRC Staff. American Worldview Inventory, CRC.