The goal of your saving faith is that you mature – grow up – in Christ. Paul speaks plainly to the Ephesian church about this, in language that demands a change. You can come to Christ as you are… but you can’t stay there. Genuine faith in Jesus Christ will change you from the day of your new birth to the day of your final glorification. In v.24, Paul highlights the tension between the “old man,” crucified in Christ and the “new man,” resurrected with Him.
“…you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:23-32 (HCSB)
Newton’s 3rd Law of Physics states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Those who have “put on the new man” must be about the business of reacting to their former way of life by changing each of those offenses toward Christlikeness. Specifically, Paul says the liar should speak the truth, the angry one should let it go, the thief should become generous, and the filthy mouthed should learn to bless instead of curse.
Then he mentions that those Christians who refuse this change “grieve God’s Holy Spirit” who indwells them. How do we “grieve God’s Holy Spirit”? Bitterness, anger, wrath, shouting, slander, and unforgiveness (vs.31-32).
If we refuse the Christlike change that God’s Spirit desires to bring to our lives, we’re not only stunting our own spiritual growth; we’re also grieving the Holy Spirit of God. What areas of your life look a whole lot more like the “old man” than the “new man”? How might your thoughts, words, and actions be grieving God?
Those who are truly reborn into Christ have a prevailing desire to grow up in the faith. They long to please God, not grieve Him. Determine, today, to put off the “old man” and put on the “new man.” Refuse bitterness, envy, anger, wrath, slander, and unforgiveness. Live for God’s glory, not your own. And watch how He’ll begin to shape and mold your life into the man or woman He created you to be.
Grace and Peace, Tony.