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Grace tidings: Put off the Old man

Psychology is doing a tremendous amount of damage by directing people to cope without God

"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God does not intend for a rebellious, sinful person to feel good and have great emotional health. If you are not living a life submitted to God and under His control and power, you are not going to feel good about yourself. You should feel bad. Hopefully, your feelings will drive you to the place of saying, “God, I need You. Forgive me. Come into my life and save me from sin and death.”

The Lord is the answer, and the way to receive that answer is by coming to Him through His Son Jesus and becoming a new person in Christ. Psychology is doing a tremendous amount of damage by directing people to cope without God. We aren’t supposed to cope without God. God is the answer for our emotions. There is no pill that can ever mean to us what God means to us. If we can take a pill to numb ourselves and get rid of our depression and discouragement, something’s wrong. We need either to get our body healed or our thinking straight.

God never intended for a pill to do what the God-pill was designed to do.

“Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). If you are a Christian, you have become a totally brand-new person. Now that doesn’t mean your old person ceases to exist; it means your old nature ceases to exist. You are no longer, by nature, a child of the devil, but all of your old feelings, your old emotions, and your old perceptions about yourself are still in your mind.

Your new spirit is the new man within you who is different from your old man. When we are born again, we still have this old part of us that was controlled by wrong attitudes. The Bible calls that old part the “old man.” But we also have a brand new person on the inside. That is what the Bible calls our “new man.” That very simple terminology is used in many different places in Scripture. We have already read Ephesians 4:23, which tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. The verse before it says that we should put off the “old man.” Then the next verse after it says that we are to put on the “new man,” which is created in righteousness and true holiness. So right there in just three verses the Bible uses the terminology “old man,” referring to everything negative about us before we got born again, and “new man,” referring to who we have become in Christ.

It shows that there are now two different personalities on the inside of us. Here is the answer to our apparent problem. I said earlier that the way we view ourselves — our mental image we have on the inside — determines our actions and our emotions on the outside. If you are a Christian, you are a new person in Christ, and that’s something to feel good about. But you still have this other self, this old self, this old man within you that is base, despised, weak, and nothing. You need to recognise that in that old self you don’t have the power to govern your life. You aren’t smart enough to make the best choices. You need to disdain that and die to it. You need to constantly reject your old selfish attitudes, feelings, and emotions to find your new identity in Christ.

There are actually two “yous”: the new, born-again you, and the old unregenerate you — the new man and the old man. You should feel good about the new man. As you begin to see who you are in Christ, that revelation should give you joy, peace, confidence, and security. But at the same time, you must recognise that the old man is not godly and cannot be trusted. It should not be propped up and improved. Few people have a real mental picture, image, or revelation of who they are in Christ. Most of us continue to think about ourselves in the emotional or mental realm, which the Bible calls the soulish part of us. Most of us think that is the real us, but it’s not. The truth is, there’s a new you on the inside, and you have got to get into God’s Word and find out who you are in Christ. Then you can begin to feel good about that new part of yourself. That’s the part of you that is saved. That’s the only part of you that is worth thinking good about.

Psychology doesn’t have this option. Most psychologists don’t believe that anyone can become a new person. They would ridicule this idea, saying, “What you’re talking about is a dual personality. That’s schizophrenic!”.  Although I don’t have the clinical terminology to debate with psychologists on this subject, I will agree with them on one point. Yes, I do have a dual personality. There is a born-again me, and there is a part of me that is not born again, which is corrupt, and has wrong thoughts and attitudes. I’m not going to get better in that area, so there’s no point in trying to improve it. Many people have a wrong understanding about salvation.

They don’t understand that when they are saved there is a part of them that is completely new, a part that is holy and pure and no longer subject to corruption. Instead, they think salvation is simply bringing their old self to the Lord, confessing that they have sinned, and letting God forgive them, cleanse them, and point them in the right direction, saying, “Now, go and do it right this time.” They think salvation is like a new beginning or a new start with the same old self living within them. That is a terrible concept of salvation. Furthermore, it’s incorrect. If all God did was forgive me of my past sins, pick me up, dust me off, and kind of point me in the right direction without changing me on the inside, then I would be bound to fail again. I would blow my second chance just as I did my first chance. That’s not salvation — that’s misery.

Yet that’s the way many Christians see salvation. I know people who honestly made a commitment to the Lord and are born again, but they don’t understand it properly. They are out there on their own, trying to live for God in their own energy and ability, trying to live a good life instead of a bad life, just as they were doing before they were saved. And they end up extremely frustrated. They actually think they can live for the Lord in the flesh, which is another Bible term for the old man. Some people think that the fleshly part of them is actually going to get better and better as they continue to walk with the Lord.

They see themselves improving in their flesh when the Bible teaches that the flesh never improves. It is still the old personality with all of the desires and emotions that go with it. Actually, as Christians mature they should get to a position where they depend less and less on the flesh, deny the flesh more and more, and let that new person they have become in Christ live through them. As Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ. I live, yet it’s not me. I am alive, but it’s not really me. It’s not that old me. It’s not the part I used to consider me. It’s not the old man, but the new man — the one in whom Christ lives. So the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” This should be the confession of the new man.

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