“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”
If you’re near my phone when my daughter calls, you’ll see her contact picture, a throwback to her toddler years. In the photo she’s staring perplexed at her hands, disturbed to see they are covered in bright pink cake frosting. She clearly has no idea that the same pink goo is not just on her hands, but all over her face, too. From her viewpoint, only her hands need to be cleaned.
Don’t we do that? Sometimes in our Christian walk we want to just wash our hands to feel clean. We want the list of dos and don’ts because it’s like spiritually cleaning our hands, doing the bare minimum. We don’t realize that we not only have dirt on our hands: We’ve smeared it all over our face, gobbled it up and internalized it. We need more than just some surface-level cleaning.
That’s why in Ephesians 4 and 5, amid the list of dos and don’ts, every few verses we’re reminded it’s not really about the external acts — it’s about what’s on the inside. As 1 Samuel 16:7 says, Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Christianity isn’t like other rule-based religions. Christianity is about developing a love relationship with the Lord, where we let him not just cleanse us externally but completely transform us. Our obedience to him becomes an outflowing of our love for him.
One of the amazing things about the Christian walk is that God never requires us to do anything in our own strength. It’s through his power that we live out the love of Christ as instructed in Ephesians. He is the one who renews our thoughts and attitudes. He is the one who transforms us. He is the one who cleans us from the inside out. We just need to be willing.
LIVE THE STORY: In what ways do you need God to throw off your old self and put on the new self?
Lord help me see when I’m just washing my spiritual hands and not allowing you to fully transform me. Help me completely throw off my old sinful nature and let your Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes, putting on my new nature, created to be like you—truly righteous and holy.
Cyndie Claypool de Neve
Senior Creative Director