It does not come from making new resolves, plans and schedules for self-discipline though these help when the fundamental motivation is right. It certainly does not come from loathing our lack of self-discipline and resolving again to do better — and this time we mean it. The power for self-discipline comes from the prize — whatever we really want, the reward we believe will yield us the greatest pleasure. Our genetics, conditioning, past trauma, various kinds of mental health struggles, and many other issues all affect us to differing degrees.
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And God understands how they affect each of us. So, we must be careful when assessing ourselves in comparison to others, and very careful and gracious when judging others. We often chalk up our discipline failures to a lack of will power. We look at a LeBron James and think if we just had some of his iron will, we could stick with it.
But will power is not our problem — at least not in the way we usually think. Our will always obeys our wants — our real wants , not our fantasy wants. And our real wants are based on our real beliefs , not our fantasy beliefs. What typically happens is we imagine what experiencing the benefits of attaining some goal might feel like — perhaps a fit body, or reading the Bible in a year, or some kind of career advancement, or the fruit of more intercessory prayer, or a financial savings goal, or a new boldness in evangelism. What we imagine appears desirable to us.
We feel a burst of inspiration, so we make a resolve. We think or want to think our inspiration stems from a new conviction that the reward we imagine will make us happy. But once we experience the unpleasantness of self-denial, the inspiration evaporates and the goal no longer seems worth it, so we give it up. It was a fantasy. And when the fantasy was dispelled, we realized we wanted another reward more and our will followed.
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We even left the baby stroller at home. This is totally unlike any other school in the world. I am given the assignment to become holy; but then I am told that God creates my holiness. This is a very strange school. Look at Ephesians 2: We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. This boggles the mind! I am God's workmanship, God's creation. And not only that, the works that I am assigned to do—he has already prepared those, too! Who is working in this school, anyway?! Do you see why Paul can't just say, "OK, you're a Christian now, get rid of your bad habits and get some good ones.
God saved you, now improve yourself. In the school of grace God creates the new person—and that includes all the new attitudes and emotions and practices that we are supposed to put on. So here I am in the school of Christ. I have heard his voice. He has called me from death to life. I've trusted him to forgive all my sins. I've gladly submitted to enter his school and learn from him how to live to his glory.
Now here I am, and he tells me that I am his workmanship and that the new person I am to become is his creation and the works I am assigned to do are already prepared by him before I even do them. What in the world am I supposed to do?
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Verse 24 says, "Put on the new person! How do you think in such a way that God will be the creator of your thoughts?
How do you feel in such a way that God will be the creator of your feelings? How do you act in such a way that God will be the creator of your actions? How do you put on a new person created by God? This is the connection between the laying off of the old in verse 22 and the putting on of the new in verse When your mind is deceived, you can even love to drink poison.
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But then notice in verse 24 that the new person is created in righteousness and holiness that is fueled and fired by truth. Right attitudes and emotions and actions are born from true views of spiritual reality. And what is the bridge that leads from between the corrupting deceit in verse 22 to the sanctifying truth in verse 24? It is the renewing of the spirit of the mind in verse This is the key to all the assignments in the school of grace: And you will be able to say with one of the most advanced students in the school of grace, "I worked harder than any of them, nevertheless, it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me" 1 Corinthians I did my assignments but really God did my assignments in me and through me.
With this I close until next week when we will flesh it out with the specific example of putting away lying and putting on honesty. The answer is to fill the mind continually with truth about spiritual, eternal, heavenly reality.
In 2 Corinthians 4: Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. He says in Colossians 3: For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. And here in Ephesians Paul prays for us in 1: Why does he want us to see these things with the eyes of our hearts? Because this is what renews the spirit of the mind—when it is full of the truth of God's power and promises. And finally, in 3: Because when your mind is filled with the love of Christ and with all the fullness of God, then the spirit of your mind is renewed and freed from the deceit of the world.
And out of that renewed mind come new attitudes and emotions and practices, and they clothe you with righteousness and holiness. And this new person that you become is indeed the creation of God himself, and to him belongs all the glory forever and ever.
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Put on the New Person. Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Six Layers of Corruption Apart from Christ First, we looked at verses 17—21 where Paul, for the third time in this letter, lays bare the moral misery of life without the saving grace of God.
First, he says in verse 18 that our root problem is hardness of heart. Second, this hardness against God darkens the understanding v. Third, the result of this darkness is a gross ignorance of reality v. Fourth, being ignorant of the true value of things in relation to God and eternity, I yield naturally to covetousness and licentiousness v.
None of my desires has a proper relation to God, and so they are all ruined. This leads, in the fifth place, to a life of futility v. Nothing of any eternal significance is accomplished.