to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
I. THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRUTH IS OF SUPREME IMPORTANCE TO US. The means is proportioned to the end. If the life of Christ is necessary for the revelation of truth, the truth thus revealed must be of first moment. Emotion without truth is vapid sentiment; and action without truth can have no moral character, and is as likely to be hurtful as useful. It is a blind man's groping. We can dispense with a superfluity of dogma. We have too many words about truth. But truth itself, the living spiritual reality, is the very breath of our souls. To know ourselves and our vocation, to know God, his love and his will, to know the spiritual order of things as far as it touches our own lives and conduct, is of vital interest.
II. TRUTH IS REVEALED IN CHRIST. Truth is written on the great book of creation, but in obscure hieroglyphics, for nature is an inarticulate prophet. Truth has also come through the inspiration of thought and conscience in poets and seers. But then it is always in words; and words make it but a clumsy garment hiding its finer beauty and, at best, speaking at second hand. In Christ we see truth intelligible, powerful, touching. It is revealed in his very self and in his words and deeds as they are the outcome and signs of his character and nature. Christ is the truth. He has but to be and to be seen and heard for truth to be revealed.
III. THIS REVELATION OF TRUTH IN CHRIST IS OF A DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER.
1. It is human. Truth is seen in Jesus just because he is a real and perfect Man. As man is made in the image of God, the very being of a perfect man must be a manifestation of Divine thoughts.
(1) Therefore any dogmas that are contrary to humanity are false.
(2) Therefore, also, we need not fear truth. She has a human countenance.
2. It is living. Truth in words is cold and dead, though it may be clear and beautiful. Truth in Jesus is alive, revealing itself in action, putting teeth energy, responding to our sympathy.
3. It is spiritual. Truth of religion and of conduct is what we see in Jesus, not reminiscences of secular history nor anticipations of material science. The highest truth concerns God and the soul, duty and the unseen world. 4. It is beautiful. Christ's glory was full of grace and truth. In his face truth has no terrors, but the most winning attractions and the most moving loveliness.
IV. SUCH A PRESENTATION OF TRUTH CALLS FORTH DUTIES ON OUR PART.
1. We have to "learn Christ." That is the one lesson for our souls. We may learn all systems of theology and yet know nothing of the highest truth, if we do not know Christ. They who sit at the feet of Jesus drink from the deepest fountains. As Christ is best described to us in the four Gospels, these Gospels are the chief source of Christian knowledge. Yet inasmuch as the apostles interpret the mind of Christ, we may learn Christ from the whole of the New Testament But we must also come to a personal communion with Christ in order to know him aright.
2. We have to Trove how we have learned Christ by our conduct. This knowledge is to shape our actions. Fidelity, purity, and charity of life must make men see what truth we have found in Jesus. - W.F.A.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.
1. How few can stand an examination on these fundamental points, if they take the law of God as their light and their test!
2. Not, less, perhaps more, is required of women than of men. Their relations to society, their relations as wives and mothers, make it peculiarly desirable that they should be fountains and models of virtue.
3. These simple moralities, in our circumstances in life, and under the temptations which are brought to bear upon us, will necessitate a determined battle. Some men conquer easier than others. I believe in hereditary tendencies. Men like gilded characters and silvered characters; but they do not like gold nor silver in character. And there is a prevalent impression that a man stands in his own way if he is too rigorous. You shall hear it said, "What does a man want to be such a fanatical fool for, as to always tell the truth? What is the use of a man's breaking his own back by being so honest as that? Great are the forces that are ready to pull you down; but if you did but know it, greater are they that are for you than are they that are against you."
(H. W. Beecher.)I. THE APOSTLE'S DESCRIPTION OF HOLINESS. It is putting off the old man, or the corrupt nature so called, which hath spread its influence throughout the whole man, the soul (Ephesians 4:17-20), and the body (Romans 6:13, 19); and which, like a man, consists of various parts. The deeds of the old man are very vigorous and strong, though old: mighty deeds (Galatians 5:19-22; Ephesians 4:25-29); each member acts its part: unbelief, like the heart causing the blood to circulate through the whole body, influences all the other members: pride produces contention, contumely, strife, etc.; self-will leads to murmuring, disobedience, presumption, etc. This must be put off: the metaphor is borrowed from an old worn-out or unclean garment, which we would cast off with abhorrence. We must also be "renewed in the spirit of our minds," in the faculties of the soul, by obtaining an enlightened understanding, rectified will, pure and well-regulated affections. We must "put on the new man," a new creature: so called because it influences the whole man, soul and body (text, and 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 6:20). And it consists of different parts — the soul in which God dwells, and which He animates, influences, directs, actuates, commands (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:22; Romans 8:9-14; the body and its members (Colossians 3:12-17; Galatians 5:22); holiness, righteousness, viz., faith, humility, self-denial, love, meekness, gentleness, patience, etc. The deeds of the new man, are all vigorous, strong, active. It is "the image" of God, "created" by Him, "renewed in knowledge." This must be put on as a "robe of righteousness."
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING THIS ADVICE OF THE APOSTLE. If we take it not, our Christianity is but a name or profession, and will only render us more guilty. We cannot glorify God, as being unlike to Him, and at enmity with Him. Nor can we set a good example, and thereby edify others, for the corrupt tree will "bring forth corrupt fruit." We cannot be happy ourselves, for this old man is corrupt, like an old, threadbare, ragged, and dirty garment, which cannot cover us, which exposes us to shame, and is offensive, hurtful, encumbering, and entangling. All the evil dispositions of it are productive of misery. Its lusts or desires are foolish, unreasonable, violent, insatiable, deceitful; promising, but not yielding satisfaction. We are not fitted for, and cannot enter heaven without the new man.
III. HOW TO ATTAIN THIS HOLINESS. It is the gift of God: He "creates" it; but not without our cooperation; He works on us as upon rational creatures, not superseding but directing and assisting us in the use of our faculties, and has appointed certain means to be used by us. We are to "hunger and thirst after righteousness"; and in order to this, should consider frequently, nay continually, the nature and necessity of it, our want of it, the great worth of it, God's willingness to give it, and cultivate a spirit of prayer.
(J. Benson, D. D.)
That ye put off the old manI. CHRISTIAN LIFE BEGINS WITH RENUNCIATION. "Put off concerning the former conversation — the old man" — the corrupt self that has been fostered under the influence of worldly, carnal views.
1. This renunciation must be profound. "The old man," i.e., our former unconverted self. We must be careful that we do not confound this personal repudiation with any ecclesiastical rite or relationship. The purity demanded of us is inward, spiritual, moral. It is one thing to stand right with the Church, to be blameless concerning its ordinances, to be acknowledged by its authorites, to be fortified by its sacraments; it is another thing to renounce sin and embrace righteousness before Him who is a Spirit, and who judgeth not according to the outward appearance, but according to the heart.
2. This renunciation must be complete. The "old man" is the personification of our whole sinful condition before regeneration, and the "old man" is not to be maimed, some fragments of the mutilated personality to be rejected, some to be retained, but he must be crucified, killed, put away once and forever. There must be, as we have seen, the thorough rejection of evil in our heart, even the evil we have loved longest and best. People sometimes say, "Well, there is nothing wrong in the thing itself; no harm in the thing itself." Now "the thing in itself" is a fine theme for metaphysicians, but such a phrase may seriously mislead in practical life. What do we know about things in themselves? The theatre, intoxicating drink, cards, music, fiction, and a hundred other things — we know nothing of these things in themselves; we only know them relatively, the company into which they bring us, the influence they exert upon us, the habit of mind they tend to foster. Do not stay to determine what things are in themselves, inquire only what is their influence upon you, direct and indirect, and if that influence be not altogether pure and helpful, let such things go; be more afraid of sin than of puritanism.
3. This renunciation must be immediate. Daniel said to the king, "Break off thy sins by righteousness" (Daniel 4:27). Our sins are not to be tapered off, or rounded off, but broken off short and sharp. It may be a dangerous thing suddenly to change our physical habits, but there is no danger in suddenly changing our bad habits for good ones; the danger is not to change them suddenly.
II. THE SUCCESS OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE LARGELY DEPENDS UPON THE THOROUGHNESS OF THE RENUNCIATION IN WHICH IT BEGINS. Putting off comes before putting on, and we can only put on the new man in the measure of the depth and determination with which we have put off the old. If there is any defect in our renunciation, it will infallibly betray itself, and greatly hinder us.
1. On the completeness of such renunciation depends our future health and soundness of spirit. If our repentance does not go deep, if the grace of God does not search and purify the very grounds of our life, we shall never enjoy soundness and strength. If any of the vicious element is left, it will work and spoil the sweetness of our soul.
2. On the completeness of this renunciation depends our future freedom and happiness. It is essential to the freedom and peace of our life that we should break utterly with the world.
3. On the completeness of this renunciation depends the full attainment of spiritual beauty of character. Stephen Grellet, the Quaker preacher, said once to an assembly of his brethren, "You are starched before you are washed." That is a bad thing indeed, for however much starch may be used, the original dirt will show through and disgrace the well-got-up robe. It is thus with character, as the graphic preacher taught. Some do not in conversation get rid of original weaknesses of character, and these show through raiment that the cleverest fuller has done his best to make dainty.
4. On the completeness of this renunciation largely depends our future safety. We all know people who have contracted vicious habits, who have suffered deeply in social respect, who have become linked in with a set they cannot renounce, and such people often feel, and their friends feel, that if they are ever to recover themselves and lead a new life, they must leave this country altogether and begin again with new scenes and associations; so these unfortunate ones often succeed in putting the ocean between themselves and the scene of their fall and misery, and so doing ofttimes proves their social salvation. So the safety of the new convert depends upon putting a whole ocean between his regenerate self and his old self. Whether we go to America or Australia or not, let us be sure, by God's grace, that a great gulf is fixed between our present spirit and our past, between our new manner of life and our past, between our new manner of life and our past conversation. It has proved a fatal error to thousands not to have put away the old man as thoroughly as might be.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
(R. Tuck, B. A.)
I. HIS DWELLING place. Sin has its seat in the heart. Every disposition to evil comes directly from the heart. The body is but the machine of the man" Depravity is in us, dwells in the secret place of the temple.
II. HIS DISPOSITION. Loves darkness, thirsts after the gratification of every evil desire; hates the light, turns with loathing from the light of purity, whether seen in man or God. And he is subtle — deceives those in whom he dwells, so successfully that they disbelieve in his presence.
III. HIS INFLUENCE. Pervades every part of the man. Sears the conscience, affects the will, defiles the passions, perverts the mind, hinders the body.
IV. HIS ACHIEVEMENTS. At his instigation every vile deed was done that defaces the page of history.
V. HIS LONGEVITY. In the hearts of some he will dwell forever. The lost sin on, although they suffer as they sin. In the case of believers, though put off, still he will seek to gain his old ascendency, or be the cause of bitterness until they reach the grave. In conclusion: Let each ask(1) Who is this "old man"? He is your former self — the self that loved sin and hated God.(2) How can I put him off? Ask God to give you a new nature, and then the "new man" will struggle with the old, and at last triumph.
(R. A. Griffin.)summum bonum. "I will pull down my barns, and build greater," said another, in the idea that he had "much good laid up for many years," and yet, in the very. night of his fond imaginings, his soul was required of him. Belshazzar drank wine with his grandees, and perished in his revelry. The prodigal son, who for pleasure and independence had left his father's house, sank into penury and degradation, and he, a child of Abraham, fed swine to a heathen master. Chalmers felt literary ambition to be in itself a lust of the old man, and a hollow vanity, till it was chastened and sanctified by the grace of God. The pretentious delusions of the old man must be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary.
(J. Eadie, D. D.)Deuteronomy 21:18).
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