Paul writes to the Ephesians about Christian living. He contrasts the unbeliever with the believer when he says "you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds" (Ephesians 4:17). They operate in darkened understanding and alienation from God due to internal ignorance and hardness of heart (Ephesians 4:18). "But that is not the way you learned Christ," he says (Ephesians 4:20). How, then?
"Put off your old self," he says (Ephesians 4:22). That old self is part of the former life and "is corrupt through deceitful desires." Instead we should "be renewed in the spirit of your minds and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:23-24).
Imagine that! Old self? Shed like a set of dirty clothes. "Corrupt." We don't think like the old self, but are "renewed in the spirit of your minds." The new self is in the likeness of God. That's something.
I'm interested in that depiction of our desires. The old self gives itself to sensuality, greedily practicing every kind of impurity (Ephesians 4:19). That's easy to see; just look around you. It's the everyday news. But Paul calls those desires "deceitful". Really? You know it. We are promised joy and satisfaction in all those things. Take this drug, drink this drink, do this act ... we're quite sure this will be good. Fulfilling. And it is! For about two seconds. Then it's not. We need more. More drugs, more alcohol, more sex, more money, more power -- more. We think indulging our desires will bring happiness and instead it brings dissatisfaction. "Greed", essentially, means "not enough" and that's us. Satan holds out the promise of happy living his way -- Satan, the father of lies. These are "deceitful desires."
Paul contrasts here two lifestyles. One is characterized by futile thinking and the pursuit of personal pleasure. The other is characterized by "the new self" with a renewed mind, a living reflection of God "in true righteousness and holiness." The "deceitful desires" are set aside and replaced with new desires from God. That's what we need, you see. Desires from God. Which is it with you? Is your primary pursuit your own pleasures, or is it something new?
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