“FROM THE OLD TO THE NEW”                   By Pastor YAU

Text: Ephesians 4:20-24                                      January 20, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Getting older: Few people really like to get old but everyone is getting older regardless if you like it. We call a baby born just a month ago “He is one month old.” I have a problem to use the word “old” to describe a baby only born a month ago. But we have to accept the fact that everyone and everything does get older. Things like cars, clothes, houses, jewelries, shoes, watches, anything and anyone you name it is subjected to getting old. Getting old is a natural process. No one has the power to stop the process. The best way to face it is to accept the fact. But getting old is not the end of life.

2)   Getting wiser: Getting older doesn’t have to be a bad thing if we get wiser through the process. Through a surprise email, we met a couple in Dallas at Christmas whom we met in Ft. Worth, TX in 1976 while I was a student at the seminary. We have not seen each other in the past 31 years. We had a lunch at a Dim-Sum place and counted the changes of life and the lessons learned through those years. It was a time we both shared the experiences in our lives, the mistakes we made and the lessons we learned from them. While we don’t really like to grow older, the wisdom we learned through the years compensates the loss of the youthful looks.

 

KNOWING THE OLD: There are so many. Here just to list a few.

1)    The old world: “The earth and the heavens will perish, but you (the Lord) will remain; they will all wear out like a garment.” (Hebrews 1:11)Paul quoted Isaiah 34:4 to describe the process of getting old of all things including the earth and the heavens. With His infinite wisdom and power, God chose not to create things that may exist forever. He made things that will get old, deteriorated and destroyed in time while new ones will be born and grow to replace the old ones. This is what we call from regeneration. Those who won’t accept this fact had tried in vain to fight against God’s design. Everything grows old and older and less desirable. God made it that way. There is nothing anyone could do about it.

2)    The Old Covenant: “By calling this covenant new, he had made the first one, the Old Covenant, obsolete and what is obsolete and old will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13)Paul was talking about the Old Covenant being replaced by the New Covenant. The Old covenant was based on laws of God and performance of man. But the New Covenant is based on the grace of God and the forgiveness of sins of man. When the Old Covenant shows the hopelessness of man in his pursuit of salvation, God sent His Son to establish the New Covenant, salvation by faith.

3)    The old self: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him, so the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6)Paul was talking about our old nature, the original sinful nature of man that has been in control of our body to sin. That old self has been the master of our life that controls our body to sin. No one is capable of fighting against that old self until the new life in the Lord which gives us spiritual power to overcome its control. (Romans 7:25)

4)    The old sins: “For if you possess these qualities in maturity, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive. If anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:8-9)Peter is talking about the sins of our old nature and the faith of Christ which generates in us the new nature like goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. (1:5-7)If we truly allow the power of faith in Christ to work in us, we will be able to control the sins of our past, the old nature.

 

LOOK FOR THE NEW:

With the new life in the believers, there is no end to look for new possibilities in their life. There are over 100 new possibilities listed in the concordance. Let’s choose and pick a few as illustrations:

1)    New creation: “Therefore, if anyone who is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinth. 5:17)This is the new beginning in the life of a believer. The old life in a man, inherited from Adam, has gone and the new life in Jesus Christ has come with all the new potential and possibilities. Paul used the word “creation” to denote a new specie apart from that of Adam. The specie from Adam was corrupted by Satan and sin. The new specie in Christ opens a new horizon for eternal life.

2)    New life: “We were buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)Baptism always follows the new conversion in the journey of faith. The picture of baptism represents the death of the old self, the burial of the old self with Christ and the resurrection of the new life with Christ to eternity. This new life will bring us into a new style and purpose: the style away from the old and the purpose away from the self. This is about our everyday life, our outward demonstration of the new life inside so we may truly become witnesses for Christ.

3)    New process: “But we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinth. 4:16)This is a new process of renewing in the life of believers by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul in Romans 12:2 said the same thing: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The heart of a new believer will be in a process of renewal from the point of that new creation as the growing process of a new born baby. This process will continue all the way of his life. That’s why it is a day by day process. We become more like Jesus day by day.

4)    New values: “But whatever was to my profit before, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compare to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:7-8)This is a new value system replacing an old system. A true follower of Christ will pursue Christ more than anything he considered important in the past. His priority list is going to change upside down. His purpose of life is changed. His goal is changed. His pursuit is changed. Everything is new.

 

BECOMING A NEW MAN: (Eph. 4:20-24)

1)    Determine to change: “But you did not come to know Christ that way.” (4:20)What way? The old way as described in 4:17-19 with all the filthy thoughts and acts when they were still sinners, people without the knowledge of God or His power in their life. Paul is talking about a mental decision, a turning point in life for the better, higher and more in Christ. Everyone who has learned about Christ, decided to follow Christ must have that determination to change, to grow, to bear fruits and be more useful. This is about the mindset that points to a direction, a purpose, a goal.

2)    Determine to learn: “Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” (4:21)This is about hearing, listening, learning the truth of Jesus from those who know him, have experienced him and are willing to teach, to share. Just as in the training of trade stills, we have to learn, to know and to practice to be better, to be more efficient and productive.

3)    Determine to renew: “You were taught in regard to your former way of life, putting off your old self, to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” (4:22-232)This is about putting off the old way of life, the old practices and old habits. We all have our old life when we become Christians. But since we are follower of Christ, we need to get rid of the old in order to grow the new. We cannot and should not continue to live our life the old way. On the other hand, we need to be made new in our attitude and mindset because of our new relationship with God through Christ.

4)    Determine to be like Him: “To put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (4:24)No one could ever be like God. But this is a desire, a motivation and purpose for us to change from the old to the new, from worldly nature to godly nature. The term “Christian” means “little Christ.” This is how we bear witness of Christ in our daily life as we interact with people at home, at work and in school. When people of the world see our renewed life, new attitude, new love and spirit of care, they will know we are new people in Christ and God will receive glory and honor.  (John 15:8)

 

CONCLUSION:

1)      Why new? The desire to change and renew is a desire of improving and getting better. This should be the desire of everyone. It is very appropriate to start the renewing process at New Year time. We live only once and have only one opportunity to do better each day. Paul said he never looked back but looked forward to finish his race of life.

2)      What’s new? First is the new life in Jesus Christ. This is done by our personal faith in Him and His forgiveness of our sins. Then it is the learning and growing process as we study His word and learn from His example. We also need to renew our purpose of life from self serving to God serving. By serving Him though His church, in the community we find new meaning of being follower of Christ.

3)      How to renew? Confess your sins and ask His forgiveness. Seek God’s purpose of life in you and be obedient to follow. Present your body and soul to Jesus and ask Him to guide you though each day of your life. You will become a witness of His power and the light of this world. Your life will be a blessing to many people.