The Big Assumption

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August 25, 2021

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

CONSIDER THIS

Did you catch the first three words of today’s text? They are what I call The Big Assumption

“You were taught.” 

The New Testament assumes we were taught the second half of the gospel. Paul assumes “we were taught” this way of discipleship and that he is just reminding us of something with which we are already familiar. 

I don’t know about you, but I was never taught this. I was taught a lot of content and information about God. I was taught I needed to believe it all. I was taught I needed to behave and manage my sin as best I could. But I was not really ever taught about the nature of “self,” other than that it was a problem I would need to deal with. Nor was I taught about the “mind,” other than that it was some part of my brain. On this point the Bible says something really profound and deep and complex here:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

The second half of the gospel is an ongoing process of transformation we must be taught and trained to enter into and live out. I get it at one level yet can hardly grasp it; hence my profound struggle to write cogently and clearly concerning it. Despite the fact that this teaching is everywhere in the New Testament, the truth is it has been generations since it was a mainstay teaching in the Church. Hear it at Colossians 3:9-10:

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

How about Romans 12:2:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I could go on all day with these. The point is to say the New Testament is teaching the second half of the gospel. It assumes we were taught it as part of our discipleship. Most of us were not. Most of us were taught some form of self-improvement with a little Jesus overlay—trying harder to be better, managing our sin as best we could, showing up for church, and otherwise putting on our best face. At least I can say that’s how I’ve lived a lot of my Christian life. I am now thoroughly overwhelmed with holy discontent for this way of low-bar mediocrity. 

Jesus did not come to get us into heaven when we die and prop up our old life in the meantime. He came to bring us into a life of extraordinary abundance, of deep humility, of profound authority, and of breathtaking love. He came to “read the will” of the Father with his very life and give us the inheritance, right here and right now. He came to make us into his very likeness, in every way; ordinary saints resplendent with the holiness of godliness. Burning bushes, on fire—not consumed. 

As I contemplate ending this series before its over, I feel Frost welling up within me, so let’s give him the last word. 

These woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Let’s stay with this prayer from yesterday for the next few days. It is a deep well. 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, I belong to you. You are my Lord and my God. I receive your life in exchange for my life, all of it, right now. I no longer live. You live in me. I can never attain it and I will never have to, for you have attained it all and you are in me. I have been crucified with you. I have been raised with you. Everything in you is mine, and everything is mine in you. And everything in me is yours. The old has gone. The new is come. I have put off the old self with its deceitful desires and I have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of my Creator, created to be like you in righteousness and holiness, in beauty and splendor, in love divine all love’s excelling.

I receive this life which is all at once perfected and yet being transformed with ever increasing glory, from one degree of glory to the next, and all of this from you Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. I am filled to the measure of all the fullness of God and yet it is a fullness that ever admits more. I now live in your Kingdom and this new way of asking and receiving, of seeking and finding, of knocking and opening for I have you. You are the treasure buried in a field and I have found you, and for joy I exchange everything I have for that field and the joy of finding you and being found by you over and over and over again and being found in you with a righteousness and goodness and love not my own but from that comes from you, first to last. You are my longing fulfilled. You are my answered prayer. You are my all in all. Amen, Amen—it is so. 

THE QUESTION

So were you taught this way of the second half of the Gospel in your discipleship? Or were you, too, taught more of a self-improvement, sin management, Jesus-ish version of the Christian life? How’s your holy discontent going?  

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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