Spirit – Baptism – BT9
Holy renewal of our New Man comes by the Holy Spirit through intimate relationship
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Now in Ephesians 4:23-24 Paul tells Christians to do the opposite of their previous “dark” lifestyle: “to be ongoingly renewed (a) by the means/instrument of the Spirit (b) of/belonging-to your mind (c), and/coupled to put upon oneself like clothes (d) the completely different-in-kind kainos New Self.” The humanist view that this “spirit of the mind” refers to our human spirit, even that of unregenerate man, ignores all of Paul’s writings about the Holy Spirit dwelling within the New Christian’s mind, heart, or innermost being (b)! It also violates the context that focuses on what God has given us to live the Christian life – not our religious works we can boast in! Most Greek scholars do NOT see this “to put on” (e) as a reference to the one-time act of regeneration that a Christian passively “received or welcomed” (f) when they actively lambano “took a hold of” Christ in order to be saved. <Notes> a) ananeoo in the passive voice: renovated, reformed in the mind or innermost being, b) en pneumati, c) mind, heart, and innermost-being are used interchangeably by Paul – see Identity, d) enduo: put on like clothes, for one’s own benefit, e) enduo in the aorist tense, middle voice, f) apodechomai – Acts 2:41, dechomai – 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:21.
In this latter sense, Paul speaks in Titus 3:5, “When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us for righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the paliggensia washing of regeneration (a) and/coupled anakainosis renewal (b) of/belonging-to the Holy Spirit, whom He already poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that already having being made/declared righteous by His unconditional-favor-of-grace we might [in the future] become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” <Notes> a) paliggensia: ‘birthing/beginning again’ thus “born-again” either physically of thecreation at Christ’s 2nd coming in Matthew 19:28, cf. Romans 8:18-25, or here of the “New Creation” Christian, b) anakainosis: complete renovation or change from a corrupted life to a completely different-in-kind, New life within you.
Anakainosis regenerational renewal is the giving of completely different-in-kind kainos New life within you by being “born-again” into a radically different-in-kind kainos New Covenant, whereas ananeo “new-in-time-within you” renewal is like Lamentations 3:23 “Your mercies are new every morning” change of daily clothes, but certainly both are accomplished by the means of the Holy Spirit!
Many scholars see the aorist tense and middle voice of enduo “to put on” in verse 23 above as the reflexive action of “putting on oneself the new self’s clothes (behavior) for the benefit of one’s own self,” with the action viewed as a whole or in its entirety, regardless of the amount of time it takes to accomplish, with the focus on “getting the job done,” not so much on the ongoing process that it actually takes. They do so because the surrounding text emphasizes current behavior, not the historically past salvation of these Christians. Therefore, in context, this translates best as “get the job done of putting on oneself for one’s own benefit the fresh, clean clothes (behaviors) of the completely different-in-kind New Self.”
This completely different-in-kind “New Self” was already created once-and-for-all-time inside Christians “after the likeness of God in true righteousness or “right-living” and/coupled holiness – sacred separateness or consecration for the ordinary or unclean world. We are already made right and holy unto God by Christ’s righteousness and holiness! However, the practical application of this “putting on the new clothes” is that Christians are now to speak the truth, viewing others as “neighbors, members of one another,” not “letting the sun go down on their anger,” giving “no opportunity for the devil,” doing “honest work to be able to share with others,” giving “grace to others and building them up with our speech,” and “not grieving the Holy Spirit but instead being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving as Christ has forgiven them.” These are samples of the “fresh, clean clothes” they are to regularly put on themselves.
However, it is possible that Paul could have been using the aorist tense of enduo “to put on” as he had been all along in the immediate context of Ephesians 4:20-22, to simply remind the Christians of what they had already done, so that this remembrance will then affect their current behavior as well. They already [aorist tense] learned, heard, and were taught Christ, but their decision in the [aorist] past to become a Christian was all or nothing. Once you do “put off” and “put on” in order to become a Christian, you are locked into that same decision process for a lifetime: “20But that is not the way you [aorist] learned Christ! – 21 assuming that you have [aorist] heard about Him and were [aorist] taught . . . 22 to [aorist] put off (a) your old self, [which is] down from/according-to/in-the-same-manner-as your former conduct (behavior) and is habitually corrupted through deceitful desires.” <Notes> a) apotithemi, aorist reflexive: put away, cast off.
This seems to be Paul’s “since you have been, now ongoingly” reasoning also in Colossians 3:1-11, where he uses similar words: Since you [aorist] have already been raised with Christ, ongoingly seek the things that are above, . . . 2 ongoingly set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you [aorist] have already died, and your life [aorist] was already hidden with Christ in God. . . . 5 Therefore [introducing present action based on past actions] definitely put to death (a) what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. . . . 7 In these you too [aorist] once walked, when you [aorist] were living in them. 8 But now [presently] you must definitely put off (b): anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Ongoingly do not lie to one another, [aorist] having already put off (c) the old self with its [current] practices 10 and/coupled [aorist] having already put on (d) the completely different-in-kind kainos New Self, which is presently, ongoingly being [passively] renewed (e) toward/reaching genuine, experiential, relational epignosis knowledge down-from/according-to the image of its (the new self’s) Creator.” <Notes> a) sometimes the aorist is viewed in entirety but here it’s used emphatically as ‘most definitively’ or ‘get it done,’ b) apotithemi, aorist reflexive: viewed as a whole, definitively: put away, cast off, c) apekduomai, aorist participle: past tense put off/away completely from, d) enduo, aorist reflexive participle is past tense in relation to the current renewal, e) anakainoo: complete renovation or change from a corrupted life to a completely different-in-kind, kainos New life within you.
Can you see that Paul appeals to the Christian’s past re-generational decision to “put off and to put on the new man” to remind them that they are similarly “locked into” discontinuing the “practices” of the “old man” and continuing the practices of the “new man?” He doesn’t leave them with this daunting task to do all by themselves as “works religion” would have, but reminds them that the “new man” is ongoingly, radically being renewed. But how? The answer is the key to the Christian life!
Being ongoingly made completely different-in-kind when the “renewal” is directed toward and reaching the genuine, experiential, relational epignosis knowledge of the New Man’s “image of the Creator,” which we know is Christ per Colossians 1:15 and 2 Corinthians 4:4. Holiness doesn’t come from reading scripture but making intimate contact with God through Christ by the Spirit! That is how the New Man becomes renewed! It is a work by the means of the Holy Spirit as we stay in intimate relationship with the Lord!
The danger in all of Paul’s letters is our tendency to focus on the many “do and don’t” verses, but then gloss over the “how to make holiness even possible” verses. Too often we think by memorizing the “do’s and don’t” passages, turning them into even more than the 613 commandments than the Jews had (the internet says there are 1050 NT commandments, when I could only find 2), and setting off to obey all this “for Christ” or “in the name of Christ,” that this is what Christianity is all about – where the rubber meets the road.
Even here in this Ephesians 4:22-24 passage, it was easy to gloss over the “means/instrument” in which our “ongoing renewal, renovation, or reformation” is actually being done passively to us – “to be ongoingly renewed by the means/instrument of the Spirit of/belonging-to your mind/heart/inner-being.” Here is Paul’s entire point: The entire [aorist] definitive lifetime habit of “effectively putting on oneself for our own benefit the clothes of the completely different-in-kind New Man” comes as a result of the ongoing process of our mind/heart/innermost-self being renewed by the means of the Holy Spirit. Let’s not get the cart before the horse! The first makes the second possible.
In fact, the conjunction kai many bibles translate “and” means much more than this in Greek. In Greek, de is more like our word “and,” translated as “also, next, etc.” However, kai connects ideas together (is copulative), thus relating them, and sometimes even has a cumulative emphasis, so it can be translated “and even, or indeed.” And in Greek the word order is what brings out the emphasis! Paul’s emphasis is in the right place: To [aorist] definitely “put off your old self’s” behavior like dirty clothes is kai connected to being ongoingly renewed by the Spirit that’s in your mind/heart/innermost being, which is cumulatively kai even how we are to [aorist definitively put on the New Man’s behaviors as fresh, clean clothes! The Holy Spirit is how you become holy!
Paul speaks elsewhere of “renewal” as the key to practical sanctification or holiness. In Romans 12:2, he says: “Ongoingly do not in possibility be conformed to this world, but be ongoingly transformed by the anakainosis renewal (a) of your mind, in order that by testing you may discern what is the will of God” – see New Covenant Ways – BT16. This “transformation by renewal” is a “continuous process through which man becomes more fully Christ-like, being a co-worker with God.” Note that Paul again says this takes place in the Christian’s mind, heart, or innermost being. Paul uses the verb form anakainoo in 2 Corinthians 4:16 to describe his evangelistic team’s reaction to persecution: “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is anakainoo being renewed day by day.” We saw the only other use in Colossians 3:9-10 above: Ongoingly do not lie to one another, [aorist] having already put off the old self with its [current] practices and/coupled [aorist] having already put on the completely different-in-kind kainos New Self, which is presently, ongoingly being [passively] anakainoo renewed toward-and-arriving at genuine, experiential, relational epignosis knowledge down-from/according-to the image of its (the new self’s) Creator.” <Notes> a) anakainoo: complete renovation or change from a corrupted life to a completely different-in-kind, kainos New life within you.
As Christian musicians, we know that the ongoing renewal of our mind/heart/innermost-being is what leads to changed behavior, like daily putting on clean clothes, but is this done through the work of religious disciplines that we are often taught like fasting, daily reading & study of the bible, faithful tithing, and regular attendance of church? Paul says No! He says this renewal is accomplished “by the means/instrument of the Spirit” or “the renewal that belongs to the Holy Spirit” – the Holy Spirit is the only one that can make you holy. This day-by-day renewal is how we are metamorphically transformed instead of being conformed to the world, and the result is discerning through practice what God’s will is. This knowledge isn’t gained by reading and studying scripture or any other “discipline” that the church is pitching.
However, just as with “routinely being completely-filled by the means/instrument of the Spirit,” the question is “What is our part? What do we do?” A major clue is that the “New Self is ongoingly renewed toward/reaching genuine, experiential, relational epignosis knowledge [that is] down-from/according-to the image of its Creator.” Jesus is the exact image of God! “Renewal and filling” is NOT going to come from reading and studying scripture or any other “discipline” routinely preached to us, but ONLY if we move toward and reach an intimate relationship with Christ.
Holiness doesn’t come from reading, studying, or working to obey scripture through so many “disciplines” taught us – that’s the Old Testament way, which is also common to all religions. Paul says in Colossians 2:6-23, “they certainly have an appearance of wisdom but absolutely are in fact of no value in actually curbing the indulgence of the flesh.” Only making intimate relational contact with God through Christ by the means/instrument of the Spirit will! But then “What is our part? What do we do?” That will be in the next BLOG.