Most Christians have a general sense of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’, of what qualities and behaviours are desired by God. In this chapter, Paul reminds us about the importance of ridding some of these things from our lives (v. 5-10). But what is interesting is the concept of the ‘old self’.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
In verse 7, he writes that “you used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived” and that by being saved, we can take off our “old self with its practices”. It is important to understand the concept of the ‘old self’.
As a Christian who has been going to church for most of his/her life, it is easy to dismiss this. ‘Old self’ does not simply refer to the person you were before coming to Christ, but can be better understood as the person you are when you do not live a godly life or when you do not live according to His will and desires. This is something that everyone will have experienced regardless of how long he/she has been a believer for: whether it is a season where one has strayed from God, or when having a premature or weak relationship with Him.
The ‘old self’ can also be seen as the self without God’s intervention and succumbs to earthly desires and desires of the flesh.
God made each of us unique – from the way we look, to our thoughts/dreams and our personalities; everyone’s walk is different as is their struggles and weaknesses. Whilst some people find it difficult to remain sexually pure (as in v. 5), others find it difficult to remain well-tempered in all situations (v. 8). It is imperative for one to understand his/her own weakness before being able to invite God to help him/her prevail in such struggles. It is easy to fall into the mentality when we sin that we think “oh, at least I haven’t done ________!”. God doesn’t want us to just check some of the boxes on the list and be pure in some ways. He wants us to follow him wholly and be free from all the things that He does not desire.
We must seek to “put on the new self” (v. 10). Paul tells us that this is achieved by being “renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator”.
This involves three things: (1) knowing WHO God, (2) knowing OUR identity in God and (3) understanding the relationship and role we play between ourselves and God.
This knowledge can be gained through studying the Word and by having a good devotional/prayer lifestyle. In doing so, not only do we gain the knowledge, but we also really learn how to apply it so that our lives can become “renewed”. Through this, we make our Salvation relevant in our lives, understand His desires and to truly learn how to place our weaknesses and vulnerabilities in His strength to overcome.