Ephesians 4:21-24(NLT) instructs, “21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” This extraordinarily impactful passage points out two distinct dispensations and two distinct natures that are revealed to us in God’s Word. The two dispensations are the Law Administration and the Grace Administration. The two natures are the sinful or old nature which came from satan, and the new nature which Jesus Christ created. Those of us living after the resurrection of Christ are overwhelmingly blessed to be living in the Grace Administration, and we don’t have a choice about it, but where the two natures are concerned, it’s a little different. As born-again believers, we have both the old nature and the new nature, and we decide whether we’ll put on our new nature or slip back to our old sinful nature. But we should know that putting on our new nature created in Christ Jesus is the very best possible decision we can make.
Adam’s and Eve’s sin ushered in the Law administration. This is the dispensation where God revealed the Ten Commandments to help guide His people so they could remain blessed and covered by His provision and safety. God’s laws did something else that was pretty amazing. His laws revealed His nature. The laws put His brand of righteousness on full blast so that we would not only know more about His nature, but we could also recognize His goal for us. His goal for His children is to imitate His nature. Ephesians 5:1 tells us that we are to be imitators of God.
The problem with those living in Old Testament times was that sin was in their bodies. Sin was their nature and they just kept on sinning. Because of this, continual sacrifices needed to be offered to cover their sins so they could have a relationship with God, but it wasn’t the kind of relationship He wanted. Ephesians 4:22 says that the sinful nature corrupted the people and they craved sin, but Jesus Christ changed this for us. Because of his accomplishment on the cross, he created a new nature that is like God’s nature, and this nature is righteous and holy. This new nature that Christ created for us operates through God’s love. This means that God will not force us to put it on; it’s our choice.
The Spirit Renews
Ephesians 4:23 tells us to let the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes. You and I are to let the Spirit be at work in our minds and hearts. He helps us put on the thoughts and attitudes of Christ. As we release wrong thinking and behaviors, he helps us walk in our new nature and grow up in Christ. God commands us to read and study His Word and to spend time with Him in prayer. These practices permit the Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our understanding when it comes to God’s truth. He is not going to go inside our minds and hearts and immediately start throwing all the bad stuff out and putting the good stuff in. It’s a process. Once we make the effort to comprehend the truth, internally the Spirit gives us pathways to new thoughts and attitudes that are aligned with Christ. This is how we are transformed inside out, and it’s how we continue to spiritually grow as we walk in, with, and by the Spirit more and more each day.
We are new creations in Christ! Through him, we have the power to say ‘NO’ to our old sinful nature. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:6(NLT), “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.” Someone asked me, “Why is sin so harmful.” Well, sin doesn’t come from God, it comes from satan. It is rebellion against God’s Word and Will, and it takes us away from our spiritual relationship with Him and binds us to a slave relationship with satan through our flesh. Sin makes us slaves of darkness. Jesus Christ rescued us from darkness, and as children with a new nature like God’s, we should never go back to the slavery we were in.
God tells us in Galatians 5:1(MSG), “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Listen, choosing to deny the flesh of what it wants is arguably one of the most challenging decisions any single Christian can make, but it’s a requirement if we want to be pleasing to God. And it is a requirement if we want to enjoy all that God has for us. All God’s blessings are contained in our new nature in Christ Jesus. If we are continually reaching back to those self-sabotaging patterns of the old nature, we’re not growing spiritually mature in Christ. Instead, we are injuring our souls, and harming our relationship with God. Heavenly Father demands that we have faith in His promises. If we remain obedient to His Word, He is faithful to reward us.
Proverbs 13:12(NLT) tells us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.” Our hopes and dreams should be held in our hearts until the Lord brings them into fruition. Our faith keeps them incubated as we continue to do what the Lord requires. Hope is deferred when we keep hoping something will happen and it doesn’t. Is there anything more disappointing than this? It is indeed heartbreaking to raise our expectations about something, and it never materializes. Heavenly Father is not keeping it a secret that sometimes people hope for things that do not come to pass. He warns us about this so that we will avoid such an outcome. The way to avoid it is to abide by the Father’s Will and Word and do what He commands.
When your hopes become your dreams regarding the person that you’re interested in, you want this individual to grow to love you and want to establish a lasting commitment. Relationships require a lot from us, and you may be willing to make this big investment, but the other person may not be. Our old nature tells us that we’re in jeopardy of losing out and that this person holds the key to our hopes and dreams. Because of this, many of us give over ourselves to the person even more. God’s Word tells us to give ourselves over completely to Him through our new nature created in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the unfailing anchor of our hopes and dreams and trusting in Him is the way to make them a reality.
God will never give up on His plan to see us live through the example of Christ. Heavenly Father knows our weaknesses and shortcomings. He knows where we need to be fortified so that we make good, committed spouses who will always put Christ at the head of our marriages. If we don’t do it in other relationships, chances are that we probably won’t do it when we’re married. Now is the time to demonstrate our commitment to Godliness. Whether we’re in a relationship or outside of one, God wants us to be strong and courageous women in Christ. If we let Him take the lead and guide us on the path He has set for us, our hopes and dreams will not be deferred because we will live them every day of our lives.■
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
“A Hope That Is Not Deferred”, written for findchristianman.wordpress.com. Copyright©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.