"This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:23
When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we became all new creations in Him. There are verses scattered all over the New Testament about how we become new when we accept Him, and yet it seems like there are far too many Christians being deceived. The great deceiver himself wants us to think that our old self is always there, poised to make a comeback. He wants us to think that there is always a chance for us to mess up and revert back to our old ways and our old lives, to be captive of the sins of the past.
But the truth is, our old selves are buried and gone! And even better than that, God forgives us of ALL those past sins and forgets them- it's as if they never happened. And yet we remember them, and they come back every once in a while to taunt us and tease us and try to get us to slip up. Why? Because the devil tripped us up once with those bad behaviors, and since he is not capable of original thinking, he thinks that the old things will work again. So he tries again. He sets that temptation right in front of us and whispers sweet things to us about them. And do you know what we can say to him to make him go away and take that temptation with him? We can tell him to go away, that our minds have been renewed, and we are a new creation in Christ Jesus.
I like verse 23 that says that we should be renewed in the spirit of our mind. That means that not just our bad actions of the past should be gone, but also our ways of thinking. Most temptations begin in the mind-they begin with a thought, and that thought festers and eventually becomes action. Instead of thinking about things that may make us feel good for a time or thinking about those things that are not becoming of a child of Christ, we can think on Him. Oh, the devil will try to creep into our thoughts as well, there's no doubt about that. But we can banish him with simple scripture spoken out loud. Philippians 4:8 is the ideal verse in these situations.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8
A temptation does not have to turn into a thing that reminds us of the old man that we've laid aside. A temptation can be just that, a thought or an idea that we can defeat with a simple utterance of God's Word. And when we reach into our mind and bring out the precious words that God gave us, we give that new man purpose and confidence. We are winners and we are conquerors! We are what the new man was designed to be! God gave us the tools we need to live as that new man- not just in theory, but in truth and actuality. We don't need to buy into that garbage that because we are men and women, we have to mess up every once in a while. We need to correct that thinking, and hold our heads high as sons and daughters of the Most High God and use the very tools that He gave us to defeat the enemy.
Think of it this way. In medieval times, warriors were equipped with a sword and shield to use to battle the enemy. A new warrior would spend time learning how to use that sword, and learning how to use that shield properly to deflect a blow from the enemy. He would train day in and day out, and then when the moment arose for a battle, he would be prepared and would use that sword and shield to their fullest potential.
We are that warrior.
"In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:16-17
The world has confused us with lies, but those times of lies are over. A warrior back then would not have simply held that shield and that sword and let the enemy come at him without defending himself, and that's exactly what's happening today with the thoughts that we should expect to mess up. We need to open our eyes and see the truth of the situation. The truth is that we have a shield all ready to deflect the poison the enemy would fling at us. And we have the ultimate sword that we can use to defeat him- the scripture and the God-breathed words found within our Bibles. Like that warrior in old times though, we need to spend time learning to use our sword and our shield. We need to spend time in our Bibles, reading the words God has for us, and memorizing them, taking them in to ready them for action. Think of every verse you memorize as another arrow to set in your quiver. Each and every verse can be brought out at the moment of need to fire off at the enemy and send him on his way.
So not only did God make us a new man when we accepted His son as our Lord and Savior, but He also made us warriors- and capable warriors at that. He's a good Father, and gave us the tools we need before we even knew we needed them. And we can be of a renewed mind, and see the lies that the devil tries to confuse us with and defeat them with the Words from God. Temptation can be a thing of the past that we can laugh at send away, we don't have to accept it as a part of life. We were designed to be righteous beings- righteous just as our older brother Jesus was before us.
"Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ " Matthew 4:10
Worship God and serve Him only. We can do that, if only we will open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds and see the truth for what it is. The truth that we can defeat the enemy with just a word. Jesus showed us exactly how in Matthew, chapter 4, it's time for us to follow His perfect example.