In Ephesians 4 verse 1, Paul crosses the bridge between our identity and our behavior. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…” With that launch, the remainder of the book (chapters 4-6) describes how to live the Christian life.
Paul takes us from our identity (“our calling”) to our behavior (“our walk”). And he starts right off with a foundational picture of what that walk should look like, given who we are in Christ, when he continues in chapter 4, “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:2-3).
Our aspiration to humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace are not related to a self-help formula or a “how-to” recipe. No, the formula to success to live in a certain way is already inside us and the power to do it is inside us as well. It is located in the “inner man” (Eph 3:16). It is located in the “new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph 4:24).
This “likeness of God has been created” is just that; a brand new creation. When we dissect Paul’s reference to us as a “new creation” (I Cor 5:17), the Greek language is very clear that this is something brand new, never seen before. This is not a remodel, not an improvement on the old you. Your new righteous self is exactly that; someone brand new.
Do you see how this sets us free from the prison of our past? God is not out to clean up and improve the efforts of your dead spiritual self that you lived in before Christ. God is making something brand new in you. And so in the remainder of Ephesians chapters four, five, and six, the apostle spurs us on to “lay aside the old self” (Eph 4:22) and “live into your righteous self” (Eph 4:24).
Laying aside the old self and putting on the new self is the foundation for obeying every command that follows. Why? Because we only have the power to obey if we are putting on the new man. The old man cannot do it. Our flesh cannot do it. There is not enough willpower in your old man to accomplish the righteous life. The Christian life can only be lived by your new man; a new self that is really Christ living His life through you.
There are many descriptors the New Testament uses to say essentially the same thing about living this life. Christ living His life though us (Gal 2:20), walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), putting on Jesus Christ (Rom 13:14) are all various ways to describe our walk. When we do these things, obedience flows; and the joy of obedient living grows.
Now, is it too much of a stretch to say that this obedience flows naturally from our new self, an almost unstoppable force? You tell me. Because when we walk this way, obedience flows. Life-giving abundance flows. Service to others flows. Giving ourselves away flows. We feel the power of a river flowing just as Jesus promised in John chapter seven.
“On the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, … ‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” ‘ But this He spoke of the Spirit, who those who believed in Him were to receive” (Jn 7:37-39). May this promise come true by the Spirit in you today!