Old Self New Self 

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The Bible talks about the daily discipline of putting off our "old self" and putting on our "new self" in Christ.  This is a skill that is critical to maintaining our freedom from sin.  It is something that we'll be perfecting for the rest of our earthly lives.  Paul wrote:

22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV

The old self must be put off, because it is being corrupted by sinful desires and will otherwise lead us back into sin.  Simultaneously, we must put on the new self and be "made new in the attitude" of our minds.  Note that it is our responsibility to put off the old and put on the new, while God renews us in the attitude our minds. 

How to put off the old self

Putting off the old self is synonymous with putting it to death.  The old self is the part of us that is continually trying to pull us back into sinful habits and thought patterns (Romans 6:11-14).  The lure of the old self can be powerful, especially when our memories remind us of the pleasures of past sin.  Here are some suggestions on how to put off the old self:

  • Ask for help:  Too often people try to resist temptations by sheer will-power.  As Christians, we have the source of ultimate power and assistance available to us: Jesus.  He knows the temptations we face (Hebrews 2:18) and will help us resist those temptations (Hebrews 4:15-16).   Each day we can pray, "Dear Jesus, please help me put off the old self  and put on the new self today.  Please help me overcome any temptations that come my way. Thank you, Jesus. Amen."
  • Reckon yourself with Jesus:  Reckoning with Jesus is basically aligning ourselves with him and his condition: dead to sin and alive to God.  Paul wrote, "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:11 NKJV).  A way to reckon with Jesus is to recite key Bible verses about our condition.  For example, using Romans 6:11 we can declare, "I am dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus my Lord. "  Here are some other verses we can declare:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  Romans 8:1-2 NKJV

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:4 NKJV

  • Stop letting sin dictate your actions:  This is where we follow-up our faith with action.  Since we believe ourselves dead to sin, we must no longer respond to its temptations.  The two primary areas that we can focus on are our eyes and thoughts.  For example, if we're watching a television show that we know contains tempting material, we can choose to switch channels or simply turn the TV off.  Or, if a memory of a past sexual encounter comes to mind, we can shift our thoughts to another topic instead of fantasizing over the memory.  We'll further discuss eye and thought discipline later in this study.

Another aspect of this found in the ways that we have been making provisions to gratify lust.  Paul wrote, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:14 NKJV).  Some examples of making provision for lust are: hiding a favorite porn magazine or image file, keeping an adult video store membership card, going to places where we know we'll be tempted, flirting on the job or with our neighbors, keeping unfiltered internet access or keeping a favorite list of porn sites on the computer.  Leaving such unlocked doors for the enemy will likely lead us back into bondage at some point.  The key is to remove the obvious things that could tempt us to fall back in sin.  Solomon wrote, "A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless" (Proverbs 14:16 NASB). 

Exercise:  Take a moment to identify the ways that you've been making provision for lust in your life.  Next, consider what actions you can take to eliminate each provision.  You can ask God to help you in doing this:  "Dear Lord, Please reveal the ways I've been making provision for lust in my life and show me how to eliminate each item. Thank you, Father. Amen."   Feel free to use the below table to record your findings:

How I've made provision for lust What I can do to stop making this provision
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
  • Identify triggers and make alternate plans:  Sex addiction often follows a pattern that revolves around certain triggers that lead a person to act out.  As you consider the above list, ask God to help you recognize any triggers that were involved.  Some examples of triggers are rejection, failure, stress, anger, resentment, trauma and unpleasant memories.   As we consider the triggers we commonly face, we can then consider how to "run to Jesus" in those situations instead of acting out sexually.   For example, when we feel the pain of rejection, we can recite scriptures that reassure us of God's love for us or recall the rejection that Jesus endured on the cross for us.  Here again, we can ask God for wisdom on the actions to take: "Dear Lord, please help me discover the triggers that have led me to act out.  Please show me what I can do to run to you and not respond by acting out.  Thank you, Father.  Amen."  Feel free to use the below table to record your findings.
Triggers How I can run to Jesus when this happens
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 

How to put on the new self

Our new self is the person that God created us to be.  This new self is "created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24 NIV).  God gives us the ability through the Holy Spirit to live in the reality of the new self (Romans 8:11).  There are some basic actions we can take to put on the new self each day:

  • Respond to the Spirit's impulses:  Just as our sinful desires led us in living for sin, the Holy Spirit will lead us in living for God.  The Spirit does this in several ways, including convicting us of sin and guiding us in making right choices.  He often speaks to people in a "still, small voice," but may use other means as well (scripture, audible voice, an "inner prompting," circumstances, prophecy, etc.).  Recognizing God's voice is a skill that will come with practice.  Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27 NKJV).   As a general guideline, God will not tell us to do something that is contrary to his commandments in the scriptures. 

When God speaks to us (and we know it is him), it is vital to heed what he tells us, no matter how insignificant the instructions may seem.  Sometimes God uses seemingly mundane situations to test our willingness to obey him.  A friend of mine was getting discouraged because he hadn't heard from God in a long time.   One day as he was driving down the highway at lunch time, he craved a McDonald's hamburger, but couldn't remember the exit number of the restaurant.  "Lord, please help me remember where the McDonald's is," he prayed.  Very plainly the Spirit said to him, "Take this exit, now!"  Though he didn't think that was the right exit, he obeyed and discovered that it was the right exit after all.  That little incident helped strengthen my friend's faith that God was still with him and cared for him.

  • Study the Word:  God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).  We learn (i.e. increase knowledge) about God and his promises by studying the Bible.  His promises are the foundational truths that we can stand on in faith.  They enable us to escape the corruption of sin and live as new persons (2 Peter 1:4; John 8:31-32). 

There are many possible ways to study the Bible, but in general it is best to develop a daily habit of Bible study, including scripture memory work.  There is no shortcut to learning the scriptures, but the time and effort you put in will strengthen your faith and bolster your walk with Christ.  I'll offer suggestions on this in the next section (Quiet Times).

  • Connect with God through prayer:  Prayer is our communication link with God, who is available to us 24/7.  The Bible encourages us to practice continuous prayer.  Paul wrote, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Jesus spent a good bit of his time in prayer as he faced the various challenges of ministry and living a sinless life.  If it was important for Jesus to pray, how much more so is it for us to pray! 
  • Plug in to a good church:  God wants us to be in regular contact with other Christians so that the body of Christ is functioning with all its parts.  Paul described this as being "knit together in love" (Colossians 1:2 NKJV).  Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV says, "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."  Plugging in to a good church provides key benefits that will help us in our walk with Christ, including prayer support, teaching in the Word, encouragement in our faith, development of our spiritual gifts, opportunities to serve, deliverance ministry, mentoring, corporate worship, fellowship and spiritual protection/covering.   (more info on finding a good church)
     
  • Serve others in love:   We want to get in the habit of using our freedom to serve others (instead of ourselves) in love as God directs.  Paul wrote in Galatians 5:13, "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."  If we use our freedom to serve others in love, we'll have far less time to get back into our old sin habits.  For example, if we stop spending our evenings surfing for porn on the internet, we'll now have some time freed up.  We can use that time to help others in some way, such as: helping your children with their homework, spending time with your spouse, calling a friend to encourage them or volunteering at the homeless shelter.  Please take a moment to ask God to give you some ideas of how you might serve others in love. 
Ideas on how I can serve others in love
 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Practice quick repentance: The devil uses guilt and shame to keep people from immediately returning to God following a stumble in sin. As we learn to control our body and discipline our mind, it's probable that there will be some failures along the way.  If this happens, we need not wallow in shame, but repent, get back on our feet and keep walking on the path of purity.  Our Master paid for our sins and extends grace and mercy to us.  (see Receive Forgiveness)

Before proceeding to the next page of the study, please take a moment to review your answers to the questions on this page.  Ask God to help you make the needed changes that will help you put off the old self and put on the new self daily. 

Next Page: Quiet Times

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