Disposing of the Old
The preaching of the Word of God is both negative and positive. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for:
Doctrine: That’s what’s right.
Reproof: That’s what’s wrong.
Correction: That’s how to get right.
Instruction in righteousness: That’s how to stay right.
Thus, when we “preach the Word” both right and wrong are going to be revealed. The truth is most people already know when things are wrong in their lives. God’s Word has been “. . . written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness. . . ” (Romans 2:15). The preaching of God’s Word exposes the error in people’s lives and causes them to change their mind about that sin and repent. Often, that is what the invitation is all about – confessing sin and getting right with God.
However, we must go a step further, because the Bible does. If all we do is empty our life of sin, we leave a void for the devil to fill with something else.
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45)
Replacing the Old
The “old” must be replaced with “new” or it will be replaced by worse “old.” Notice carefully this principle in Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4:20-32:
But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let no the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
“Put off” and “Put on.” As Paul deals with certain sins, he not only instructs the believers to put them off, but then specifically states what should be put there in it’s place. For Christian growth and maturity to take place “dehabitation”—that is, breaking the old habits of sin, and “rehabitation”—that is, establishing the new patterns of thinking and living, must occur.
Someone has said: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, first of all we are not talking about “dogs.” we are talking about “people.” Secondly, we are not talking about “tricks,” we are talking about “holy living by the grace of God.” Either we believe the Bible or we don’t! God is in the business of “changing lives.” He changes us at conversion and makes us a brand new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17), and then changes us continually through the process of sanctification (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The Bible is filled with “instead ofs.” For example in James 5:12 it says: “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” What about Psalm 1:1-2? “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” The wrong sin—the wrong habit, being replaced by the right action—the right habit!
Listen to James: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:7-10) Or how about Ephesians 5:18? “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit;”
Click here to read part two of this article.