Our own former attitude to life – the ‘old man’ referred to by Paul:
The one who has suffered in the flesh is released from sin to the end that [he] no longer lives the rest of his time in the flesh for the desires of men, but for the will of God. For sufficient of our past time of life [has been devoted] to doing the will of the nations, having gone on in immorality, lusts, excessive wine, drunken parties, binge-drinking and wicked idolatries.
Peter gives a list here to encapsulate a mind-set that Christians are to fight against.
Old habits die hard. A violin teacher said “Practice doesn’t make perfect, it make permanent.”
Our old ways of thinking and acting were vain attempts to ignore the true God and avoid our duty to him and others.
- Immorality – misuse of sex, lying, stealing, disobedient to parents etc.
- Lusts – wanting things (anything) obsessively
- Drunkenness — drug culture of any kind – attempt to block out conviction
- Making a god in our own image – like drug culture, only a ‘spiritual’ rather than a physical trip.
- Not necessarily a physical object
- Ezekiel talks of idols set up in our hearts, which is often expressed even within ‘Christian’ circles by a ‘Jesus’ unlike the real Jesus who is presented to us in the Bible.
Life had been all about ‘us’. These old ways of ours are still with us to some extent.
- Subdued — their real power broken by Jesus Christ, Yes!
- But these old ways have a residual power. They can still draw us off course for a time.
We must arm our minds against them. How?
Remember that Christ suffered in the flesh for us.
Jesus has fought our sin to the death & has won forgiveness & eternal life for us.
We too, are to fight our old attitudes to the death (Rom 6).
The other influence that can derail us from following Christ as we should comes from people who knew what we were like before we were Christians.
In this, they think it strange that you know longer run with them in the same unruly excesses, speaking evilly of you.
This pressure to go on with friends, family, work colleagues as if Jesus changes nothing can be difficult to resist:
- Old paths might still be ‘fresh’ for the Christian and the temptation strong
- Desire not to hurt feelings is and ought to be with us, but ought not deter us from living a new way
- Desire not to give the impression that we are ‘superior’ or the ‘judge’ (we are neither superior to anyone nor are we their judges)
- But, 1 john 1 – if and when we mess up, we still have Christ and his forgiveness.
Nevertheless, living as a Christian in these situations can be powerful, if our minds are armed:
- New way of life (not morose but happy) – we have been set free from sin and death
- Living out new attitudes in a humble, gentle way
- When we mess up in these things (appearing superior, for example) there is the opportunity to ask our family, friends, colleagues to forgive us.
- Opportunities to give a reason for hope that is in you – tell the good news.
This last point is important as the issues are serious.