Ephesians 4:22-24 gives us three guides to help our students live a transformed life.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Put off the old self… This takes work. This is not something that passively happens as we learn more about the Lord. We are given specific instruction to take off the old self. Our students need help recognizing what the old self is. Scripture has clear lists of sins, but for some issues that appear more complex there are three questions I like to ask:
- Does this action bring God glory or take away from His glory?
- Does it show that my joy is in the Lord or in the world?
- Am I holding on to this one thing too tightly as I would an idol?
Walking through these questions with them can help them gain a heart of wisdom in engaging the culture. We don’t have to be legalists, but we do have to be holy.
Be made new in the attitude of the mind… A transformed life flows out of a transformed mind and the only way our minds are transformed is through the Word of God. Our love for the Word will be infectious to our students. We must faithfully put it before them in our messages, in our Bible studies, when we sit and when we rise, when they are in our homes, when we walk with them through their life. The last college pastor I worked with was so passionate about Acts 17 that I have parts of it memorized just from talking about it so much.
Unfortunately, our patterns of thinking have been tainted by the Fall, so much of Christianity is training our minds to think rightly. We must train our students to recognize lies and to reinforce truth. Whenever we hear a lie, don’t let it go unchecked, confront it dead on with truth. Speaking the truth is never going to be popular. We must learn to place our student’s holiness above our own reputations with them.
Put on the new self… Spiritual disciplines such as, prayer, fasting, meditating on the Word, fellowship, having a quiet time are all good things that will serve to stir our affections, engage our minds and motivate our wills to know God. Putting on the new self, however, is not merely a set of spiritual disciplines; it is taking on the very character of Christ. This task is impossible without being filled with the Spirit. The disciplines void of the Spirit are just religion. The disciplines filled with the Spirit are worship. We can serve our students best by worshipping the Lord and leading them to do that same. By faithfully displaying the new self, we are giving a taste of the great promise that one day He will make all things new. Our new selves proclaim the hope of the Gospel every day to a lost world.
Often we as Christians measure our holiness by the standards set in the Christian community we live in. If the group I spend most of my time with strives for purity of speech, then I will, but if they are a little loose in their word choice, I will be. Our standard should always be Christ, not the company we keep. Many times however, our students will fall prey to this line of thinking and hinder themselves from being all that they could be in Jesus. In the world and even amongst other Christians, they could be persecuted for their desire for holiness. As church and ministry leaders, we must help our students keep their eyes on the author and perfecter of their faith, pushing them toward what is ahead and assisting them to throw off every hindrance in pursuit of a life transformed in Christ.
Thanks to our guest blogger Erin Shaw. She is currently the Instructor of Women’s Ministry at Cedarville. Erin was previously on church staff at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, FL.