The characteristics of the New Man are the exact opposite of those of the Old Man: intellectual ductility, spiritual durability, and moral decency.
The Old Man is indeed corrupt, and, as we said in our last chapter, a characteristic of the Old Man is “spiritual debility” (weakness, feebleness). But, as Ephesians 4:22 declares, it is this is, as well as our former conversation (Old English for “previous behavior”), that we put off at salvation because it is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. As one commentator observes, the tense of the verb for which is corrupt (Present or Passive Participle) yields the idea of “corrupting himself,” that man is “working steadily at his own ruin and destruction.” Of course, most people do not deliberately desire to destroy themselves; people don’t, for example, step in front of a moving train. But while they do not do this consciously, they are doing it nonetheless.
It is for that reason that we are to put off any resemblance to the Old Man. The expression put off (apotithēmi) is taken from the picture of taking off a garment and is in the Aorist Tense showing a once-for-all putting off of the Old Man. As we would take off old worthless clothes and never use them again, we take off the Old Man. Verses 23 and 24a go a step further to show that when we take off the old, we put on the new. The Old Man is corrupt, worn out, and moth-eaten, but the New Man is unique, whole, and complete. We are then to be renewed in the spirit of [our] mind.
The word renewed is ananeoō. The word new in this passage is kainos, which refers to something new in quality, not neos, new in time. Here, however, ananeoō, which appears only here in the New Testament, is a form of neos, so the idea is “to make new in time again,” that is, as commentator and Greek scholar John Eadie puts it, “restoration to some previous state—renovation.” Further, the verb is a Present Participle and should be translated “being constantly renewed.” The same truth is found in Romans 12:2; we are to be “[continually] transformed by the [continuous] renewing of the mind.” The words in the spirit [i.e., attitude] of your mind remind us that the first two characteristics of the Old Man, as we saw in our last study, both involved the mind. The same is true of the New Man. What gives us spiritual durability? What gives us spiritual strength? A CONSTANT RENEWING OF THE ATTITUDES OF THE MIND.
As theologian and commentator Charles Hodge puts it: “The spirit of your mind, therefore, is its interior life—which the mind, heart, and soul are ways of showing. Therefore, that which needs to be renewed is not merely outward habits or ways of life, not merely transient tempers or dispositions, but the interior principle of life, which lies behind everything that is outward, phenomenal, or transient.”
It cannot be emphasized enough that God wants our minds. Our minds are the most important part of us, for the mind controls everything else. Tragically, the number of Christians that live in the emotions is growing exponentially. Much of Christianity today appeals to the emotions, “felt needs,” and, frankly, the flesh. How then is the mind renewed? It can only be renewed by one thing—a constant involvement with the Word of God.