Those who are truly tired of their own sin and have a genuine desire to enter a new life, are led to repentance by God’s goodness. (Romans 2:4) “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord …” Acts 3:19. Being converted1 is a wholehearted decision one makes to repent from former sins and to turn away from the world – from living in the passing pleasures of sin, to living for God a hundred percent; not a bit of both. By God’s mercy, we receive forgiveness for our sins by unmerited grace, and the foundation for a new life is now laid. (Acts 3:19; Acts 26:18)
Crucifying the “old man” (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:17-24)
To come to a new life, we have to put off the “old man2” – our old life. (Ephesians 2:2-3, Ephesians 4:22-24) Our “old man” is our mindset before conversion, where we allowed sin to rule in our lives, where we had not made a conscious decision to resist sin but instead gave in to temptation. It is clear that there is no way we can stop sinning if our “old man” continues to be active in our lives. Then we will need forgiveness for the same sins we commit day by day. To believe that we can get victory over sin without putting off the “old man” is deception. Then it will just be a battle to keep up a good outward appearance. If we want spiritual progress after we have been converted, then we have to put off, or crucify, our “old man.” (Romans 6:6)
Crucifying the “old man” is an act of faith, a decision we make to put off our old mindset which willingly gave in to sin, and to put on the “new man3” – a new mindset and determination to resist sin and to live a crucified life with Him. (Ephesians 4:17-24) We reckon ourselves to be dead to sin – we no longer serve sin consciously, and to be alive to God and His workings – our bodies are used instead to serve Him in obedience. (Romans 6:11-14) We can make this decisive commitment to put off our “old man” and to begin a new life regardless of where we are – it is a decision we make by faith!
Having put off the old man does not mean that we do not have sin in the flesh4 and that we are no longer tempted by being drawn and enticed by our own desires. (James 1:14-15) It means, however, that we do not live according to them. This is the new mind3. Our new mind no longer serves sin, but instead declares a resounding “No!” when we are tempted. This is a powerful decision of faith, which takes place in our mind.
Crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24)
With this new mind, our flesh with its passions and desires can be crucified with Christ. (Galatians 5:24) The flesh is the part of our body of sin, of which we are conscious. Naturally, we cannot crucify what we have not recognized as sin up to this point. But as soon as we receive light that something is sin, we have to crucify it – put it to death. (Colossians 3:5) When these lusts and desires arise from our flesh, they must be crucified – never allowed into our hearts and minds – and suffered out until they die. This incurs suffering in our flesh, because our own sinful lusts and desires that dwell there are not being satisfied. These lusts eventually die when they are continually denied to the point of death.
Our mind, our consciousness, which before was in wicked works has become subject to God’s will by faith. We are to reckon ourselves as dead indeed to sin, but alive to God. (Romans 6:11) When a person continues to live in conscious sin, it is because the old man is still alive, and they don’t have the mind to resist sin – they are a slave of sin. Therefore, putting off the old man opens the possibility of a life in total victory over conscious sin as far as we have light – our bodies are no more slaves of sin. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” Romans 8:12. The evil inclinations in our flesh shall no longer rule over us.
This cross is for all of us who have sinned and have sinful habits, but who have repented and have decided to begin a new life.
- Conversion/To be converted: To be converted is to make a decision to turn away from sin and darkness, from the power of the devil to the living God. We repent from our former sins, cast off our old life – a life which enjoyed living in the passing pleasures of sin, and lay hold of a new mind – a mindset that is determined to resist sin (say “No!” in temptation). It is also important, after conversion, not to return to the environment which had a negative influence on one before conversion, otherwise things can go badly again. (Acts 3:19, Acts 26:18, 1 Peter 2:1-2)
- The “old man”: Our “old man” is our mindset where we have not made a conscious decision to resist sin. With this mindset, when we are tempted to sin, we consciously agree to these temptations in our mind, allowing these desires to manifest into sinful thoughts, words and deeds. (Romans 6:1-6, Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 3:9-10)
- The “new man” / “new mind”: The “new man” is the new mindset, the new determination we have put on after putting off the “old man.” It is a decision to fight against sin, to say “No!” every time we are tempted to sin, to live in righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
- Sin in the flesh: The inclination to sin in human nature that all people have inherited since the Fall. This means that as a human being we are naturally tempted by sinful desires and thoughts. This is also often referred to as “indwelling sin.”