Vs. 20 "but ye have not so learned Christ."
After saying in verses 17 - 19 "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind. Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness."
Paul says, "But ye have not so learned Christ." The contrast is obvious, the force of which is to show the saved Ephesians have moved away from their former manner of life.
Their embracing of Christ brought about a radical change in their life; their old and beloved pagan practices could no longer be condoned, and for many of them it meant turning away from loved ones which were yet held in the grip of paganism. Amos, the prophet asked a long time ago, "can two walk together, except they be Agreed?" (3:3), this is more a stated fact, than it is a question.
Repentance calls for a change of mind, and those whom God grants repentance experience a change of mind about God, themselves, and sin. They turn from themselves unto God, in so doing they repudiate their previous manner of life, and cheerfully cultivate the new.
Vs. 21 "If so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus,"
The Ephesians saints had been taught truth, not worldly truth, but truth as it is in Jesus. Being taught by "Him," that is, the Holy Spirit had revealed Christ to the Ephesians by the teaching of Paul. In hearing Paul, they heard as it were, Christ, for Paul taught and Preached by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In the original Greek no article was used in vs. 21. Delete the definite article, and it reads, "As truth is in Jesus." The idea Being conveyed is, all spiritual truth is in Christ, and cannot be learned except by divine tutelage. The Ephesians had been Taught, had learned truth as it is in Christ, and was trusting in Christ, (Eph. 1:13).
A person may have a broad intellectual grasp of gospel truth, yet it will profit nothing, for it is not truth as it is in Christ, but as it is in the human mind. The ultimate mind unaided by the Spirit shall ever remain destitute of the truth as it is in Jesus.
God has indwelt His church with the Spirit of truth, and in view Paul says, the church is, "...the pillar and ground of the truth". 1st Tim.3:1
Vs. 22 "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts."
Truth as it is in Christ begets proper spiritual conduct by those who are blessed with receiving it. The Ephesians being blessed with truth as it is in Christ, had "put off… the old man," an in so doing their "former conversation" (manner of life) was left behind. In conveying this truth to the church of the Colossians Paul says, "lie not one to another", seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds" (Col. 3:9).
The phrase "old man" stands for all that we were in our pre-regenerated state, and the description which Paul gives of that state Eph. 2:1 – 8, 4:17 - 19 is one of total corruption and rebellion against God. The "old man" comes into this world with the sentence of death pronounced upon it (2nd Cor. 1:9). The nature of the old man is such that it delights in sin, and loves darkness rather than light. The old man will never get a reprieve from the sentence he is under, therefore he must die. The important question is, will he die in you or In Christ????
Paul, speaking of his old man, says, "I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and t life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:19). And he says to all the saved, "knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Rom. 6:6).
Either the "old man" is crucified in Christ, or suffers in itself the penalty of eternal death in the lake of fire. Did Christ take your "old man" to Calvary with him?
Vs, 23 "And be renewed in the Spirit of your mind".
Prior to putting off the old man the Ephesians walked in "the Vanity of their mind" (4:17). With the putting off of the old man a disposition is given to the mind, whereby one is enabled to serve the law of God with his mind (Rom. 7:25). This renewing of the mind results in a hunger for righteousness and a life that is being farther and farther removed from the old man.
In fact, the renewed mind produces a life that is diametrically opposed to the old man, or former matter of life. The subject not only quits loving a lie, but begins hating all that is contrary to truth as it is in Christ. He ceases to fight the truth, and tenaciously defends it. Paul himself is a good example of this truth, "He ....now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed" (Gal. 1:23).
The term "be renewed" is translated from a Greek word which means continuous action, which might be expressed theologically as progressive sanctification. It does not mean being sinless, but it does mean the believer will sin less and less. He that is saved by grace cannot be grace-less, but he can and does become more and more self-less.
The People, who believe and teach that sanctification means that we are sinless, would have a difficult time proving that the furnishing of the tabernacle (Ex. 40:10) was sinful before the Lord sanctified them.
Vs. 24 "And that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true Holiness."
The putting off of the old man in Vs. 22 speaks of the mortification or subduing of carnal appetite. This is accomplished by the Holy Spirit causing the believer to realize the shame that sin brings to the name of Christ. In Vs. 24 we have the positive counterpart of the negative in Vs. 22.
The old man is put off as one would take off a garment which he has discovered to be filthy. In some states upon the release of a prisoner from the penitentiary he is given a new suit, he changes his prison garments for the new suit, and leaves behind that which would identify him with his former life, (Jer. 52:33). The actions of putting of the old man and putting on the new are inseparably connected. To experience one is to experience the other.
And God says to Isaiah, "...thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged" Isa. 6:7.
The new man is created in the image of God, regaining that which was lost in the fall, "righteousness and true holiness." "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2nd Cor. 5:17). This is in part what Paul meant when he said to the Ephesian saints, God "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" Eph. 2:6. So, by faith we walk hand-in-hand with God, and deal righteously with one another, while showing the world that holiness becomes us.
"Holiness and righteousness," is the proper fruit of a renewed life, for without these fruits it is apparent that the old man is still enthroned in the life. "Holiness" spoken of here is not the kind that makes one proud and pharisaic, but the kind that makes one humble and grateful toward God.
Let us close by reminding ourselves that all human righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, and that righteousness which avails before God is wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. Also, that holiness which establishes one in the favor of God is based on Christ’s work and not our own (Col. 1:22, 1st Thes. 3:13.
Luke 1:74 - 75 "That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of out enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life."
This can only be done by one who has learned the truth as it is in Jesus.