If we as believers are going to be faithful to our calling and live with spiritual power, there are many negative and detrimental behaviors from which we have to walk away. Our thinking has to change, our attitudes and values need to conform to the person and message of Christ, and our behaviors cannot follow normal human patterns. Behold, all things must become new. What is called for is not mere behavioral modification, but rather metamorphosis.
It’s shocking to think that a Christian after conversion could continue to live in the futility of his or her thinking, in darkened understanding and in self-indulgence. It seems almost scandalous to accuse Christians of being deceitful, lustful, and impure. What kind of a church is this that Paul has to tell them they need to stop lying, to be done with their angry outbursts, stop with the vulgar talk, and “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice”? We read these things and wonder if these people are even believers.
The tenor of the passage is that we are slaves to these sins no longer, that we should repent of them and walk away from them. Christ gives us a completely new way of thinking on a different plane and in a different reality. We need to train ourselves to think differently, to hold a different perspective on life, to subject our desires to the renewal of new creation, to learn different attitudes, and therefore to live in a completely different sphere of earthly existence, no longer conforming to anything human, but instead living in a new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
This training involves learning how to put off all or our old patterns of thinking and living. Forget everything you know, or think you know, and start over from a new database. The conditioning also calls for becoming experts in the new self modeled after the personal of Christ and the attributes of God (4.24, 32). It calls for not only a foundation of theological truths, but also an absorption of Scripture so that we learn how God wants us to think so that come to know Him and no longer think according to the patterns of this world (Rom. 12.2). We’re not human any more; we are people of God.