“. . . and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23,24).
IF IT’S IMPORTANT TO HATE SIN, IT’S EVEN MORE IMPORTANT TO LOVE RIGHTEOUSNESS. The love of God involves not only being afraid to disobey Him; it means being attracted by the prospect of pleasing Him and obeying His will. Living within our Father’s love must come to be, among other things, delightful.
In Ephesians 4, Paul discussed the two sides of godliness. Whereas we used to take delight in disobedience, “you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (vv.20,21). So we must “put off, concerning [our] former conduct, the old man” (v.22). But that is only half the battle. On the positive and more important side, we must “be renewed in the spirit of [our] mind” (v.23). We must make the choice to “put on the new man” (v.24).
If we’ve been satisfying our desires in unlawful ways for a long time, it will not be easy to learn a new set of delights. It can be done, though, and making the commitment to do so is the first step. If we want to be people who take deep delight in pleasing God, we must get past our what ifs, our maybes, and our yes buts and make an actual commitment to be renewed in our thinking.
Since the good that awaits us is so much more joyful than the counterfeit pleasures we’ve been accustomed to, our main regret will be that we didn’t delight in God sooner. We’ll scold ourselves for having been so foolish for so long. What were we thinking?
Granted, counterfeits can be quite convincing. The things we used to enjoy were really enjoyable, or we wouldn’t have spent so much time with them. But whatever pleasures may have come from satisfying ourselves unlawfully, the lawful satisfaction of those same desires is so much deeper and more genuine that the comparison defies description. The new delight we can have in God is the real thing. It’s what we were made for. It’s all we’ve ever dreamed of and then some. And the main thing about it is that it centers on God Himself. He, finally, is all we really desire.
“Show unto me, O Lord, your mercy, and delight my heart in it. Let me find you, whom I so longingly seek” (Jerome).