|Volume 24 Number 2 February 2022
My Old Man
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
My old man was something else! Sometimes he lied, had a bad attitude or disposition, let his temper flare, didn’t always use nice words and was most difficult to be around. Then, though, I was taught the Gospel of Jesus, and as I grew in the faith, my old man became less noticeable. Please understand it wasn’t that he completely disappeared, but he would not rear his ugly head quite as often as he once did. Although many do not like to talk about it, the truth is that every one of us had a less than desirable old man. In fact, Paul pulled no literary punches about the old man that everyone of us used to be. “…There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10 NKJV). A little later, the same inspired penman reminded us of what happened to that rascal of an old man we used to be. “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6). There are some interesting observations I have noticed about my old man to which you may be able to relate.
My old man must be crucified daily. One of the most frustrating things I have observed about my old man is that there is a daily struggle for who is in control. I sometimes feel as though my old man is under my control, only to see the situation quickly reverse and I am brought under his control. Truth be told, sometimes, “…with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). Therefore, the Lord’s words through the pen of Luke are so important. “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me’” (Luke 9:23). Our daily transformation comes as a result of ‘renewing our minds’ (Romans 12:1-2). Crucifying my old man is a daily task, indeed!
My old man must be crucified deliberately. Crucifying our old man does not happen by accident! There must be a deliberate, conscious effort each day to become less physical and more spiritual. The Psalmist wrote of the deliberate effort it takes to live godly. “I have chosen the way of truth…” (Psalm 119:30). Putting our old man to death is a choice we must make, deliberately. Humans are prone to erroneously conclude that simply being in the church is all the deliberate effort needed to crucify the old man. However, as someone so wisely put it, “Sitting in the church house will no more make one a Christian, than sitting in a hen house will make one a chicken.” Being added to the church is only the beginning of my transformation. A deliberate yielding to God’s will is required. “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13). We do not yield to God by accident. My old man must be crucified deliberately!
My old man must be crucified divinely. I have tried and tried but to no avail to crucify my old man! I sometimes still, even to this day, think I am strong enough on my own. The facts are that without Divine help, I cannot put to death my old man! Paul gave the glory to God for crucifying the old man. “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17). My truth, my way, and my life are inadequate to save me and make me acceptable to God. That is exactly why Jesus was so clear when He said that He was the only way, the only truth and the only life (John 14:6). I am simply not good enough, spiritual enough, wise enough or adequate enough on my own to crucify the old man. You see, I was without strength when Christ rescued me (Romans 5:6). I am justified, not by my goodness, but by His blood (Romans 5:9). I am saved, not by merit, but by His life (Romans 5:10). Amazingly, because of the Divine help I have received, I can actually become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Any victory, any accomplishment spiritually, I owe to Divinity!
I sometimes wish my old man were different. I often regret that I have a past and even still sometimes resurrect the old man. Yet, the truth is that if my old man were not so disgraceful there would be no need for a Savior. So, instead of pining the past, may we praise the Potentate, because Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, yes even me (1 Timothy 6:15). To borrow the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Ah, for a man to arise in me, That the man I am, may cease to be”!
The song found in our songbooks, “I Want to Be Ready,“ begins with the line of this article.
You may have your worldly pleasures
Your silver and your gold,
You may pile up all the riches
That this old world can hold;
But I’d rather have my Savior
And with Him firmly stand
For I want to be ready to meet Him
In the glory land
I agree completely with the sentiment of the song, one found often in Scripture. Truly, man’s focus ought to be on the spiritual things and eternity rather than on the things of this world. This sentiment is reinforced in the moral teaching of Scripture. “‘Stolen water is sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he does not know that the dead are there, That her guests are in the depths of hell” (Proverbs 9:17-18).
Amos prophesied to the Israelites in his day to warn them about the waywardness of the rich, prosperous, lazy and gluttonous nation they had become.
Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near; Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall; Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; Who drink wine from bowls, And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore, they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, And those who recline at banquets shall be removed. The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself, The LORD God of hosts says: “I abhor the pride of Jacob, And hate his palaces; Therefore I will deliver up the city And all that is in it.” (Amos 6:3-8)
God created this world for humans to enjoy, for us to find pleasure in it. The sunshine declares the glory of God, and we ought to rejoice with all creation when we see it each morning. However, we should never turn the creation into the creator and honor the things of this world, let alone ourselves, above their Maker (Romans 1:18-22).
[Editor’s Note: The difference in life’s journey contrasts between the narrow and broad ways (Matthew 7:13-14), laying up treasures on earth or in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21) and a matter of priorities – seeking first the kingdom of God or not (Matthew 6:33-34). There is a crisis of insufficient conviction and conversion – even among members of the churches of Christ. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]