That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 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 4:22-24).
Putting off and putting on are terms Paul used to describe the change in a believer’s life after salvation because of mind renewal. Before salvation, we’ve trained our bodies to yield to certain appetites, we’ve trained our minds to think in certain ways, and we’ve trained our emotions to act and react certain ways.
Stopping these learned behaviors is called putting off the old man with his deeds. The sin nature that produced appetites, thoughts and emotional responses has been removed by the new birth! We have become new creatures in Christ, and our daily lifestyle must be retrained to yield to this new person that we’ve become inside.
Developing new habits that reflect the new person that we’ve become within is called putting on the new man.
This process occurs in us as we feed on the word and purpose to live a life of obedience to God. A key to putting off and putting on is in understanding the fundamentals of how behavior changes. We can’t stop a habit by constantly refusing to act it out. That keeps the attention on the habit.
Habits change by being replaced. When we make the decision to renew our minds with the Word, we decide to act on what we read and meditate on in scripture. For instance you read in Ephesians 4:29 that you are to refuse to allow yourself to speak any hurtful words to or about others. You meditate and think on this scripture over and over again for a period of time. And you may find that you still slip up and say things that shouldn’t be said and you repent. Just keep that process up, and the habit of hurtful speech will be broken and replaced by a habit of blessing with your words.
At first, it’s hit and miss. You may take a step forward and then a step backward. The key is persistence. Just keep on meditating in the word, and acting on it by repenting when you miss it with your words, and soon you’ll be catching yourself just before you begin the tirade of negative speech.
Putting off the old man and putting on the new man is a process that continues throughout our lives as we grow in Christ. His plan is that by the time He comes for us, we act just like Him in our thoughts, our words, and in our responses to others!