It was Paul who admonished us to put on the new man and put off the old man. How do we do this? How are we to know which is which? What is the difference between the old and the new man? One crucial question in this context is: How was the old man misused by Satan? Which mental images were imprinted on him by the deceiver in his fallen state? Those images are evidently something we carry with us into the new life. The delusions and the mistreatment make us think we are something we are not. In other words, we need to know how this old man was misused, mistreated and tormented by Satan before he came to Christ, and how this affects His new life.
The following passage is from Mark 9:
And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
We are that boy – all of us. Only Jesus could help us in our helplessness. Only he could save us from the maltreatment that was inflicted upon us. Even though we now are made whole, perfect, healed, with a new heart and in safe hands we still carry with us into our new life the lies, the delusions and the false mental images of ourselves which we received back then.
In our former muteness we couldn’t speak the truth. Rigidness overtook us so that the spontaneous effortless life evaded us. We were constantly worried about what others thought of us. The exterior was prominent in everything we did. When Jesus approached coming to our rescue an inner turmoil was whipped up in us and we erroneously believed He came to take from us our illusionary freedom. And we also learn from the account that Satan wanted to destroy us by throwing us into water and fire.
The fire is the fire of his own torment forever caught in the wheel of anguish. In this hell he and those who still are in a false union with him thirst with a thirst that is never quenched. Only the cross can save from this perpetual “me” orientation in which man is caught.
He tried to drown us in his illusionary water, that is, that the world can be saved and become a better place to be without the cross. Universalism, humanism and every religion on this planet whether it is called New Age or Buddhism try to throw this illusionary water on the flames of this world, but to no avail.
Our sense of being failures, that tormenting feeling of worthlessness and that crippling idea that we don’t deserve anything good were all a part of that old man who now is dead. But, we bring with us the lies and the mental images into our new life. This is one of the reasons why Paul talks about the renewal of the mind and that we have to put on the new man. We do this by faith by embracing the truth of who we are in Christ Jesus, and that to live is Christ. The new man recognizes that Christ is his life in a unity in which two are one. And by the Spirit’s mighty work in us we learn to abide in Him which is seeing things with His eyes through which nothing is impossible and where the outer world (appearances) loses its enchanting delusive power! The old man runs from the cross whereas the new man embraces it, because from it, that is taking part in Christ’s sufferings, new life pours forth.