The Third Race Reality: The joyful reality in the life of the genuinely transformed Christian

"Who am I? What am I here for? Where am I going? What should I do?" These are the questions that shape our personality and character. The unbelieving mind is always answering these questions with selfish, sinful, and worldly thinking. This old self is what we are able to lay aside once we are saved. Christ completely transforms us so we can mirror His character and tell others how he changed our lives.


A born-again Christian lives antithetically to anything the world and its old lifestyle would recognize. The saved person is constantly progressing in his or her spiritual walk, having been made a disciple who learns of Christ and an unfamiliar saint to those he or she used to hang around. The next verses tell two more characteristics of the saved heart and mind:

You Have Been Made to Inwardly Change (verse 23)

Just like the suitcase carefully packed by a mother before her third-grader goes off to camp, God has provided us with the divine ability to be spiritually renewed. This happens in our time of private prayer, as we read the Bible and communicate with God with an open heart. This doesn't have to be a once-in-awhile phenomenon! We can be revitalized by the Word every day.

This divine capability is the vehicle of sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which we work along with God to become more like Jesus Christ. The verb tense in this verse highlights the fact that God is the one who begins the work. He places the resources for seeking spiritual renewal in our own hearts.

Whether we use this capability or not is our own responsibility. We have been made to be hungry for the Word, and that's why we feel miserable when we fail to take advantage of what God has provided.

You Have Been Made to Remain Uniquely Distinct (verse 24)

This is the finishing point of a Christian's progressive spiritual walk. The more we are renewed, the more we will put on the new self which is "after God." God is the author and the pattern of our distinct character and lifestyle.

Righteousness is God's love for what is right. In the New Testament, this word refers to Jesus Christ's righteousness given to us at salvation, and the good works we do after we are saved. Works done before salvation are as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6); they can never earn His favor. Good works done after salvation are quality works that demonstrate our transformation.

This verse's term for "holiness" means being free from contamination. This draws a sharp contrast to Ephesians 4:19, in which the unsaved person is totally consumed by sinful thinking and worldliness. The meaning of holiness and righteousness are found in the Truth - the Scriptures. The Bible defines good living.

We will never arrive at sinless perfection, but as we progress in Christ-likeness, we will sin less and less. We move farther and farther away from anything that resembles the old self. Older Christians who have known the Truth longer serve as wonderful examples for us.

Application Points

  • Are you taking advantage of the spiritual resources God has provided? You have been re-created with a divine ability to be renewed in your mind, and you actually need this to keep progressing in your walk. Are you being renewed daily through time in the Word and prayer?
  • Is your lifestyle and character moving farther and farther away from the old self? Take stock of your spiritual growth in the last year and examine different areas of your life. Have you changed? Be encouraged, and keep growing! If you cannot see much growth, you may need to ask if you are a new creation of God. If you know you are saved, resolve to seek renewal and ask God to help you so you will see that growth.
  • Here is one example of a changed lifestyle: The unregenerate world is characterized by profiting off and participating in sensuality, but Christians are not to partake in such things any more. Do your activities, viewing habits, and listening habits reflect this kind of holiness?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Colossians 3:9, Romans 6:6 - A Christian lays aside the old self.
  • Ephesians 2:10 - We are the workmanship of God.
  • Romans 12:1-2 - A charge to be renewed.
  • Psalm 51 - A prayer for renewal.
  • Ephesians 2:15-16 - Christ makes us new individually and corporately.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Grace Greater Than Our Sin"

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Quotes to Ponder:

"The old self has been earmarked for demolition and can no longer rule over us."

To be made new "is to be like God as our human spirit was originally intended to be before the Fall of man into sin."