You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; (Eph 4:22 NIV)
In the former way of life, people follow their own desires. These dictate their ways and dealings. The apostle calls them deceitful, because they don’t hold their promises. Rather they disappoint and put to shame their adherents. Up front they wave the enticing colours of happiness and fulfillment, but behind they are followed by the bitter aftertaste of disillusionment and unquenched craving. You don’t need to grow old to experience the truth of this apostolic admonition. Common knowledge is the deceitful desire of transgressing against the 6th commandment: You shall lead a sexually pure and decent life in what you say and do… Even young people quickly realize the short lived bliss of contravening this. Sometimes the result is just shameless vice, corruption and deviation of God’s paradisiacal institutions, sometimes it’s just shame, misery, helplessness, but even illness and death. The shameful and deceitful desires of sinful mankind, do not only mislead, but they also debase, corrupt and eventually destroy. However if a person enters the new life with Christ, then this old self is put off. The miserable rule of the old is over and history. May the new person in you be invigorated, strengthened, vitalized just as the old one is put down, drowned and killed off progressively.
Dear heavenly Father! You would want our hearts to be filled with love for you and your godly ways. That is why your holy Word warns us incessantly against the evil, deceitful and shameful desires of our sinful past, which wants to entangle, recapture and destroy us in sinful corruption and vice. Strengthen us in you, give us the power to withstand all sinful enticing and temptation, grant us victory and triumph. Make us thankful from the bottom of our heart for all blessings and gifts that you give and grant us. Don’t let us mourn or sorrow over those, that you would prevent us from. Become more and more the one and only, who surpasses all by far – in our heart and life – now and always. Amen. (Württembergisches Kirchenbuch 1931)
1 Let me be Thine forever, My faithful God and Lord; Let me forsake Thee never Nor wander from Thy Word. Lord, do not let me waver, But give me steadfastness, And for such grace forever Thy holy name I’ll bless.
2 Lord Jesus, my salvation, My light, my life divine, My only consolation, O make me wholly Thine! For Thou hast dearly bought me With blood and bitter pain. Let me, since Thou hast sought me, Eternal life obtain.
3 And Thou, O Holy Spirit, My comforter and guide, Grant that in Jesus’ merit I always may confide, Him to the end confessing Whom I have known by faith. Give me Thy constant blessing And grant a Christian death. (Nicolaus Selnecker, 1532-1592 tr Matthias Loy, 1828-1915)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Monday after the nineteenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 349 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.