Eph 4:20-23 “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”
The verses immediately prior to the ones under consideration here have been speaking about to us about living a life estranged from God. They have described our condition when we walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit. This is not what the walk that is ours when we learn Christ.
Notice that Paul did not say that we have not learned about Christ. It is most likely that many of those who were walking after the flesh had learned about Christ. They had probably heard the stories about this man who claimed to be the Son of God; this man who claimed to be born of a virgin; this man who claimed to be risen from the dead. Maybe there was a time that we learned about Christ and certainly there are many in the world today who have learned about Christ. Have we learned Christ?
By the mercy of God, we hear Him speak in our hearts. He gives us counsel in our daily lives. He teaches us His way and His will. He shows us the Father and assures us of our salvation. We no longer trust in our self-righteousness because He has taught us that it is as filthy rags. At the same time, He has taught us that we are clothed with His perfect righteousness; that it has been imputed to us. The truth exists in Jesus because He is Truth!
Learning about Christ may not have any great impact in our lives. However, learning Christ enables us to put off our past behavior (conversation) that we had while walking in our carnality (the old man). No matter how much we might try to polish up our old nature, it is still corrupt. You can put a fresh coat of paint on a rotten board and hide the rot for a while, but the board is still rotten. Christ does not simply give us a fresh coat of paint. He changes our lives. We don’t just gloss over our former behavior; we put if off.
We have been told over the years that you cannot simply stop a bad habit; it needs to be replaced with a good habit. Paul tells us here that we don’t just put aside the carnal man. When we learn Christ, the spirit of our mind is changed. The breath that moves our thinking and understanding has a divine source. We are changed from the inside out. This change is the result of learning Christ as opposed to simply learning about Christ.
May we ever rejoice that His love for us is so great that He would teach us what we cannot learn for ourselves; His teaching allows us to learn Him, and the understanding that comes from that learning changes our thinking and our behavior!