"But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus." (Ephesians 4:20-21)In speaking of learning Christ "in this way," Paul is not speaking of "how" we learned something, but how our learning has effected and directed our lives. Those who learned from the "futile way of life inherited from your forefathers" (1 Peter 1:18) wrought withing themselves a life that was futile and empty. Those who learned life by submitting to their own lusts and greed, learned in a way to produce a life of corruption and death within themselves. Much of what we have learned in life has not lead us to a life of holiness, piety, and righteousness but rather to a life of sin and death. However, those who have truly learned of Christ have learned from Him in a way that leads to a life that is growing in ever closer conformity to His likeness and image. The proof of our learning is not found in the learning itself but in "the way" that it produces within us.
For most of us, before we come to the learning of Christ, we must first pass though the learning of the Father. Jesus said, "It is written in the prophets, 'and they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me." (John 6:45) Part of our hearing and learning from the Father is our hearing and learning from the Law. Paul says, "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:23-24) The law was given, among other purposes, to show us our inability to conform to the ways of God. It was to show us that, no matter how good and holy the law was, our sinful nature kept us from its obedience and robbed us of its promised benefits. While the law is good and holy and promises life to anyone who will keep it, we are sinners and stumble at each jot and tittle of its holy commands. The law testifies against us that we are sinners and that we need a savior. It shows us our need for Christ.
Having passed through the hearing and learning of the law, we come to the hearing and learning of Christ. The learning of Christ is different from the learning of the law. The learning of Christ removes burdens and lightens our load. It illuminates us to find and live the life that we were created to live. It sets right our lives and gives us life abundantly. Jesus said of our relationship with Him, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) The learning of the law sought to bring conformity from without us, but the learning of Christ changes us on the inside. It changes and conforms us by first changing our hearts and renewing our minds. This is what was promised through the prophet Jeremiah, "'But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord, 'I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 31:33-34) This inward change is like leaven as it works in our lives until we are thoroughly and completely changed into His image.
However, the learning of Christ is more than understanding and knowledge. The Hebrew understanding of learning includes the actuation of what was learned. It is not enough to learn Christ, but we must then put that learning into practice for it to have any affect on our lives. Jesus said, "Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:47-49 NKJV) Our foundation in Christ is not found in what we know but what we do. It was those who acted on what they knew who built a strong foundation. It's not enough to be taught by Christ but we must put what we are taught into practice. It is only when we do what we have been taught that we have really learned anything. Jesus said, "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:13) Notice He says, "go and learn," not "study and learn." We can never truly come to learning until we actually attempt to do what we have learned.