Imagine that you are drenched in a thunderstorm and just made it back home. Your’re soaking wet and your clothes are covered in mud. What’s the first thing you’ll do? Would you sit on the sofa in your wet clothes? Would you change your clothes and then head out into the rain again? Of course not. You’ll take a nice warm bath and change into a set of dry clothes.
Though it sounds nonsensical that anyone would not change out of wet clothes before lying down on their bed, that’s what we do sometimes do spiritually. We stay in our sinful states instead of changing out. God has provided a clean set of clothes for us – Jesus Christ (Rom 13:14).
Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, rebukes them for continuing to live in sin. They have no reason to live as the Gentiles do. He then suggest three actions to follow in order to live a holy life.
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; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
1. Put Off
Put off your Old Self. The Ephesians were still clothed in their sinful nature. Their old self was being corrupted by deceitful desires of the flesh. Paul advised them to remove the sinful nature as these desires were leading them to sin in anger and bitterness. It fractured the fabric of unity and love among the Christians. Is it possible to remove the old self? Yes! Because Jesus broke the power of sin over our lives, we are able to resist temptations and choose to obey God’s commands. Is there anything in your life that you need to put off? Maybe it’s alcoholism, gambling, lying, obscene language. You can put it off in Jesus’ name! Tell God you’re sorry. It will not be easy but God will provide you a way out (1 Cor 10:13).
2. Put In
After you have put off your old self and your sinful way of life, you need to put in new thoughts and attitudes. Otherwise you will be the same sinner clothed in new clothing. You’ll be a like a beggar who was dressed in royal robes but still living with a poverty mindset. After you remove your wet clothes, you have to take a bath to wash the dirty water away. This involves renewing your mind with the Word of God. That’s what repentance is – “a change of mind”. The Word of God reshapes the lens through which you understand life. Your priorities will become kingdom priorities. Your values will become kingdom values. Have you read and studied God’s word? Do you regularly practice what you have learnt? As you download God’s truth in your mind, the Spirit takes it and reconfigures your whole life system.
3. Put On
The final step is to put on the new self. What is this new self? Paul says that this new self or nature is created to be like God in righteousness and holiness. We are all created to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Though we might try to do good deeds and live a good life, our righteous acts are like filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). Only by believing in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection will we be clothed with Jesus’ righteousness. God placed the Holy Spirit within us so that we will be changed daily into His image. This can happen only when we recognise that God clothes us in Jesus’ righteousness. When we put off the wicked deeds, and put in God’s thoughts, then we can put on the new self. Have you accepted Jesus as your righteousness? Are you putting on Jesus daily by choosing to obey His word?