So I have these pair of skinny jeans that have been getting tighter and tighter as of late. It must be my dryer;)! I can still manage to dance and jump my way into them, but they are terribly uncomfortable. I long to get home after a day of wearing them and peel them off in exchange for some yoga pants. Truth be told, they don’t really fit me anymore.
Ephesians 4:20-31 (ESV)
But that is not the way you learned Christ!- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,to put off your old self,[which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day ofredemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
In this passage, Paul exhorts his readers 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.” As Christ followers, who have been made alive by the glorious grace of Jesus, some things just “don’t fit” our new nature anymore. Oh sure, we can squeeze into them. But they will not be comfortable. As new creations indwelled with the Holy Spirit, we are called to put on an entirely new wardrobe.
In verses 25-31, we are instructed to “put off”: falsehood, anger, stealing, unwholesome talk, bitterness, rage, anger, slander and “put on”: kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
In Colossians 3, Paul uses stronger language, calling us to “put to DEATH therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth… and PUT ON then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
If only if it were as easy as loading up all my “sins” into trash bags, heading on over to Goodwill, and then getting a shopping spree like they do on “What Not To Wear” to buy all the designer outfits of Holy Spirit Fruit Company. But the change doesn’t happen that instantaneously.
It is the daily, moment-by-moment choices to put off the flesh, to flee from temptation, to turn the other way, and walk in step with the Holy Spirit. Each step, however slow, on the path of wisdom leading us to righteousness. The more we walk in a way worthy of our calling, the more we will hear God whisper, “That doesn’t fit you any more as my beloved child. Wear this instead. It is a gift for you. You will be much more comfortable in the garments I have designed for you to wear. Do you need some help getting them on? I am here and have given you my power. Trust me.”
And we look forward in faith to the day when we won’t need to “put off” and “put on”. The day when we will be clothed in spotless robes, that will always fit and never be tarnished by our own sin. We will lay down our crowns at the feet of the One who made it all possible.
And that my friends, is glorious grace!
Questions to ponder:
1. What from your old self are you struggling to “put off”? What do you need to “put on” instead?
2. Who can you share this struggle with to pray for you and keep you accountable to stay walking in step with the Spirit?