Put Off and Put On
Imagine coming home from a long run, or a highly intense game of badminton with a couple of friends. You will likely experience the stench of perspiration on your clothes and the sticky, uncomfortable feeling on your skin. In order to clean up, you will put off the dirty clothes, head for a bath and finally put on a clean set of clothes. Right? It would be absurd to wear your clean set of clothes over the dirty ones, thinking that it will make you clean. This concept applies the same in the spiritual realm.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
22 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;
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
While in the physical, we do not put on the clean clothes over the dirty clothes, Apostle Paul is teaching us it is likewise in the spiritual. In Ephesians 4:22, we are taught to put off our former way of life. This former way of life refers to the sinful nature, the life that shuts God out, the life that is filled with lust, bitterness, anger and worldliness. These are examples of our former way of life. We are taught to put off and to remove this old self.
Instead, we are called to live a life as taught in Ephesians 4:23-24. A life that is “made new in the attitudes of your minds”. We are called to put on new attitudes – the Christ-like attitudes. The mind is an important aspect of our life, both physically and spiritually. Romans 12: 2 tells us, “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.” We need to constantly be a new person, to renew our mind with the Word of God. It’s our responsibility to renew our mind with His Word and to put on the new self. Our new self is one that is Christ-like, righteous and holy.
Now, there are two terms that Apostle Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:23, “righteousness” and “holiness”. These two words are very commonly found in the Bible. But do you know what it means to live a life of righteousness and holiness?
The dictionary defines “righteousness” as the quality of being morally right and justifiable. However, God’s standard of righteousness is supremely higher than ours. Therefore, no amount of good deeds can earn us the title of righteousness. This is because, as long as there is any sin, the whole being is considered as unrighteous. But praise God we do not earn righteousness by works. Instead, when we receive Jesus into our lives, our sins are washed away. Because of that, we have received positional righteousness. We are called and made righteous in Jesus, because of His death and resurrection. Now with this identity, we are able to live righteously! Learn from Abraham. The Word of God tells us in Romans 4:3, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” So let us also continuously believe in God, trust in Him and follow His ways so as to live a life of righteousness.
The next term that Apostle Paul used is “holiness”. It comes from the root word “holy”. To be holy is to be set apart for God. Yes! Set apart FOR God. To be set apart means to be distinct and different from the world. Holiness is a result of us having the right relationship with God. In order to do so, we need to believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. On top of that, we are to read and study the Word of God daily and grow in Him. As we do these, we are putting on our new self.
Join me in this prayer.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your Word. I commit to put off my old self and die to it. Gone are the bitterness, lust, carnal thoughts, bad habits and sinful lifestyle. Instead, every day, I make a conscious decision to put on my new self. I live out my positional identity as one who is righteous and holy in Jesus. I pray that as I set myself apart for You, Your light and love will shine forth through my life, and I may radiate Your goodness and point others to You. Thank You, Father. In Jesus Name I pray, AMEN!”