Ephesians 4:21-24. 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Did you get dressed this morning (or will you)? Me too. In fact, I get dressed every day. I put off the old clothes and put on new ones. You most likely do too. And it is this simple, daily exercise that becomes one of Paul’s favorite metaphors for the Christian life – putting off and putting on.
Look closely at Ephesians 4:21-24 above. In Christ you have already (notice the past tense) put off the old self and put on the new self. You are a whole new person, a new creation, new mind, new heart, new desires, new righteousness and holiness. Half the battle is just believing this awesome new reality that is yours – you are wearing Christ!
But the other half is actually appropriating this new reality, moving it from a spiritual reality inside of you to a physical reality that flows out of you. And so Paul uses the same put off and put on language to describe not only what has happened to us in the past (4:21-24), but also how we are to live in the present (4:25-32).
Can you see the put off-put on pattern in these verses?
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 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. 29 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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
- Put off: falsehood – Put on: speaking truth with your neighbor
- Put off: anger – Put on: resisting the devil
- Put off: stealing – Put on: honest work with your hands and sharing
- Put off: corrupt talk – Put on: edifying, grace filled talk
- Put off: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice – Put on: kindness and forgiveness.
The Apostle is moving us from the passive reception of saving grace, to the active giving of grace to others. For example: forgive one another (active sharing of grace) flows from knowing that God has forgiven you in Christ (passive reception of grace). But it’s all still faith in grace. Remember, we can daily put off and put on in all of these areas only because we have already put off the old self and put on Christ.
Christian, it is because of this reality, our new life in Christ, that we can actually be Christ-like. Transformed into Christ’s likeness is not a fantasy that is so far removed that we should just not even bother trying. Everything Paul is commanding us to do is exactly what Jesus did, and it is what Jesus wants to do through us today by grace through faith. Jesus wants to express himself through you. He can and he will because you have put off the old self and put on the new self.
“To live is Christ” is to live daily in this ongoing pattern of put off and put on. We have already put off the old man and put on the new man once and for all. Now we can daily put off the dead man’s clothes and put on the new clothes of Christ and his grace.
Do you think about putting on Christ each day?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you already have put on Christ’s life allow you to put on his love and grace today?
Christ in you
What relationship of yours could use some putting off and putting on? Be specific.
Playlist: Put Off, Put On.
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