Dressed for the New Life
Are you dressed in grave clothes or wedding garments?
Now that we have been saved by grace how then shall we live? How are we to walk in this new life?
The apostle Paul uses an illustration in terms of taking off one set of clothes and putting on another in Colossians 3:9-10. “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”
The verbs in this passage are in the past tense. “You have taken off your old self . . . and have put on the new.” The aorist tense indicates something that has already taken place. It has already happened, and not something to be done.
The action is to take off completely; to strip off one’s self. If the old self really has been put off, one must not at a critical moment revert to the way one acted before his conversion. The plural describes the deeds, which characterized the former life.
In Colossians 3:10, the idea of “new” is the newness in quality, and it is the continual action “which is ever being renewed.”
We are to take off once for all, definite concluding action. Stripping off is to be done at once, and for good. The old manner of life is to be done with.
“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self (Lit. man), which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
The “old man” is your manner of life which Paul described in 2:3. Westcott said, “The whole character representing the former self was not only corrupt but ever growing more and more corrupt.” Every aspect of the old man’s behavior is putrid, crumbling, or bloated like rotting waste or cadavers, stinking, ripe for being buried and forgotten.
The other action is to “put on” one’s self, to cloth one’s self. It is newness in quality that is put on. Paul is not suggesting the restoration of the original state. The old and new is contrasted.
The present tense in Ephesians 4:23 emphasizes the continual renewing. We are to put on in the sense of putting on a garment (v. 24). Thus, the believer puts on, or fulfills the divine demands God places upon men. This is the habitual action that is to characterize the life of the Christian (v. 25).
The “renewing in the spirit of the mind” of which Paul speaks in Eph. 4:23 is to make new again, or to renew. It is also found in Rom. 12:2 when he speaks of “the renewing of the mind.” This renewal is kin to make new, different. It is an adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God. The stress in Rom. 12:2 is on the continual operation of the indwelling Spirit and the willing response of the believer. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Paul is speaking of a radical change, “being transformed” which is the same word for “transfiguration” of Jesus in Matthew 17:2. It is “to change into another form,” which is an inner change, a radical renovation. We are changed from the inside out.
Our practical everyday sanctification is the restrained and obedient powers of the personality brought into subjection and submission to God’s will by the Holy Spirit.
Are you responding to the appeal of the Holy Spirit to put off all conduct associated with your former life apart from Christ and put on a new pattern of behavior that looks like Christ? We are to follow Christian standards because God has already made us new creatures in Christ Jesus. The apostle is demanding a high form of behavior on our part because something decisive has already taken place in our lives. We have already been made new in Christ by the new birth. Because that has already taken place, we must live like it.
Old grave clothes are ok for a corpse, but they are completely inappropriate for wedding garments in preparation for the wedding supper of the Lamb. If you are the Bride then dress like one.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006