Friday, July 22, 2011
"Put Off... Put On"
A life of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and obedience to God involves much replacement, or in Biblical terms, much putting off and putting on.
“If so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).
When tempted to disbelieve and disobey our Heavenly Father, merely trying to refrain from sin does not suffice in overcoming the challenge. We must replace the initial response of our fleshly humanity with thought and consideration concerning the matter at hand - "be renewed in the spirit of your mind" - and then “put on” righteous and genuinely holy characteristics of who we are in Christ.
The Apostle Paul illustrated his teaching with an easily understood temptation.
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28).
To those whose “former conversation” (manner of life) involved theft, and who still as believers may be similarly tempted, Paul commands that work and giving replace the carnality of stealing. The Apostle does not simply command the Ephesian believers to avoid the selfishness of theft, but to devote themselves to those activities that make generosity and self sacrifice possible. We put off theft by putting on work and giving. Decisive action, based on a mind renewed by Scripture, ensures that the believer’s heart engages in a positive, proactive manner that replaces works of the flesh with the characteristics of Christ.
The human heart and mind do not exist in a vacuum. Thoughts, attitudes and sensibilities move within us at all times, leading to corresponding actions. “Out of the heart are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). When we become aware of fleshly inclinations and stimulations contrary to the Word of God, our calling involves both the negative of “Through the power of Christ, I will not think, say and do that,” and the positive of “Through the power of Christ, I will think, say and do this.” All is possible because the Holy Spirit dwells within us to enable the putting off, putting on process of faith.
This dynamic way of faith applies to all temptation. Indeed, regarding the fleshly stimulations that personally affect us, seeking God's "put on" replacement goes far in enabling more consistent overcoming and obedience. The Spirit of the Lord Jesus dwells in us if we have believed, making possible the replacement of the human with the Divine...
"Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." (Romans 13:14)