Our son and his family were with us to celebrate Christmas this year. One of the gifts our grandson (freshman in high school) received was a red Nike hooded sweatshirt. As soon as we finished opening gifts, he took off the “old” sweatshirt he was wearing and put on the new red hoody which he wore pretty much the rest of the time they were here! He very literally did what Paul challenges believers to do in Eph. 4:22-24. He “Laid aside the old…and put on the new.” So often when we get something new it stays in the closet or drawer while we continue to wear the old with which we are more comfortable.
When we trust Christ for eternal life, we are “born again” (spiritually…Jn. 3:3) and Paul writes, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (II Cor. 5:17). The problem is, we often have trouble letting go of the “old things”—old habits and old ways of thinking and acting and speaking when our lives were controlled by the desires of our old sinful flesh. We are more comfortable in our “old clothes.” That’s why we have numerous challenges in Scripture to “walk in newness of life…consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God…Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God…and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… ” (Ro. 6:4,11-13; 12:1,2).
In Christ—because of His death, burial, resurrection and ascension—we have available to us a whole new way of living victoriously and abundantly (Ro. 8:37; Jn. 10:10). But, although we have a new nature through the Holy Spirit and Christ living in us, we also still have our old sinful Adamic nature until God takes us to heaven. So, we have a struggle within us between the Spirit and the flesh, described by Paul in Rom. 7:15-24 and Gal. 5:17. The secret of living the new life in Christ, Paul gives us in Gal. 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” As we, moment by moment, allow the Spirit control of our lives (Eph. 5:18), we are enabled to “put off the grave clothes and put on the grace clothes!” Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can follow Paul’s admonition in Eph. 4:22-24: “…In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, 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.” Paul goes on to list some examples: Stop lying and speak the truth; don’t let the sun go down on your anger; stop stealing and work hard to provide for your needs and share with others; stop speaking unwholesome words and speak words that edify; put away bitterness, wrath and anger and slander and be kind and forgiving (vv. 25-32).
As we come to the conclusion of 2018 and enter 2019, this would be an appropriate time to take inventory of your life to see if you need to put off some of the old deeds of the flesh and put on the new self created in Christ in you. As a believer, you have received through the indwelling Holy Spirit and Christ in you everything you need to live victoriously for God this coming year. But, the choice is yours. He does not force you to “wear your new clothes.” Let Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers be your challenge: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (II Cor. 5:14,15).
Wishing for you a fruitful year of service for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And, remember, we are now another year closer to His return—even so come, Lord Jesus!