Put Off, Put On
November 26, 2010

In Christ, we need to learn to live out of what we are, instead of what we were. In order to do this though, we need to learn biblically who and what we are in Christ. As we study the Bible, we determinedly put these truths that we learn into practice in our life. In this way, we train ourselves to learn to think and act biblically; to think and act in keeping with our newness in Christ.

In this regard, Paul tells us, “You were taught to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Not only are we to put off (and keep putting off) our old sinful habit patterns and ways of thinking and acting, but also we are to replace them by putting on (and keep putting on) those things that are in keeping with who we are in Christ. This involves being renewed in our mind; thinking in biblical ways. From a renewed heart, a heart that has been made new in Christ, comes renewed thinking – thinking that is developed and refined through learning more and more who and what we now are in Christ. From this renewed thinking comes renewed actions.

In Romans 12:2, Paul calls us to “not be conformed to this world,” but instead “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This “put off, put on” process, which starts with our thinking, brings about transformation (or metamorphosis). And this is for a purpose: “so that you may prove[test, approve, discern – from the root word “to think”] what the will of God is – that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Having renewed minds enables us to more and more discern how to live a life that is pleasing and glorifying to God; doing the will of God – that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Can you see the problem? In the church, we often get people involved in activity or theological study before they have ever had the chance to learn of and experience the renewal and change of thinking that embraces such a new life in Christ; embracing it out of inner integrity and not out of a guilt that provokes them to busyness or to church activity just because they think that is what is expected and required of them. No. God does not want whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside, but filthy within (Matthew 23:27). We need to change our entire way of looking at things. We do not want primarily change in behavior. We want inner change – change in thinking – and this will lead to change in behavior. This is what we need to learn. This is what needs to be taught.

In doing this, there is great benefit. Not only does it bring glory to God, but also in our renewed thinking and actions out of a renewed heart God promises us something: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

As you think about these things, consider also the broader passage Philippians 4:4-9 and the additional blessing God has for us in it.