You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in the true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22–24).
I used to have a garment that I called my “traveling sweater.” For some reason I deigned it the best and most comfortable item of clothing to wear on an airplane. But after many a journey, instead of being white, it turned slightly grey and shapeless, sporting some holes. Still I loved it, so much that my mom and sister finally had to recommend that I retire my favorite travel companion.
Putting off the old self and putting on the new can feel like leaving behind a familiar way of life. Even if the former way of life leads to pain, heartache, angst, anger, and destruction, we fear what we might encounter in the new. Will we have fun? Will we be fulfilled? What will I have to give up?
But as we don our new clothes in Christ, our minds and hearts are made new. We begin to see how misshapen our old clothes were; how tight they felt and how we couldn’t breathe in them. The trousers, in fact, gave us indigestion. Whereas our new clothes not only reveal who we really are, but they enable us to soar in freedom, truth, and holiness.
In what might be the clearest passage about the old and new selves, Paul points out three imperatives: put off our old self; be made new in our minds; put on the new self. Elsewhere he speaks of living “in Christ,” which gives us the power and strength to live out these imperatives. As we do so, we will be “created to be like God,” which hearkens back to the Genesis account of creation. Through our continued donning of the new self we can live as God intended, with right living and holiness.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to cast off any clothing of the past that I need to leave behind. Renew my mind that I might put on my new self.