by Steven Chan
22 May 2011
Every day, after we wake up, it is our usual practice to put off our pyjamas and put on our clothes and for some ladies, put on their make ups! This is a daily practice. What about our spiritual life? For our spiritual life, there are things that we also need to put off and there are other things that we need to put on.
In Gal 3:27, the Bible says: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” At baptism, we die to sin, and are raised to walk in newness of life. However, the Bible teaches that we must keep on putting off some things and putting on other things.
Col 3:1-10: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,”
We are to put off “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth and lying”. The unfortunate thing is that unaware to us, these things sometimes get back into our lives! Such was the case with Simon the Sorcerer who subsequent to his baptism allowed evil desire to come back into his heart as he sought to purchase the gift of God with money. Baptism results in our past sins being forgiven and we are supposed to make every effort to put to death the former man of sin. When we are not vigilant in consciously putting away this past behav- iour pattern, then we risk allowing these deeds of the flesh come back into our lives: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jeal- ousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunken- ness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”(Gal 5:19-21) I.n place of the old man, we are to put on the new man’s clothes: “Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wis- dom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, sing- ing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:12-17) When we put on the new man’s clothes, we will also need to manifest “the fruit of the Spirit (which) is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”(Gal 5:22-23) It may not be a bad idea for us all to compile two lists and place them on our mirror – one list that we need to be aware that we should put off, and another list of attributes that we should put on every day – and just as we look into the mirror each day to see that our clothes are in order, we should likewise take a look at our spiritual clothes to see whether we are properly dressed for the day.
In James 1:19-26, the Bible exhorts us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only and that therefore we are to “lay aside” or “put away” some things and “continue with” or “put on” some other things:
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”
Interestingly the Bible uses the example of looking into the mirror and how one “immediately forgets what kind of man he was” – i.e. he is not aware of the type of spiritual clothes he is wearing! He dashes off to his daily activities, forgetting who he was. He needs to be aware that he ought to lay aside his old rags or pyjamas of “wrath, filthiness and overflow of wickedness” and put on the new clothes of “the implanted Word of God” –seeking to do God’s will and being careful with what he says every day. When a man fails to note how he looks (from God’s perspective or mirror) when he looks into the mirror of God’s Word, he forgets what he needs to put off and what he needs to put on. He acts as if he is doing okay and thereby he deceives his own heart and his religion is useless. It will do us well to note that the Bible refers to the religious person who fails to bridle his tongue, as one who deceives his own heart and his religion is useless. Such is the importance that the Bible places on “what we say and how we say” every day. Does our speech or conversation betray our hearts?
In James 3:8-12, the Bible refers to the danger of “the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” As the Bible declares, these things ought not to be so! Rom 6:2: “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
Brethren, we must consciously determine to put off our old man of sin (and old manner of life) and put on the new man (one whose sole desire is to glorify God in everything that he does). Do not let the old man of sin come back into our hearts for we have all died to sin when we were baptized. We should not live any longer in it.