Ephesians 4 : 22
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life
and is corrupt through deceitful desires...
Remember your wardrobe from your preteen years? My favorite outfit in middle school was a green Mickey Mouse sweatshirt layered over a white turtleneck, with my matching gold Mickey necklace.
I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit today, or any other awful outfit I wore in the mid-nineties! They have all been discarded throughout the years. My children won't be able to dig through my closet and resurrect a past decade of bad fashion.
Just as I discard clothing as fashions change, we are commanded to put off or discard our old sin nature. “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.” Ephesians 4 :22. Notice this active command. We can't sit back and passively obey this command. We are to actively participate in the process of putting off our old selves.
Our Spiritual Makeover
We all laugh at the women on What Not to Wear, who are stuck in fashion nightmares. Yet, spiritually, we can do the same thing to ourselves unless we grasp the makeover God has given us.
- We were dead in our sin, but are now alive in Christ through his death and resurrection. (Eph 2:5)
- We were slaves to sin, but it was crucified on the cross with Christ and we are freed from it's bondage.
- We were children of wrath, but now have the promise of eternal life.
(Eph 2:3, Romans 6:22)
- We were clothed in filthy garments, but now are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. (Is 64:6, Gal 3:27)
Matthew Henry’s Commentary describes our old self this way:
“Sinful inclinations and desires are deceitful lusts: they promise men happiness, but render them more miserable, and if not subdued and mortified betray them into destruction. These therefore must be put off as an old garment that we should be ashamed to be seen in: they must be subdued and mortified.”
Our old self promises happiness and lures us back with its familiar comfort, just like my old sweatshirt. Yet, it leaves us feeling miserable and ashamed. We must actively put off our old self, and not wait for the What Not to Wear crew to show up on our doorstep.
Purging Your Closet
Have you ever asked God to show you your sin? It's not really a fun prayer, but I believe it is necessary. We are so self-involved that it can be hard to tell when we are sinning sometimes. Look at how David beseeches God in Psalm 139:
Psalm 139 : 23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
David knew there was sin deep in his heart, and that God could reveal it to him. The answer to putting off our old self is to let God reveal it to us, how gross and abhorrent it is to Him. When we see the magnitude of our sin, we are moved to confess and turn away from it. The Gospel gives us the ability and freedom to turn away from our sin and walk in the Spirit towards love and good deeds.
Dare to ask God what David did. The momentary discomfort will give way to freedom and confidence in your new identity: a daughter of the King, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, free from the chains of sin, and being equipped for every good work!