Put off … put on!

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Ephesians 4:17-32; Psalms 69:1-18

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Ephesians 4:22-24 “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 true righteousness and holiness.”

The clothing metaphor of “putting off and on” is used a few times in Paul’s letters to the churches. The metaphor is often used to describe the new life we ought to live as Jesus’ disciples in comparison to the old life we ought to be discarding. Some also consider the metaphor as being used to prescribe a sense of consistency in living out the new life. Hence, putting off the old self and putting on the new self ought to be done on a daily basis like putting on and off our clothes.

While these few verses suggest the importance of living our daily life in holiness; we also need to note that the “living” of the holy life is only made possible through the blood of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit. This is suggested in verse 24, where Paul mentioned that our new self is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. This is also suggested in verse 30 where unholy actions and talks are similar to grieving the Holy Spirit. We need to note this because the putting on and off metaphor could be easily misunderstood as using our own strength to pursue holiness.

Question is: How do we put off the old self and put on the new self in the Holy Spirit? The first thing to consider is to believe that in Christ Jesus, we are no longer hopeless subjects to the power of sin. Quite the contrary, we are now given the power from on high to deny or flee from sin. The key then is to be willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to “exercise” this power – to run away from sin. When we failed to do so, we must confess that at times and for whatever reasons, we simply do not want to flee. The key is also to grow in our intimacy with God – so much so that we grow in our sensitivity in our hatred for sin and to the prompting of the Spirit to exercise the God-given power to put on the new self.

Lord our God, may You help us to consider our ways on a daily basis and grow in our intimacy with You so as to be able to put off the old and put on the new. Amen.



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