“Mom? What is this?” My daughter asked, holding a sweater she’d found buried in the drawer.
I smirked, glancing at the multi-colored eyesore that looked like I borrowed it from The Cosby Show.
“I guess I should go through some of these old clothes.”
Her raised eyebrows conveyed, Ya think!
The thing is, there were a lot of old clothes and shoes that I really didn’t want to part with. The ridiculous sweater she was holding, I wore when her father and I were dating. It had sentimental value.
As I looked through the clothes, I realized something: I wasn’t the same person I once was. Most of the clothes didn’t even appeal to my taste any longer. And then it hit me. Just like old clothes, sometimes we hold on to old mindsets, habits, and activities that don’t match our new lives in Christ Jesus.
- Those ancient, but comfy sneakers I never wear in public (and probably shouldn’t even at home) sort of represented the questionable TV shows I was still watching.
- The pair of holey sweatpants suddenly represented that not so holy friendship.
- And what about the slinky, low cut black dress? Would I (should I) wear that? This one represented the things I know I shouldn’t do, but do anyway, and then need to ask for forgiveness later.
So, why was I holding on to things that would only bring me down and further from the life Christ had for me?
It was time to get real. And the truth was, I liked some of those old things. Others were just cozy. Familiar. Sentimental.
Isn’t it interesting how we can stay attached to something or someone just because it’s familiar? We might even know deep inside that it’s not healthy for us spiritually.
How about you? Are there any old “clothes” in your wardrobe that don’t represent who you are in Christ?
I love the way God uses everyday circumstances, like clothes, to speak to us. I knew for sure God was trying to get my attention when He used another typical situation to teach me. This time, I was shopping for a new winter coat. Coats are one of those things that you can try on over the top of the clothes you’re already wearing—that is unless you’re already wearing a coat. Putting on a coat over the top of another coat is difficult. I know because I tried and found that it didn’t work well. I had to remove the old coat first.
The same is true spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Of course, I’m not referring to what we wear on the outside. I’m talking about what’s going on, on the inside. What we “wear” on the inside matters. A lot.
Even though the Bible tells us that the moment we become Christians, we are born again (John 3:7 ) and have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), we still have the same sinful nature alive in us along with the Holy Spirit. The two are at war according to Galatians 5:17.
We must deal with this war of the old self and mindset if we want to experience real and lasting change. It must begin with what we are wearing on the inside.
I lived many years not truly understanding this. I went to church every week, read my Bible, attended Bible studies, sang worship songs, and did all those “Christiany” things. But on the inside, I felt defeated. Every time I tried to live the way the Bible and my Pastor directed me, it seemed I failed.
I cried out to God in a desperate and frustrated, but genuine prayer. “What is keeping me from growth? What is keeping me from You, God?”
Immediately, in my mind’s eye, I saw myself very, very angry.
God revealed to me that I didn’t have room for His love and His ways. Because like trying to put on a new coat over the top of the old coat, it didn’t fit. I needed to take off the old to make room for the new.
How to Put Off the Old and Put on the New
We must choose to let go of the old to make room for the new.
How about you? Have you felt defeated? Like you’ve been trying so hard to be Christ-like, but instead, you have failed? Perhaps, like me, you need to put off something in order to make room for the new that God wants for you.
For me, it started with choosing to put off anger.
Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and … put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (NIV).
I like the way the Message translation puts it:
“Everything connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it!” (Ephesians 4:22 MSG)
2.CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK
The Bible says we are “transformed” by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
Interestingly, the Greek word for transformed used above is metamorphosis (also used in 2 Corinthians 3:18). We use the same word today to describe the amazing change a caterpillar goes through in becoming a butterfly. It is a beautiful picture of what happens to us spiritually when we allow God to direct our thoughts which in turn direct our lives.
Keep in mind that metamorphosis is a process, as is our spiritual growth. So, don’t give up!
3. EXCHANGE OLD FOR NEW—Put On God’s Way
We must exchange our old habits and ways of doing things with God’s ways.Our character is basically summed up by our habits. Habits start in the mind.
When we put off the old way, it leaves a hole that must be filled. Of course, God’s way is for us to fill it by putting on His Spirit.
I had to choose to get rid of the anger, but I also had to exchange it for God’s way, which was forgiveness. That was not something I could do on my own. I needed help with the old way of thinking.
“Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” Ephesians 4:23
I think it’s best to let God’s Word speak for itself when it comes to what things we need to put off and put on. I’ve come up with a list from scripture, that is by no means exhaustive, but is helpful for this article (emphasis mine). I hope you will take the time to read and meditate on God’s word. Rather than have you look them up yourselves, I printed them below, highlighting the traits to put off and put on.
What NOT to Wear—Put OFF
From Ephesians 4:25-31. “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”[Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”
From Romans 1:25-32 “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”
From Galatians 5:19-21 “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
What TO Wear—Put ON
From Galatians 5:22-23 “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
From Colossians 3:12-15 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
From Ephesians 6:10-18 “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
My friends, you can see from the scripture above, that we have a real enemy who wants to keep us stuck in our old ways. However, God has given us everything we need to “put on” to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). But we must first “put off” the old ways that the enemy is using to keep us ineffective and feeling defeated.
We can do this! We have the Holy Spirit living in us to help and guide us to:
Choose to put off
Change the way you think
Exchange old (put off) for New (put on)
I’m praying for you, dear friends. We are in this together. Please let me know in the comments below or through email how God has spoken to you.
In Christ’s love,
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