Throughout the Bible there are expressions that are meant to make a point clearly for all. One such expression that Paul used several times in his writing was to “Put off” and “Put on” as though speaking of the garments that one had been wearing and new ones to be put on a person. In Ephesians 4:17-24 he described the change that God intends to take place in a persons life when they become followers of the Lord. “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
Notice that he begins with demonstrating authority on the topic. He speaks along with the Lord. It isn’t his personal feelings on the matter but speaking as the Lord directs. His initial challenge is to change your walk. You used to walk in the futility of your mind which was described by him back in chapter two and the first few verses as he made the case for our need for God’s grace. Now that we have been saved by grace through faith, we need to change the way of life. The old life of sin was one of futility. The mind was set on pleasure for a moment that lost sight of the pain that followed.
When we walk in futility it leads to being darkened in our understanding. We live by lusts and greed. Life becomes so self centered that we only think of other people in terms of how we can use them to get what we want. In this futile mindset, nothing is pure any longer. Paul told Titus, “Unto the pure all things are pure, but to the wicked and defiled, nothing is pure. Even their mind and conscience is defiled.” In a world where pornography is growing in use every day, where personal pleasure becomes the rule for life and greed rules our work, you can expect sexual sins to become more and more the norm. It reaches the degree that sex outside of marriage is accepted as the natural thing, homosexual relationships are sanctified, and pedophilia becomes accepted. In such a society it is natural for babies to be killed before and after birth because it is inconvenient for us to hinder our lifestyle to take care of a child.
Paul’s response of such a degraded way of living was to say, “That is not the way you learned Christ.” He pleaded for them to “Lay aside your former manner of life.” He noted that that way of life was corrupting them in accordance with the lusts of deceit. Picture yourself coming into the house after a long day of work in the yard or coming in from a sweaty time of running or exercising. It is time to take off the old clothes that are filthy and smelly and clean up your body so you can put on clean garments and feel fresh again.
Paul calls this change on the spiritual person as being renewed in the spirit of our minds and putting on the new self, which is in the likeness of God. It is important that we grasp the fact you can’t change your life without changing the way you think about things. If our thoughts are in the gutter, our actions will always join them them. You can’t change the way you think about things while still feeding your mind on filth. When someone says they want to change their life and not be overcome with addictions and with filthy living but turns around to read and watch things that promote a filthy lifestyle they are fighting a losing battle. Change what you are putting into your mind if you want to change your life.
Notice the concluding thought on making such a change is “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” There are all kinds of new garments that one can put on. But it is of no value to put back on more filthy, smelly garments after taking of the old ones and taking a bath. More filthy clothes will leave us filthy and smelly as well. Put on fresh garments of right living and walking in holiness. These new garments aren’t expensive or hard to find. They are ones God offers freely to any who would come to Him. Is it time for you to change your clothes?