“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:9b-10 NIV).
Growing in Christ is like putting on new clothes. We come to Christ dead and unaware of the darkness within us. He touches us, giving us new life and making us aware that much within us needs to change.
The problem with being a sinner is that we are steeped in our sinful habits and thoughts, unaware of the darkness of the prison in which we’re locked and the dirty, ragged clothes we wear as prisoners there. We lie to ourselves and others about our condition, thinking it’s not so bad.
This is why God defines sin. Because sin permeates our very core, we often don’t recognize our own sin. At salvation, Christ opens our eyes to our dilemma. Our hearts are changed, and we see the reality. We then recognize that we are locked within prison walls in prison garb.
God reaches over the wall and lifts us out.
As newly freed prisoners, we don’t pitch a tent in the prison parking lot. We run hard away from the walls of our former prison, out into the sunlight of the kingdom of God, shedding that prison apparel and asking Jesus to help us into our new clothes. We can only put them on with his help.
Think how you feel when you’re studying a passage in God’s Word and it dawns on you that a previously unrecognized habit, thought process, or action is a regular part of your life. The Holy Spirit puts his finger right on that spot. It’s as if the blinders have been removed. There it is! You’ve been doing that for a long time, unawares, even though you’ve read that before.
We need God’s help to see ourselves with new eyes.
Recently, the women in one of my bible studies asked me to compile the “vice lists” scattered throughout the New Testament. These are little scatter-shot lists where the writer says, “you used to do_________, but now you are new in Christ, so put off those things.”
These lists are wonderful for flattening arrogance, because we find murder and sexual immorality side by side with gossip. Sins are mentioned without division of worse sin and lesser sin. It only takes one sin to make you a sinner. Sinners sin. God isn’t shocked by our sins.
Before we came to Christ, many of us were on the “worse sin” end of the spectrum. To us, these vice lists are uplifting, because we know exactly what we’ve done, have repented of it, and are in the process of growth. However, as we grow, people from the “lesser sin” end of the spectrum condemn, judge, and slander us. Yet, on these vice lists all of the sins are piled together.
For people who’ve sinned grievously, these lists are a relief and a blessing. God will help us take off that sin. He’s not embarrassed to mention them, no matter what they are. Each of these vice lists is couched in words like, “such were some of you, but you were bought with a price” and “but God, because of his great mercy, changed you and made you new.”
On the requested list, I bolded these portions and left in plain font the lists of sins. The emphasis is on the reality of who we are now in Christ, new creatures, forgiven, clean. As such, we are learning to live the new reality. Sometimes it takes time to wiggle out of some of those old garments.
The important thing is that God saves. He sees everything we do and loves us completely. Nothing surprises him. He sent his Son to die for those very sins. Jesus was aware of them as he hung on the cross. These sins can be freely confessed. Nothing need be hidden, and God has already done everything necessary to allow us to become new creatures in Christ.
God is merciful. He blesses us with grace we don’t deserve. He changes us from the inside out.
How is the Lord helping you out of your prison garb?
By helping me realize that my sin is not any less offensive to the Lord than theirs. Also by showing me how much better what He wants me to put on, is for me, than what I currently am wearing. Showing me who he is and causing my desire to be like Him to grow by the power of the Spirit, letting go of that old garment and putting on His righteousness. Examples: Replacing the idolatry of control with seeing he is Sovereign, loves me and is trustworthy over what concerns me. Taking away the need to fix others and reminding me He is my Savior from sin and Shepherd, leaving Him as their Healer and Savior, entrusting them to the Spirit’s working. His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control flow from His very being and I want to be like him the more I learn who He is and what He has done for me. It keeps me more and more humble and compassionate and forgiving.
Good words, Kripsie Anne! I’ve been trying to hold onto that old garment of control lately, too. This trip toward publishing feels like I’m on a bucking bronco right now. I want the horse to slow down and walk, but I think bucking and running is the way it’s going to be. I’ve been praying all day for the Lord to guard my steps, guide my path, and keep me safe in his arms. Thank you for sharing!
I was wired to be a people-pleaser since childhood and desperately wanted to be loved.
These days I don’t NEED someone to need me in order to feel loved & valued.
God’s Love flows through me and I no longer expect anything from others (when I stay close to Him) in return because He fills me up.
At least on most days.
There are still days when I get lonely in a crowd at church.
In my E Stanley Jones devotional today he wrote about the new world we enter when in a relationship with Jesus – that it feels like we swallowed sunshine. I love that word picture!
I’m similar. Learning to value the Lord’s opinion above all others is helping me strip off the people-pleaser clothes. They’re difficult garments for a firstborn to peel off!
Wonderful post! I love your writing and it’s very thought provoking. What a blessing to be reminded that God doesn’t ever forget me or my circumstances. Thank you!
Thanks, Terrie! It’s a life-giving truth, isn’t it!