Ephesians 4:20-24 - 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
My boys love to dress up as superheroes. As soon as they put on their costumes, a kind of transformation takes place as they go from being regular boys to Batman and Robin. At once, they run through the house fighting crime and battling evil. As superheroes they are invincible. It seems the costume change empowers an identity change. In the above verses Paul uses a similar idea to help us understand our identity in Jesus.
As Christians, we have been transformed into a new creation in Christ. We have a new mind with new ways to think, we have a new heart with new desires to feel, and we have a new identity to live as a new person. Paul instructs us to embrace our new life by doing two things.
First, we are told to “put off your old self” (v.22). This means we need to turn away from our old life of sin. Practically, this means turning away from futile thinking that dishonors God, deceitful desires that dishonor God, and rebellious lifestyle choices that dishonor God. Second, we are told to “put on the new self” (v.24). This means turning towards our new life of faith. Practically, this means “being renewed in the spirit of your mind” (v.23), following the desires of the Holy Spirit in your heart (Gal. 5:16) and living for Jesus as a child of God (Eph. 5:1).
Put off the old and put on the new is imagery of taking off and putting on clothing. It’s Paul’s way of saying to daily take off your old self, which is like an old dirty coat covered in sin, and put on your new self, which is like a new coat covered in the righteousness of Jesus. Why should we do this? Because it is the Christian way.
Since we have been transformed, we are called to live a transformed life by taking off the old self and putting on the new self. This is identity language. The point is simple: who we are determines what we do and how we live. Because you are a new person in Jesus, live like it.
• What are the aspects of your old self that you are struggling to take off?
• What’s one thing you can do this week to put on the new self?
• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for a new identity and a new life in Jesus.