The New Christian Wardrobe

14 05 2020

Several readers are expressing to me that the shelter in place order is losing its novelty! It is as if our society is changing gears for a longer journey than previously realized. And some gears are grinding!

In our study of Ephesians, Paul now gets very practical and specific. In some ways, I find this passage frustrating right now, because I feel my capacity for kindness and discipline is diminishing. I desire encouragement, not exhortation.  But I have to be honest with Paul’s letter. And I call to mind that the brother is writing from prison!

So let’s open our minds to what the Holy Spirit has for us today in these paragraphs (Ephesians 4:17-32). Paul again uses walking as the image of living righteously.

Our text clarifies that if we are ever going to walk in a new way, we must stop walking the old way.

Out With the Old Wardrobe

The passage gives us this picture. You go to the doctor for a full physical exam. You first remove your worn out clothing and set it all aside:

“that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph.4:22).

With the disposal of that old clothing, you also stop walking in your former lifestyle. There is a lot of putting off to do (mostly having to do with your words):

  • put away lying (4:25)
  • don’t sin when feeling anger (4:26)
  • give no place to the devil (4:27)
  • steal no longer (4:28)
  • no corrupt words (4:29)
  • don’t grieve the Holy Spirit (4:30)
  • put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice (4:31)

Many times we are surrounded by one or more people who still wear these old corrupt clothes. Their vocabulary, prejudices, dishonesty, and critical spirit can affect us. Some marriages or friendships are debilitating when we don’t realize the other person emanates uncleanness or greediness. Thinking we are showing patience and love, we may tolerate words which tear down. Bad company corrupts good morals. It is vital that we tend to our own souls and make sure we are not partnering with darkness.

In With the New Wardrobe

Continuing our analogy, your physical exam has checked many indicators of well-being. Some lingering problems have surfaced. So the doctor prescribes a new way to live and walk. He issues you a new set of clothes.

“be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:23-24).

What does the new wardrobe look like? Paul writes:

  • speak truth with your neighbor (4:25)
  • labor, doing good work, so you have something to give one in need (4:28)
  • use words good for edification, imparting grace to the hearer
  • be kind to one another, tenderhearted
  • forgive one another, as you have been forgiven

How are these new items of clothing looking on me during Covid-19?

Many people go to a doctor to fix a problem, but then ignore his advice to change behavior which improves health. For example, we’ll get a pill for high blood pressure but fail to eat healthily and exercise.

In our walk with Jesus, we can eliminate old behavior but fail to practice new ways. Here is a brief check-up to consider:

  • When you earn money, do you look forward to sharing?
  • How have you intentionally built others up with your words?
  • How have you expressed forgiveness to others recently?
  • Who would say that you are a genuinely kind person?

If there are some practical exhortations from this passage which need some attention, choose one to bring to the Lord in prayer. Sit with the issue, or situation, and ask the Lord to show you what He would want you to do about it.