“But now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 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 3:8-10
One day my wife gave me her strong opinion on my favorite apparel, “I don’t want you to wear those sweaters any more. They make you look old.” She continued with conviction: “In fact, one day they’re just not going to be in your closet anymore.”
I love sweaters and especially my sweaters. They all fit me perfectly and most were birthday or Christmas presents because my family knows I love to wear them. What’s worse is that all of these sweaters were in my winter starting line-up of what to wear to work. They were practically part of me.
Hebrews 12:1 talks about easily besetting sins that need to be put off or they will hinder us in our race. Each of us have different easily besetting or comfortable sins. Think of them as sweaters in your closet – there’s one called lust, another anger, there’s hatred and slander, lying, filthy talk, and addiction; and then, of course, there’s pride. Often there’s one that fits so well it seems like it’s part of us.
The problem with these sweaters is they make us look like the old self. It’s confusing to the world when we claim to be Christians but don’t look like Christians. Why didn’t Alice just remove those sweaters from my closet? She didn’t want to violate relationship. If she removed the sweaters against my will, I might resent it. She gave her opinion but left them there, so that ultimately it would be my choice. God does the same with our old self. Paul is writing to Christians when he says to take off the old self and put on the new. God won’t do it for us.
Alice bought me new clothes to wear. She didn’t just tell me to put off the old; she purchased new clothes that she likes on me. Jesus has done the same. Here are some of the clothes available for the new self to put on: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Jesus bought these clothes with His own blood so we could be and look, new in Him.
Every day we need to look in our closet, reject the old self and put on the new. It will get easier and easier in this life, and in eternity, those sweaters won’t even be there anymore!