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change of clothes

An excerpt from this weekend’s message, “Closed for Remodeling.”

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, 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.  Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:5-11).

When we come into a relationship with Jesus, we give him the right to go through our closet and toss out the clothes that are no longer appropriate for a Christ-follower.  That means those comfortable pair of bell bottoms that you put on whenever you wanted to do things your way, to practice greed rather than giving — those have to go.  That well-worn shirt still hanging in your closet, the one bearing the results of anger — it has to go, too.

Those old clothes symbolize the “life you once lived.”  Sometimes we box them up, put them in the basement, thinking we’ve replaced them completely.  But then we’re tempted to go downstairs, unpack a favorite belt, and wear it again.

Jesus offers us a new way of relating to God, to others, and to ourselves.  It’s our “new self.”  It’s being renewed by God as we grow in our knowledge of him.  Our new clothes reflect the virtues and values of Jesus:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).

Resolutions alone won’t change your heart towards your husband or wife.  Reading the latest best-selling self-help book may temper your temper, but it won’t replace it with the passion of God.  You can try harder, read more, do more, pray more.  What you might need is simply a change of clothes.