24 Jul Get Settled: Let Go of the Old and Embrace New Life in Christ
My wife Melody and I are very intentional about what we wear and how we look. We believe God, who wonderfully and fearfully made us, wants us to be kept the same way, and really, we both just like to look good. For her, it’s from the hairstyle, to make-up, lipstick, outfit, shoes, bag, overall color combination, and even the sunshades. For me, it’s much less (obviously!): a well-ironed outfit (emphasis is on the “well-ironed”) and just the right footwear to go with it, and the right attitude, or “swagger.”
Earlier this month, we had planned to go to the Six Flags amusement park in New Jersey, so the night prior, my wife asked me what I was going to wear. I didn’t have a particular look in mind, but as you can already tell, looking good is the overall theme. It was the day of, and I began trying a few styles. I finally decided on: a shirt/short matching set (check), sandal (check), swagger (check), all colors matching (check). Mission complete.
As I left the room, Melody saw me and said, “Babe, your shirt looks rough, like really rough. You can’t do this, babe; I’m fine wearing this, not you.” I had a reputation to protect, so I did the needful by ironing my shirt, and we left.
In a similar sense, putting off the old nature and putting on new involves taking intentional steps of faith. When we put our faith in Jesus and say “yes” to following him, there is no room for our old ways. But what do the old and new ways really look like? What does it mean to live God’s way and our own way? Let’s examine these through God’s lens, the Bible.
Ephesians 4:21-22 says,
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.”
Do you recall what led Adam and Eve to sin against God and live below his standard for them? Through deception, Satan planted a seed of doubt in Eve’s heart to have a strong desire for something that directly opposes God’s plan, which is precisely what lust means to God (Genesis 3). Then Jesus came and died to make all things right so we can be one with God, restoring our identity of being in God’s image, with righteousness and holiness, as Ephesians 4:24 mentions. During his time on earth, Jesus demonstrated God’s way of living by how he lived without sin and by the words he spoke.
So how do we put off the old self and put on the new nature? Maybe spend some time in deep reflection and recognize the “old self” by asking yourself: Do you find yourself constantly and excessively craving for something that you know deep down will not glorify or please God? It could be sex out of marriage, worry about money, what others think of you, fame, or even food.
Have you failed to admit a wrongdoing to someone in school or in the workplace? Or have you remained in the same unhealthy habit of uncontrolled anger and an undercurrent of jealousy even though you received Christ because you think that’s just who you really are? Perhaps it’s because you have been through a difficult season and that is “your truth”?
These are the old ways Jesus and Paul say to repent from, to put off. Because just like Melody knows a rumpled shirt doesn’t look good on me, God knows the old nature doesn’t look good on you. So, time to let go!
But how do we do that? How do we let go of something that has been a part of us for so long?
Paul goes further to say,
“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes”.Ephesians 4:23, NLT
According to the AMP and MSG translations, this is talking about having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude and a God-fashioned life that is renewed inwardly. This may begin with you practicing a slot and spot where you connect with God, feed on his word with the Holy Spirit, and prayerfully ask him to renew you from inside.
If you spend enough quality time in God’s Word, God will landscape you with his Word, making a salvation-garden of your life, according to James 1:21. This will eventually shape your overall attitude, giving you fresh mental and spiritual energy to view life God’s way and live the overflowing life he already prepared for you.
Regarding prayer, David once asked God to search him to know his state of heart and thoughts, especially anything in him that offended God, so God can lead him back to living his way of eternal life. You too can say a prayer like this.
I have talked about personal habits. But what about your new nature publicly? Paul says in Ephesians 4:28 that if you believe Jesus and are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and be generous to others in need. Maybe you don’t steal, but what attitude do you clothe yourself with when someone in need approaches you for help? Or how do you respond when giving is mentioned in church?
As we approach Love Week, seize an opportunity to put on and practice your new nature of generosity by giving your resources away for the kingdom of God. Do you know that righteousness reveals itself from faith to faith and faith expresses itself through love? Demonstrate your new lifestyle of righteousness by showing others kindness and genuine love and put your holiness on display by setting yourself apart for serving during Love Week.
Start simple: you can focus on one habit at a time, one day at a time. God is not in a hurry; he will meet you where you are, but he wants you constantly working towards living his way, for your own good. This is foundational to being made new and being settled in an ever-shifting world.
Dayo Afekare/Communications J-Teamer
JLI (Journey Leadership Institute) Graduate
Dayo Afekare is a husband, father, and a lover of God and his Word. He serves in multiple J-Team areas and will be leading the Prayer and Pastoral Care teams at the New Middletown Location. Dayo loves to spend quality time with family and friends, to connect with people, and advance the kingdom of God through writing and prayer.