to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
(Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV)
Today we read the third, and final, step that it takes for a born-again believer to live according to their new identity as one of God’s children. The first step was to stop living like we used to. The second step was to change our way of thinking. The third step is to start living like we should.
Its not enough to just stop doing the things we should not do. We need to develop new habits that are consistent with who we are in Christ. We are to put on the new self. The Greek word for “put” is ενδυο (pronounced: en-doo’-o) which means “to clothe”. The word picture here is someone taking off their old clothes and putting on new clothes that identify who they are, much like someone puts on a uniform as part of their profession. Their clothes identify him/her and their occupation.
This analogy would have resonated with the Ephesians. As we learned in the introduction to this letter, the Temple of Diana (Artemis) stood in Ephesus. All kinds of sinful practices took place at this temple. One of the rituals there was people would remove their street clothes before entering the temple grounds and would don a garment that would identify them as a follower of Diana. Even today some organizations, like the KKK, have a similar procedure.
Paul calls the believers at Ephesus, many of whom most likely worshipped Diana previously, to metaphorically clothe themselves in righteousness and holiness (two characteristics of God) because they were created after the likeness of God.
We know that all people are created in God’s image. But at the moment a person is saved, he/she becomes a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10]. We are no longer identified with the world and sin. We are now identified with God and holiness.
Believers represent God on this earth. And while mockers will point out every flaw in a believer’s life as proof God does not exist, God does not expect us to be perfect. But He does expect us to behave in a way that is consistent with our status as one of His children [John 1:12].
Over the years there have been occasional news reports of members of the Royal Family in England getting caught in some embarrassing situation. I’m sure the Queen lets that person know that type of behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable for one of her children or grandchildren. Understandably, she wants them to act in a way that brings honor and respect to the crown.
Likewise, certain behavior is not suitable for God’s children. Paul will describe this in more detail over the next several verses.
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