Take Off Your Old Clothes!
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man….
— Ephesians 4:22
From time to time, Denise will go through a “clean out the closet” phase — a very involved process in which she tries on everything she owns and then decides which articles of clothing she’ll keep and which ones she’ll give to someone else. It’s a long process that finally ends with clothes stacked on our bed and all over our bedroom in piles, often with name tags of the women to whom she wishes to give each article of clothing. It is such a huge process that she usually invites a friend to help her do it, and it becomes a kind of “give away clothes” party.
I usually find out how deep the process is when it’s time to go to bed and I can’t get into bed because its covered with the clothes Denise is planning to give away — or I discover it when I get to church on Sunday and see a number of women in our church walking through our church auditorium wearing her clothes. I’m always so proud of Denise when she goes through such a phase, because her process is very involved, very deliberate, and very sacrificial.
Sometimes it makes me think about all the personal “stuff” people have in their hearts and attitudes that no longer fit who they are. Maybe these attitudes and mindsets fit who they were at one time, but now after the grace of God has done such a work in them, some of these don’t fit who they are anymore. Some attitudes are simply out of date with what God is now doing in their lives. Some are just no longer desired. And to be truthful, some attitudes should have never been in their lives in the first place.
There are a multitude of sources from which attitudes end up in our personal lives as Christians. But eventually God calls on us to unload those old ways of thinking that are no longer fitting to who we are in Christ so that we can be fully free.
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To be honest, many believers come right to the edge of real change, only to turn away at the last minute in defeat. They think they’re ready to tackle their wrong thought patterns, wrong believing, and wrong attitudes. But just when they are on the verge of victory, they draw back in fear at the thought of what it will cost them to experience true transformation. The devil strikes them with an attack that sends them reeling emotionally and, as a result, they lose their grip on the Word and slip back into those old attitudes — putting them back into the closet to keep just a little longer. You see, these satanic attacks are purposefully designed to prevent believers from achieving victory in their lives. The devil wants to shake them up so badly that they’ll never regain the momentum to start back on the path to permanent freedom.
The first step to instituting permanent change and getting free is by identifying what needs to go! I advise you to allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to your heart about the areas inside you that need to change. I’m talking about attitudes that are deadly to your victory, such as selfishness, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, gossip, fear, insecurity, and remorse over the past. As you start this process of identification, it is also very important for you to make a faith declaration that you are going to walk free of these things and that you will not turn back!
Once you have identified the areas in your life that need to go and have declared by faith that you’re going for total freedom, the next step is to make a decision to change regardless of the cost or pain involved. You must decide to lay aside your residual hang-ups, bad habits, and fleshly tendencies that block the true expression of your identity in Christ. In Paul’s epistles, he admonished us, “But now put off put off all these…” (see Colossians 3:8).
This phrase “put off” is the Greek word apotithemi, a compound of the words apo and tithemi. The word apo means away, and the word tithemi means to place or to lay something down. When the two words are compounded, the new word gives the picture of someone who is laying something down while at the same time pushing it far away from himself. It means to lay something down and to push it far away and beyond reach. Thus, the word describes removal of something and putting so much distance between you and that old thing that you cannot easily reach out to pick it up again.
In Denise’s case, that physical act of apotithemi entails putting those extra clothes she no longer needs into a suitcase, placing the suitcase in the car, and sending it to church to be given away to other women. Once those steps have been put into process, retrieval would be too painful so her process can’t be undone. That’s what we need to do with the old attitudes that are no longer fitting for the new creations we have become in Jesus Christ.
Paul specifically said, “But now put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth, lie not one to another, see that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:8-10). These are things that are simply not compatible with the new creature you have become in Jesus Christ.
We must deliberately decide to change — to remove, to lay aside, and to put away attitudes and actions that don’t please God and adversely affect our walk of faith or that have become out of line with what God is presently doing in our lives. We must choose to put so much space between us and those old things that retrieval is too painful — we’ll never reach back to put them back into our “closet” or to wear them again.
I don’t know about you, but this discussion makes me want to follow Denise’s example regarding my spiritual closet!
Let’s decide to do a serious inventory of what’s going on in our spiritual lives to see what needs to stay and what needs to go. If there’s anything in our lives that no longer fits who we’ve become in Jesus, it’s time to determine whether it should be a part of our lives any longer.
It’s the season to “declutter”! So why don’t you start evaluating your life today, item by item if necessary, for the purpose of eliminating all those attitudes that are out of character with who you are in Jesus Christ? The Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and as you allow Him to work in you, He will help you get rid of residual hang-ups, bad habits, and fleshly tendencies that block the true expression of your identity in Christ!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, as I conduct an inventory of my spiritual wardrobe, I realize that I’ve not always walked about clothed in Christ. I’ve worn mismatched attitudes that are too small because they have nothing to do with my identity in Christ and do not reflect Your greatness in any way. Lord, I repent for the times I’ve displayed myself haughtily in garments of self-righteousness, which are equal to filthy rags before You. Your work in my life has also exposed attitudes and beliefs that are out-of-date because You’ve opened my understanding. Reveal to me trait by trait what needs to stay and what needs to go. I open wide the door of my heart, and I ask You, Holy Spirit, to direct my attention to remove the attitudes or actions I’ve held on to that no longer fit who I have become in Jesus. I submit to Your work in my life, and I put on Christ so that every part of me is practically and effectively hidden in Christ in God.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. I have put off the old attributes of the flesh — anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication — and I put on the new attributes that are compatible with who I have become in Jesus Christ. Clothed in Christ, I wear peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control as my garments. I regularly inspect my spiritual wardrobe to verify that I am no longer holding on to attitudes and actions that do not serve God’s purposes in my life. I will not fall short of the grace of God by clinging to old patterns and mindsets that keep me dangling on the verge of victory but not moving into lasting change. I will strip off, lay aside, and discard anything that is a hindrance to my walking in all God has planned for me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What is an area of your life that doesn’t reflect who you have become in Jesus Christ? Maybe it’s inappropriate language, a wrong attitude, or an area of unforgiveness. What are those areas that need to go? What are you going to do about it, starting today?
- Do you have any old habits or attitudes that you walked away from in the past but didn’t put enough distance between you and that old way of doing or thinking? Did you find yourself retrieving it and putting it back into your life again? What is that area of your life that needs to be dealt with all over again?
- Do you have physical clothes in your closet that you never wear that would be a blessing to someone else. How long has it been since you’ve done a purge on your closet and ended up blessing others who have been praying for new clothes?