Putting on the New Self
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” — 2 Corinthians 4:8-9,16
“…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
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practicesand have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” — Colossians 3:9-10
“We do not lose heart.” It has been a difficult year. “We have been afflicted in every way.” But in Christ we are “not crushed”! So, we do not lose heart. God is remaking us in His image. We are to “put off the old self, which belongs to our former manner of life…and be renewed in the spirit of our minds”. We need to change the way we think. We need the mind of Christ. Our perspective on the world, on the Church, on life in general must be transformed by the wisdom from above. Then we can “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God”. But as St. Paul tells the Church at Corinth, “our inner self is being renewed day by day!” This transformation into the likeness of Christ is a work in progress. We may get impatient when we do not immediately see the fruits of our labors, but God is at work in us as long as we persevere in our efforts to walk in His way. That is why St. Paul exhorted the Church at Philippi to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). We must work at letting God do His work in us.
God has dismantled His Church, and is building a New Temple for our worship of Him. And this work can only be completed when those who are in Christ allow Him to transform our inner nature. Our way of thinking, and seeing, and acting must be brought in line with Christ. The virtues we will examine this week are a challenge to us to see the world around us not with the eyes of our “old self”, but with our mind’s eye transformed to see with the eyes of Christ. It is a challenge to practice the wisdom from above, and to practice self-control and justice toward others both inside and outside the walls of the Temple. But these finishing touches, as it were, are a necessary part of the excellence Christ is pursuing in making us into a Holy Temple (Ephesians 2:21).
The work of building the Temple is not easy, and we can expect to be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and even struck down because of our affiliation with Christ. But in Christ we can stand fast and persevere to see His triumph in us who are His Body, the Church. “We do not lose heart.” And we learn Christ. We learn to desire what He desires. We learn to yield our will to His. We learn a new way of living and ministering that is truly like Christ, because it is Christ who is at work in us. We put on the New Self. We put on Christ.