Understanding putting off old life and putting on new life
by Ndidi Ngwuluka
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I was stung by Colossians chapter 3 yesterday and so I spent time trying to comprehend it. Verse 4 talked about my old life being dead and my new life being in Christ; then in verse 5 I am told to put to death everything related to the old life. So I wondered; if my old life is dead and I have a new life in Christ what do I have to put to death again?
Verses 5 -8 listed some of the old ways which include sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires (described by The Message as doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it), greed (grabbing whatever attracts your fancy – The Message), anger, rage (irritability), malice, slander and filthy talk. I believe I have the new life but I know I still see some of the old life in me. I know I am in Christ and the scripture says if I am in Christ, old things have passed away; behold the new has come. So why are old things still within my flesh? If old things have gone, why am I being told in Colossians to put them to dead? Then from verse 12, I am told to put on compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, patience and the list goes on. When I gave my life to Christ, did not the old die and new life given to me? Why do I notice the old more than the new? I made up my mind to continue to meditate on Colossians 3 until I am convinced it is woven into my cells. So as I pondered and asked questions God began to explain to me:
Imagine a slave whose master informs he is no longer a slave but a son having access to the wealth of the master. The master gets him a new set of wardrobe but every morning the ‘slave turned son’ wears his slave clothes. He wears his slave clothes out of habit. For more than 10 years, he has thought, spoken and behaved like a slave. Although he has been given a new life, he is still on automatic drive. His mindset needs to be altered and this may not happen overnight. For him to begin to wear his new wardrobe, he had to make a conscious and deliberate effort. He has to understand the change of roles, learn how to talk and act to depict his new role. Furthermore, to ensure he wears his new wardrobe, he may choose to help himself by burning his slave clothes. In fact it may not be advisable to keep any clothes for memorial because he may wear them someday. Also, keeping any slave clothes may slow down the process of speaking and acting like a son.
When the scripture says we have been given a new life, it means a fresh start. We have to make a deliberate effort to put off the old life and embrace the new life. We had our old wardrobe of impurity, anger, hatred, unforgiveness and more. This old life has woven itself into our cells. However, God has placed before us a new set of wardrobe which includes gentleness, humility, compassion, discipline, forgiveness and patience. We have to dress in the new wardrobe. The new life needs to be woven into our cells thereby displacing and flushing out the old life.
Putting off the old life and putting on the new life is a daily process – daily walk in the spirit and daily death to self. Imagine your physical wardrobe; only a few of us if any can change our wardrobe at once. It is usually a gradual overhaul. However, if you tuck the old clothes somewhere around, someday you will pick them and wear. But if you give them away or burn them, you will no longer have access to them. Putting off the old life can be instant in some areas of our life or can be gradual. However, focus on putting on the new wardrobe God has for you. Consciously put on the new wardrobe daily and with time it becomes an unconscious daily activity. As you continue to do this with focus and intentionality, you will realize with time the percentage of your new wardrobe is far higher than the old wardrobe. This summarizes the process of perfection in Christ.
This morning as I was getting ready to go to church, a few things went wrong and I was unhappy and irritable. Then I heard in my spirit (having been meditating on Colossians 3), “Irritability! Don’t wear it!”
I responded, “Yes Lord.”
When I responded in affirmation, I began to relax. So I stripped off the old cloth (irritability), wore a new one (quiet strength) and I felt good.
It dawned on me that we do not manifest as the children of God because we do not apply what the scriptures say. It is meaningless hearing or studying the word without applying it. For us to put the old life to death we should understand that:
• We have been empowered by Christ when we yielded to him and his grace is available for us.
• We must be willing to give up the old life. If we set out to strip and burn the clothes of the old life, we are free to live as Christ has called us to live.
• We must prayerfully put off the old life; then embrace and put on the new life. For it is not by our strength but it is God who energizes us to live for him. So seek his help.
• Obeying at every step ensures you conquer more grounds.
And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your all basic, all purpose garment. Never be without it (Colossians 3:14 –The Message).
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (NIV).
Therefore, if God says put off the old life, it means he has given us a fresh start, leverage and wardrobe for the new life. It is up to you and I to burn the old clothes; accept and wear the new clothes custom-made by our maker and lover. Our lives, families and the world will be better as we begin to manifest as children of God.
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