Change this Christmas!
We all struggle with sin. Different sins plague each of us but we all fall short in the eyes of God. It is a lifelong battle to “put off” our old nature and replace it with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But this is God’s desire, and He is faithful to provide us with the grace and strength to live according to His will.
We became new creatures the moment we accepted Jesus as the Lord of our life. The Holy Spirit lives within each believer and because The Helper is lives within us, we can set aside sin. The resurrected Christ saw to it that sin and death no longer have victory over us.
“That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)
In Scripture, you will find many passages where we are instructed to put aside old habits and take up new ones. The new habit always follows immediately after the mentioned sin or old nature. It is found in the passage and not ten verses from the trespass.
Ephesians 4:25 states, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25
The sin we are instructed to put away is the sin of lying. As you read on, you immediately find the exhortation we ought to practice. Truth! We are to speak the truth, not lies!
Ephesians 4 mentions several put-offs and put-ons, a term introduced in Self-Confrontation: A Manual for In-Depth Biblical Discipleship by John Broger. In Ephesians 4:28, we are instructed to lay aside the act of stealing and replace it with honest labor, so that we have something to give others who are in need.
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”
Ephesians 4:28 (NKJV)
James 3:8-10 gives us a clear insight into the power of the tongue and how difficult it is to control. With God, all things are possible and although we may daily stumble over our words, we are called to master it with God’s grace. Blessings and curses come from the same mouth. Additionally, unkind words are easily uttered when we are ought to be using our tongues to encourage one another in an effort to build each other up.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
There are many Bible passages that address the tongue and a personal word study would be beneficial if you are so inclined. Ephesians 4:29 has a put-off and put-on that recognizes man’s propensity to speak foul words. God commands us to speak words of truth but always in love, respect, and gentleness so that they may impart grace to the hearers.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)
The book of Ephesians ends with a final put off and put on. The Apostle Paul exhorts his readers to set aside bitterness, anger, and evil speaking (which includes gossip). Instead, they are to put on their new nature and act with kindness. He reminds them of Christ’s forgiveness of their sins and encourages the believers to forgive one another.
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)
The Bible challenges every believer with specific requests. Not one of them is impossible, for we have God’s grace and power within our reach. If you are struggling with a particular sin, confess it! Then ask Jesus to guide you to passages in the Word that tells you what to put on once the old sin has been cast off. Walking in the righteousness of Jesus Christ is our goal but it requires a new effort every morning.