Put Off, Put On
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
When we become a Christian, we become “a new creature: old things are passed away” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20). Spirituality is not a list of what we do or do not do, but it grows from our hearts because of our love for God. From Scripture, we learn what God would have us put off and put on when we are Christians.
“Put Off.” Ephesians 4:20-22: “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” We need to get rid of and remove things from our lives.
“You have not so learned Christ” means coming to know, to learn, or to understand. There is a contrast from our former life to our new life as a Christian. Our understanding is enabled from the Scriptures on how we are to act and live. “You have heard of Him, and have been taught by Him.” John 10:1-5, 14: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” The Good Shepherd (Jesus) calls His own. They hear Him and know and follow His voice because of their relationship with Him. We belong to Jesus. “Put off” means remove all evidence of our old way of life and our thinking before coming to Christ. We need to clean up our life and stop justifying sin.
“Put On.” Ephesians 4:23-24: “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Once something has been removed from our lives, it must be replaced with godly things.
Renew means to be young again. A way to renew our minds is found in Psalm 119:9-11: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Ephesians 4:24: “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” God is continually changing our character. He wants us to live a righteous and holy (separated to God) life. We are a “new man” which means new in Christ with a new lifestyle, a new conduct, and a new purpose for God’s glory.
There are specific things we are to remove and add to our lives to be like Christ. Ephesians 4:25-32 lists things we are to put off and put on. We are to take off the dirty clothes of the old man and put on the clean clothes of the new man. We have been washed by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
1. Stop lying and start speaking the truth. (Verse 25: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”) Speak the truth in love. Truth never changes. Honesty and integrity should be part of our Christian character. Lying includes any form of falsehood and is a sign of a satanic influencein our lives. John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
2. Stop being controlled by anger and start controlling your anger. (Verses 26-27: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.”) Saying and doing wrong things in anger separates family and friends. Uncontrolled anger consumes an individual. Proverbs 14:17: “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.” Proverbs 22:24: “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go.” Proverbs 29:22: “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.”
“Be angry and sin not” (Verse 26a). We are to be angry over sin; however, we should never allow anger to turn into rage and wrath. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (verse 26b). Anger must be dealt with on a daily basis. Do not let it fester or boil over. “Neither give place to the devil” (verse 27). If we allow anger to grow, it gives the devil a foothold in our lives. We must never justify anger.
3. Stop stealing and start working with your hands. (Verse 28: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”) We are not to steal but labor to give to those who have needs. We must replace evil with good and use our hands for good. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-14: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”
4. Stop speaking corrupt things and start speaking edifying things. (Verse 29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”) Read James 3:1-13. The tongue can be used for good or evil. This a command to stop using the tongue for evil or to stir things up and destroy. Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
5. Stop allowing bitterness and wrath in your life and start giving way to kindness and forgiveness. (Verse 31-32: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”) Bitterness is a smoldering resentment or grudge-filled animosity. Wrath is a wild rage, fury, or almost insane with anger. Anger is an internal, subtle, and smoldering feeling. Clamor is an outburst of strife or temporary loss of control. Slander is ongoing defamation that comes from bitterness. Malice is a general evil and vice. One of the basic Christian virtues is forgiveness. See Matthew 18:21-35.
Our negative actions grieve the Holy Spirit, hurt our relationship with God, and hinder the Holy Spirit's work in our lives. Is your life changed from what it was like before you came to know the Lord as your Savior? Do you speak the truth in love? Do you control your anger, or does it control you? Do you work for a living and help others? Does your speech give glory to God? Is your life free from bitterness?