Spiritual growth is a lifelong process of change. But change is often difficult. Whether it’s learning to communicate better with those you love, overcoming sinful thinking patterns, or developing new spiritual disciplines. However, for those who are in Christ true and lasting change is possible.
In his letter to the church in Ephesus the apostle Paul explains how change takes place in a Christian’s life. He describes it using the metaphor of changing clothes, putting off the old way of life and putting on a new one.
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to 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 4:20-24)
Paul describes the change process in three ways: put off your old self, be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self. By no means is this process of change easy, but it is not difficult to understand.
Putting off our old self begins by acknowledging things in us that need to change. God’s Word is the mirror in which we see ourselves most clearly and are able to identify those “old“ ways of life that need to be put off. And then God calls us and empowers us to do the hard work of repentance, self-denial, and refusing to submit to the demands of our sinful nature. Change begins with “putting off” those old ways of life.
Then our minds are renewed as God aligns our desires, understanding, and sense of purpose with his revealed will in Scripture. This makes it critically important for us to hear, study, memorize, and meditate regularly on the Bible. This is how God reorients our hearts and conforms our thoughts and desires to his. And as we do this we are led by the Spirit to put on the new man, becoming more and more like Jesus Christ.
Now, let’s make this personal. What is God calling you to “put off” in your life? What attitude, habits, thinking or desires? And as you study scripture, what is God calling you specifically to “put on” as a follower of Christ? And finally, who is walking alongside you on the journey of change? God is not asking you to do this alone.
Be encouraged, true and lasting change is possible in Christ.