Clothing makes the man—so goes the saying that is especially dear to the hearts of haberdashers. And certainly, it is true that what we wear affects us. Studies have suggested that children who go to school attired sloppily perform less effectively and behave worse than when they are cleaned up and dressed up. Be that as it may, there are several spiritual garments that we can ill afford to do without.
1. “Put on Christ.” “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27, KJV; NASB reads: “have clothed yourselves with Christ”). “Put on” means to “sink into a garment”; to “invest with clothing.” The baptism that clothes the believer in Christ refers, not to water baptism, but to the “one baptism” of Ephesians (4:5b), the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that filling and indwelling that occurs at the moment of the new birth. We put on Christ, then, when by grace we are saved through faith. Every believer is from that moment eternally robed in the garment of Christ. It never comes off because it is perfect, beautiful, and appropriate for every occasion. It cannot be soiled by sin or the sin nature, so it never requires cleaning. It is the garment of heaven—the one thing required to enter there. Every man, woman, and child who enters heaven must have put on Christ.
2. “Put on the new self.” Paul explains that believers have “laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Col. 3:9b, 10). The “old self” refers to our corrupt, sinful, depraved nature, whereas the “new self” speaks of our regenerate nature. The putting off of the old self and the putting on of the new have a judicial aspect that involves our eternal position before God: God pronounces those He has redeemed to be forever delivered from sin (the old self) and forever righteous (the new self). But in daily practice, the believer must “consider” himself dead to immorality, greed, etc., and to put aside such sins as anger and lying (3:5, 8, 9), i.e., put off the old self; at the same time, believers must set their minds on things above (3:2); that is, put on the new self. When we allow the old self to prevail, we produce the unfruitful works of darkness, which God must chasten. When the new self prevails, fruit and blessing are produced. The new self glorifies the Lord, edifies the brethren, and blesses the believer who “wears” it. In a similar vein, Paul commands the Roman believers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (13:14). The oftener we consciously “put on” and “wear” that new nature, the sharper it looks and the better it fits. Worn often enough, the garment makes its wearer more and more indistinguishable from Christ.
3. “Put on the full armor of God.” Having put on Christ as a garment of righteousness and having begun daily to practice the putting off of the old self and the putting on of the new self, we are ready to put on the armor of God and do battle. Paul describes these vestments. Our loins are to be “girded . . . with truth,” our chest with the “breastplate of righteousness.” Our feet must be “shod” with “the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Additionally, we are instructed to take the “shield of faith,” as well as the “helmet of salvation” and the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:10-17). This armor prepares us for battling victoriously against Satan. He knows our weaknesses: should our shield of faith be down, should we forget the armor of truth, he will surely attack at those points. Should we neglect the sword of the Spirit, “which is the word of God” (v. 17b), we will face the enemy weaponless.
What are you wearing today? Are you clothed in the filthy rags of unrighteousness and the rotting garments of the flesh? Or have you, by faith, put on Jesus Christ? And having done so, are you walking in the Spirit, having put on the new self, or are you allowing yourself to be defeated by the old self? Are you wearing the armor the Lord has provided, or are you battling without armor—a sure prelude to defeat. Take a few moments to get properly dressed each day, and you will not be embarrassed or defeated.
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