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Look at the way you’re dressed!

by Nathan Stewart last modified Feb 06, 2016 09:05 PM

boutanier 1311675 639x427Have you ever found yourself in the regrettable circumstance of observing well dressed people behaving like oafish slobs? Likely candidates for such an appalling spectacle might be a wedding where the guests have partaken too freely of the wine. Or perhaps a formal awards night for a rugby team where the players have forgotten their sense of occasion. Dressed to the nines, they nevertheless begin assailing each other with bunches of fives. That is to say nothing of the foul language and the hurtful slurs. What was meant to be a joyous occasion of great moment has been reduced to spectacle and farce.

So it is with the body of Christ when its members behave in a way that is at odds with our dress. Says Paul in Colossians 3, the people of Christ have died to their old life and live now hidden with Christ in God. In other words, the reality for the people of God is that they have been covered with the Glory of God’s son. When he returns, it will become clear to all that they too are clothed in glory.

What a spectacle then, if we behave like grubs covered in our wretched soiled rags? We must put to death that boorish behaviour, says Paul, ‘sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.’ When Christians behave like this the church looks just like those drunken louts fighting in their dinner suits. Instead of enjoying the finery with which the Spirit of God is clothing us, walking in the heavenly way of Christ, we’re reverting to the slovenly gate in which we once walked when we lived in our grubby earthly gear.

We must put all those ways away, says Paul, in fact we must put them to death. Paul urges us to give way to the renewal of the new self; for our behaviour to match up to the spiritual reality of our identity in Christ. We ought not, therefore, to ‘lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self.’ Not only, ought we be honest with each other in word and deed but we should understand that when we behave in the way of the ‘old man’ (that is according to our old sinful identity in the world) we are in effect deceiving each other concerning spiritual reality ‘that [we] have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.’

The key to living in a way that lives up to our heavenly clothing is to keep on being renewed in knowledge after the image of Christ.

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