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But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you 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.
One of the most brilliant things about the way God is saving the world is the way He involves us in the work. Many other religions break down in the difficult balance of change being on your or on your deity. Think about the worldviews around the world and you can see how it works out when all of the good is dependent on mankind, or when none of the good is dependent on mankind.
God brought salvation by purchasing us for Himself. He continues to bring salvation through His church. He has taken away our sin and clothed us in righteousness, but here Paul is telling us how to act. Why does it matter how we act? Why bother putting away anger, wrath, and malice if God has already died for our sins?
We put away all of those things and clothe ourselves in our new self because that is who we really are. It isn’t fitting for children of the king to dress in rags, and it isn’t fitting for those for whom Christ died to speak obscenely and lie. Our new self is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. That means that God is remaking us. He is working in us to make us the new people that we already are.
This gives us boldness. Once I was on a mission trip 7,000 miles from home, and a guy in a hotel lobby asked me what I was reading. In that moment I had the temptation to put on fear and lie, but instead, I realized that I hadn’t traveled 7,000 miles to shrink back. I told him I was reading the Bible and we talked about it for a bit. I’m still not so sure about that encounter since he kind of artificially wanted to see it but we were in a very public place and it was illegal for me to give him my bible. All the same, that phrase “I did not travel 7,000 miles to shrink back,” has stuck with me.
Jesus did not come to earth, live a perfect life, die on the cross, rise from the dead, and ascend into Heaven so that we could be unchanged. He has changed us on the inside so that we can be free to act on that change on the outside. We are no longer under a law that commands us to do some things and avoid other things. We have been given the amazing freedom of friendship and adoption.
Judgment and fear are banished and replaced with a new life. How then, since we’ve been given this new life, can we take the option freely given to us, to live however we want? No, now we can put off the way we were taught in the world, the ways of our own selves and live for God.
We are being renewed. Let’s watch it happen and act like it.