The Emperor’s New Clothes

I have never cared much about what I wear. As long as I am comfortable, I am happy. Try to put me in a suit and tie and I will grumble. I buy very few new clothes; often I find great deals in thrift stores and that is enough. However, what our spiritual clothes are like matters a whole lot more. We do not want to be caught naked or dressed in dirty rags.

Paul likened our old ways of life to filthy, threadbare garments that God replaces with clean, new clothes. The clothes represent the things we do that flow out of who we are. The destiny of our identity is the image of Christ. That new identity expresses itself in new behavior.1

Do not lie to one another, since you 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. (Colossians 3:9-10; see too Ephesians 4:22-24)

The analogy crops up several times in the New Testament. The patterns are interesting.

Three times Paul tells us to put on armor: the armor of light (Rom. 13:12); the full armor, but in particular the breastplate of righteousness and a belt of truth (Eph. 6:11,14); the breastplate of faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation (I Thess. 5:8). These new clothes are not fancy dress for show or parties; they are battle gear, designed to enable us to survive and prevail.

Often the instruction is to put off an old practice or attitude in order to put on godly new clothes. Many of the items are characteristics of Jesus, and there are several parallels with the fruit of the Spirit. Colossians 3:12-14 lists compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. 1 Peter 5:5 calls us to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another. Humility is that special attribute that prepares us to develop so many other godly qualities.

More than clothes, these characteristics display to others who we really are. So, what do people see when they see us? Four verses summarize the dress code of God’s children. We are to clothe ourselves with Christ (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27). And our new selves are constantly being renewed into the image of the One who created us, in righteousness and holiness (Eph, 4:24; Col. 3:10).

Perhaps the most exciting and freeing observation is that while we are told to clothe ourselves with most items, God clothes us with two: The power of the Holy Spirit and an imperishable body after death (2 Cor. 5:2-4; Luke 24:49). We do not have to be overwhelmed at the thought of having to rearrange our character wardrobe. The Holy Spirit comes as Helper; his power strengthens us to make the changes. So, begin by inviting Him in and waiting for Him to come.

Please share these Bible devotionals with others who might be blessed.

  1. The process begins in this life but is completed in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:53-54; 2 Cor. 5:2-4). []

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