The last couple of days here in the Florida Panhandle have been unusually cold and I’ve had to remember to put on a jacket every time I step outside. If I don’t, the cold wind immediately reminds me that I’m ill-prepared to deal with the weather.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term, besetting sin. Nowadays, I’m afraid it’s referred to almost as a birthmark rather than a sin to overcome. You know, I was born this way so I guess I just have to deal with it.
Would to God we had that kind of reminder every time we go back to our besetting sin like a dog returns to its vomit. Well, if you’re truly born again, you have that reminder wired to your spirit. It is the Holy Spirit and through God’s Word you can be constantly reminded.
The Apostle Paul instructed the Ephesian church that as born again Christians we are made new and that like a winter coat, we must put on this new man:
“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)
To put on the new man is to pursue Christlikeness. Jesus is our example and we can live holy lives if we purpose in our hearts to follow Him. However, it takes discipline and that is a word most Americans don’t want to hear today, especially in church.
Nevertheless, we cannot be Christlike if we are satisfied with being carnal Christians (another oxymoron that many wear as a badge of honor). This is what Paul was instructing the Colossians in his short but powerful letter:
“But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Colossians 3:8-11)
If you’ve not already noticed, Christlikeness is intentional; it’s something we have to do and it must be something we want to do. We can’t just try to be good; we have to work at being holy. As my pastor told our men’s group one night, we have to retrain and not replace.
What that means is instead of removing the sin and replacing it with something good, we need to retrain our minds. If you think just finding something else will be enough, you underestimate the power of your flesh and the determination of the devil.
Some who like their “freedom in Christ” will tell you that we’re being legalistic, a ploy that’s been around since the beginning of the church. Again, Paul dealt with this directly:
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:8-12)
The word “complete” is from the Greek pleroo and it means “to make full; to cause to abound; to furnish or supply liberally.”
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
If you are born again, you no longer have the excuse of this is my besetting sin that I just can’t overcome. It’s the cross I have to bear.
No, you have all you need and like that warm, winter coat, you just need to put on the new man. Go ahead, you don’t even need to try it on.
It’s a perfect fit.
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Copyright © 2021 David Jeffers