06/21/M – Taking Off and Putting On

Isaiah 48:12-49:12; Ephesians 4:17-24; Psalms 69:14-18; Proverbs 17:19-21

OT: “Coasts and islands, listen to me; distant peoples, pay attention. The Lord called me before I was born. He named me while I was in my mother’s womb. He made my words like a sharp sword; he hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me like a sharpened arrow; he hid me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I myself said: I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and futility; yet my vindication is with the Lord, and my reward is with my God. And now, says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him so that Israel might be gathered to him; for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God is my strength — he says, “It is not enough for you to be my servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel. I will also make you a light for the nations, to be my salvation to the ends of the earth.” This is what the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, says to one who is despised, to one abhorred by people, to a servant of rulers: “Kings will see, princes will stand up, and they will all bow down because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel  — and he has chosen you.” This is what the Lord says: I will answer you in a time of favor, and I will help you in the day of salvation. I will keep you, and I will appoint you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land, to make them possess the desolate inheritances, saying to the prisoners, “Come out,” and to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.” They will feed along the pathways, and their pastures will be on all the barren heights.” (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭49:1-9‬ ‭CSB)

The Servant mentioned here by Isaiah is understood to be the Messiah, fulfilled by Jesus Christ – who was called before He was born and named while He was in Mary’s womb. Of note is what God the Father said about the assignment for His Anointed Servant: “It is not enough for You to be My Servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel. I will also make You a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” Keep in mind that this was written some 700 years before the birth of Christ. It always was and will always be God’s intention to offer salvation, not just to the Jews, but to anyone from any nation that places their faith in God’s Servant and accepts His new covenant for the people. All the nations of the earth are the Lord’s inheritance. It is our job as His disciples and ambassadors to bring the good news of His salvation to every people group… and the Lord will not return to claim His inheritance until there is a worshipping community of disciples from every people group on the earth.

NT: “Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. But that is not how you came to know Christ, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.” (‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:17-24‬ ‭CSB)

Gentiles from Paul’s day came from godless cultures. Though they may have believed in and worshiped gods and idols, they had no understanding of the True and Living God, nor of His ways of holiness and righteousness. When Gentiles came to faith in Christ, their understanding was opened and light was allowed to shine on their darkened hearts and minds. In Christ, it was no longer acceptable to live like the godless gentiles lived. Though they were still gentiles by natural birth, they were no longer gentiles by their new spiritual birth. The truth of God and the knowledge of His word, will and ways was found when they came to faith in Christ, were born again into His new life and adopted as sons and daughters into the family of God. Therefore, Paul implored them to take off their former way of life and put on their new self which was created in righteousness and purity according to the likeness of God.

There is a phrase that has begun making it’s rounds in recent days: “Practical Atheist.” Practical Atheists are people who claim to believe in God – they may even claim to be followers of Christ – but they live their lives like there is no God. Practical Atheists do not know the word of God, much less live their lives according to it. They do not submit their lives to the will and ways of God, but live according to their own will and desires – much like the way Paul described the lifestyle of the gentiles. Faith in Christ involves so much more than just saying, “I believe in Jesus.” Faith in Christ involves staking your entire life on the claims of Christ, submitting fully to His word, will and ways, taking off your former ways, and putting on the new nature that is committed to holiness and righteousness. Do saints in Christ sin from time to time? Yes, they do – but they do not live a lifestyle of sin… and when they do sin, they quickly repent of it when the Holy Spirit makes them aware and receive God’s forgiveness through Christ. Christ established a new covenant with God. That covenant is a covenant of grace to anyone who places their faith fully on Christ. That grace provides everything that is needed to live a holy and righteous life toward God. In Christ, there are no more excuses for sinful, godless living. For those in Christ, it’s time to take off your old ways and put on your new life.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You came to be a light of truth for those who lived in godlessness. I thank You that in You I am led to all truth. In You, I no longer have to live according to my old godless ways. In You I have a new nature that is holy, righteous and committed to the word, will and ways of God. I choose to take off my old ways and put on my new nature that is obtained by faith in You. Grace me to walk in the holy and righteous life You have called me to live. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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