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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Put On The Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14)

Put On the Lord Jesus Christ

(Romans 13:14)

Another version of Romans 13:14 reads; “Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ…” It sounds like we are to put on Christ as we would a nice warm coat, doesn’t it? And the rest of the verse reads: “and make no room for sinful desires.” Many Bible passages tell believers that because Christ’s Spirit lives in us we are to “put on” Christ and “put off” sins. Let’s read just a few of them.

“Your body is the house of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God: and you are not your own.” (1 Cor. 6:19) “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … And over all these virtues, put on love,…” (Colossians 3:12-14) “With your former way of life you were taught to put off your old self,…and to put on your new self in Christ, created to be like God …” (Ephesians 4:22-24) “If you remain in Me (Jesus) and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7) “The Lord is with you when you are with Him… (2 Chronicles 15:2)

The Bible has much to say about the Gods’ gift of the incarnation - how the Spirit of Christ is given to believers and how He lives in us. But what about the “human side” of this mystery (God with us)? How do our actions help or hinder us being able to live a “Spirit filled life”? How do we “put on” Christ? What is our part?

Scripture says we can choose to “put off” sin. And we can choose to “put on” Jesus Christ. What we want – our will- is all important. If we don’t want to let the Lord Jesus into our lives, He won’t force Himself on us. Revelations 3:20 reads: “Behold I (Jesus) stand at the door and knock, if anyone opens the door I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Jesus is knocking – wanting to come into our lives. And our will – our choices – are like a door that we can open or close to the Savior.

So how do we “close” or “open” the door for Jesus? How do we clothe ourselves with Him? I think it is by our choices. Jesus says that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. (John 14:15) Virtues and vices (sins) are real things – real capacities for good or evil. When we obey Christ and “put on” virtues - with Gods’ help of course, we allow the Lord to change us. To choose to put on the Christian virtues is to practice the presence of Christ. And He will always help us when we choose good.

When we refuse to “put off” a sin, the sin can gain ground in our lives, become addictive and even take us over. Psalms 109:18 is a scary verse. It reads: “He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil.” We can substitute “cursing” with any other sin. Whatever sin - dark coat- we “put on” – anger, lying, ambition, pride, hatred, bitterness or whatever, can enter into us, seep into our very beings and change us!

I have a problem-a sin- of getting angry with people. Christ commands us (me) to love others but instead often I get angry with certain people. It is easy for me to keep the door closed to loving these irritating folk as I know Jesus wants me to do.

Even though I wanted to obey the Lord and love a person close to me, I couldn’t seem to love her in my own strength. Finally I asked the Lord for help - to give me His love for this person. And then instead of seeing her faults I began seeing this person as new – beautiful - the way she was supposed to be. And I began praying for her to have whatever the Lord wanted for her. Sometimes I fall back and my old anger returns, and I have to pray again to see this person the way my Savior sees her. But if I want to love her, (if I want to “put off” my anger and “put on” His love) Christ comes along beside and makes it possible.

C.S. Lewis points out this same thought – how important our choices are – and how the Lord is there to strengthen our good choices. He says: “Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor: act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. …” (Mere Christianity, p. 115) And Scripture follows this idea up with: “Having done all to stand, stand..” (Ephesians 6:13)

We are not meant to live out our lives in our own strength alone in the cold. We are commanded to “clothe ourselves with Christ..” (Rom. 13:14) And what warmth and riches we are being offered! 2 Cor. 8:9 reads: “…though He (Jesus) was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” When we “put on” Christ we become rich. Along with eternal life, Christ brings us many other gifts!

For one, Jesus brings us peace. He tells us: “My peace I give you, My peace I leave unto you, not as the world gives…” (John 14:27) He helps us through our troubles and rescues us. “Casting all your care upon Him (Jesus), for He cares for you.” ( 1 Peter 5:7). When we open the door (our will) to Christ’s Spirit we receive the “fruit of the Spirit” which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) And we also can receive some of the gifts of the Spirit too, spoken of in 1 Cor. 12.

Life gets rough sometimes and we can forget the Lord is with us. Forget His promises and become discouraged. Since forgetting comes easily, could we make a special effort to remember? Remember that Christ is with us. Remember everyday to talk to Him, listen for His voice. Ask Him to help us “put off” the sins that come our way. Wrap ourselves in the peace He promises. We are tempted every day to forget that He is with us. To fight the temptation to forget, could we start each day by remembering? Could we remember every day to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ? – as we would a warm luxurious coat.

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