Summary: A sermon about Christian sanctification.
Let me ask you this, if you would:
How do you get up in the morning?
Do you have a hard time of it, needing a cup of coffee and a couple hours to get going?
Or do you leap out of bed, bright eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to face the day right away?
Each morning when we get up, we make a decision about what clothing we are going to wear.
Likewise, when we get up we make a decision whether or not to be like Christ, to dress in God’s grace-filled clothing.
We do this deliberately and every day so that our lives reflect the life of Christ.
Several years ago, I was feeling a bit spiritually adrift.
And when a Christian is feeling spiritually adrift, it’s not a “happy place.”
In any event, on New Year’s Eve of that year, I was with a group of family members and people were going around the table making New Year’s Resolutions.
I don’t usually do this…
…not for any particular reason, but I don’t usually do it.
But, that year I did make a resolution.
I said that I was going to resolve to work on my relationship with God, to improve it and to move forward in my walk.
Lo and behold, by the grace of God, I kept that resolution.
And to this day, there is no comparison to where I was then—spiritually—and where I am now.
Intentionality makes a big difference in our Christian lives.
God doesn’t force our hand.
We need to be proactive in our relationship with Christ.
It’s not something that just “happens.”
It involves a lot of choices…
…kind of like, what clothes am I going to wear?
Paul says, in Chapter 2: “You were buried with [Christ] and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead,” and “you died with Christ to the way the world thinks and acts…”
One theologian writes: “This is one of the classic New Testament passages that speak, in effect, of ‘sanctification,’ that is, of the new life that the Holy Spirit works in us” once we have been saved.
Sanctification is a work of grace…a work of God that also involves us.
We participate in it.
And Paul uses the metaphor of clothing to try and get across what our role is.
We lay aside, one coat, shall we say, and we put on another.
We take off one pair of socks and we put on another.
We take off our old self with its anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive language, impurity and so forth and we put on our new nature with its “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
This is a way of talking about a change in our condition…
…A radical change that Christ works in us as we intentionally meet together as Christians, worship, serve others, humble ourselves, forgive, pray, read the Bible, share our faith…
…as we, imitate Christ…
…as we wear Christ as our clothing, taking Him as our model.
Could there be anything better?
Way back in Genesis Chapter 1 we are told that “God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them.”
But of course, that image has been blurred, perverted and distorted due to sin.
We have a broken relationship with our Creator, but through Christ we are being restored in the image of our Creator which makes it possible to live life as it was originally intended to be lived.
Imagine that, you and I, all of us were created in “God’s own…divine image”!!!
And that image is being restored through our daily walk with God as we “take off the old human nature,” like an old filthy rotten set of clothing and “put on the new nature” which is like being dressed in a new wardrobe where everything is custom made by our Creator, with God’s label on it.
As Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” puts it: “for this new life of love, dress in the clothes God has picked out for you.”
Paul says, we are to “be tolerant with each other and…” we are to “forgive each other.”
And in order to do this, we must be humble.
In his biography of “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,” author Eric Metaxas talks about a time when young Bonhoeffer visited a church in Belgium where the folks worshipping were, to quote Bonhoeffer, “almost exclusively…prostitutes and their men.”
Bonhoeffer is quoted to say: “It was an enormously impressive picture, and once again one could see quite clearly how close, precisely through their fate and guilt, these most heavily burdened people are to the heart of the gospel…
…it’s much easier for me to imagine a praying murderer, a praying prostitute, than a vain person praying.