One of the principles of Christian growth could be called the “put off and put on” principle. We read in Ephesians 4:22-24 where Paul says: “22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness
.” Behind the principle lies the fact that there are always sinful attitudes and actions we need to put off, and there are always positive traits of righteousness we need to put on more firmly.

The Holy Spirit through the apostle does not want us to miss the importance of putting on Christ and putting off self. It is a spiritual practice that calls us to exchange our old, selfish nature for the likeness of Christ. The old self before we can fully understand the beauty of putting on Christ, we must first recognize the nature of our old self. The Bible describes this old self as being bound by sin, selfish desires, and a separation from God. It's a self-centered existence that only leads to dissatisfaction, emptiness, and brokenness.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, wrote about this old self: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Romans 7:18). It's a condition familiar to all of us—a struggle between our innate sinful nature and the desire to do what is right .Putting off self to put “put off self” is to surrender. This means letting go of our old ways, our sinful desires, and our self-centered tendencies. It's acknowledging our need for change and our inability to overcome our sinful nature on our own. As the Apostle Paul advises in Colossians 3:5, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Putting off self is a daily decision.

It requires us to surrender our will to God’s will, allowing Him to purify us from within. It means confessing our sins, seeking forgiveness, and turning away from our old habits. When we make the conscious effort to put off self, we create space in our hearts for Christ to take His rightful place. Putting on Christ to "put on Christ" is a transformational process that’s beautifully described in Galatians 2:20 : "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." So, putting on Christ is not just an outward change in behavior; it is an inward transformation of our character.

It means allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us, molding us into the likeness of Christ. It means adopting His values, His love, His compassion, and His humility. To put on Christ is to strive to live as He lived—to love unconditionally, to serve sacrificially, and to seek God's will above all else. It’s a lifelong pursuit of righteousness, holiness, and a deepening relationship with God.

The renewed mind is central to the process of putting on Christ is the renewal of our minds. Romans 12:2  instructs us, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Our old mind shaped our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. When we put on Christ, we allow His Word to transform our thinking. We fill our minds with the truths of Scripture, meditate on His teachings, and seek His wisdom in all our decisions. A renewed mind helps us see the world through Christ's eyes.

It enables us to respond to challenges with faith instead of fear, love instead of anger, and grace instead of judgment. It empowers us to live in the fullness of God's purpose for our lives. The fruit of putting on Christ As we put on Christ and put off self, we begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23 : "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." These qualities become evident in our lives as we “walk in the Spirit” each day.

We love others unconditionally, finding joy in serving them. We experience a deep sense of peace that transcends circumstances. Patience and kindness flow from us, and our actions reflect goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. Self-control guides our decisions and actions. Putting on Christ is a daily commitment to surrender our old, sinful nature and allow Christ to shine through us. It's an invitation for us to live with renewed minds, and to bear the fruit of the Spirit. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” (Colossians 3:5-10)

Credit: Ron Kelley

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