I was at a wedding where I was the pastor who was officiating. While adjusting my clothing just before the before the ceremony, I had noticed that the dress pants that I was wearing were getting tighter; which was strange because they had fit fine the week before.
Rationalizing to myself that I must had put on some extra weight during the past week, I sucked in my belly, cinched up my belt, and continued with my preparations.
About ten minutes later, I decided to use the bathroom one more time before I made my way up to the front for the ceremony.
While unzipping my pants, I noticed that I had on (what appeared to be) an extra pair of shorts. I quickly made my way into one of the stalls and removed my dress pants and confirmed my suspicions. I had on a pair of gym shorts!
I removed them, put on the pair of dress pants, and zipped them up. I noticed that the belt was actually one notch smaller.
I made my way to Cathy and handed her the gym shorts and asked her if she could put them in her purse because I needed to start the ceremony.
But, because her puzzled look demanded an explanation, I took the time to explain.
You see, whenever I get dressed for an event such as wedding, funeral, or some other situation at which I will be wearing dress pants, suit, shirt, and a tie, I tend to get hot because of all of the running around. Don't ask me why or else I will go a bunny trail.
My solution has been to wear a pair of gym shorts so that my core temperature stays a bit cooler as I prepare. Then, just before leaving the house, I (usually) take off the gym shorts BEFORE I put on a pair of dress pants. When I arrive at my destination, then I put on the suit coat.
I say "usually" because on this particular day (obviously) I didn't. I had actually forgotten to take off the gym shorts before putting on the dress pants.
Cathy laughed until tears came out her eyes and I made my way to the awaiting wedding party to start processional.
To be fully honest and forthright, it is bad enough that I did this once; but I did this twice...at two different weddings!!!
The second time made Cathy laugh even more.
The Apostle Paul was addressing this same situation several times in his writings to the young Christian churches. Paul actually had to tell his congregants that they needed to "put OFF" before they "put ON"
One section of scripture where Paul address putting off and putting on is Ephesians 4:20-24
One wouldn't think that you would need to explain this, but for some reason people (particularly guys) seem to have a hard time letting go of the old and taking the new.
Men, although they like getting new things, tend to keep clothing WAY PAST the expiration date. Be honest with me guys; when you received a new shirt this past Christmas or Father's Day, did you throw out the old stuff?
We wear clothing WAY past its expiration date! Clothing that is stained, stretched, torn, faded, and no matter how many times it is washed, it still smell like an old piece of clothing.
A simple explanation for why we don't remove the old first is because the old fits us and we feel comfortable in it.
Another reason is that we don't want to be in the place of old and new because we are naked and vulnerable.
But Paul is telling us that we need to remove the old in order that the new fits better and is closer to the heart. We MUST remove and put away the old in order to be adorned in what the Lord wants us to wear.
“TAKE THEM OFF!” Paul is saying; “YOU CAN’T WEAR TWO PAIRS OR PANTS AT THE SAME TIME!”
“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)
Paul is appealing to the church in Ephesus to leave their old way of life and come to Jesus and make Him the Lord of their lives.
Paul is talking about conduct, attitudes, lusts, behaviors, addictions, etc.
Paul is urging them to be done with their former life as he says; “Put off your old life like you would put off an old pair of pants. And then, clothe yourself in a new way to conduct yourself”.
In other words, put off your old sinful life and put on the righteousness and holiness that comes from a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ.
As I said earlier, this transition is harder that we first think. It involves being naked and transparent and vulnerable.
But the good news is that there is someone who wants to assist us with the process; in fact He literally paid a price to help you transition from the old to the new. His name is Jesus.
All He is asking is for you to acknowledge that the old stuff is wrong and it needs to go (confession: which means to agree with what God calls sin)
And allow Him to do the work; with you cooperating with the process.
Tired of the old clothing that doesn’t quite fit? Call out to the Father through Jesus Christ and let Him make great changes to your life.
Paul wrote to another church:
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)
All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.