It is exciting to watch a beautiful butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. It is a process of change, not simply in appearance, but also in habit and behaviour. Similarly, the evidence that someone is born again is that they are radically changed. That change is a direct shift from their way to God’s way. Jesus Christ becomes their Saviour and their Lord, the first in their life. They have surrendered to Him.
Recently, when I was teaching on “How to pray for someone near to you who is not a believer”, and concluded by saying that for my prayers to be answered I must surrender all to Jesus, I was very surprised that hardly anyone there felt that they could surrender all to Jesus. Most people had a fear of doing this because they thought God might ask them to do something they didn’t want to do. It is one thing to know biblical text, but a completely different thing for the reality of truth to be in our heart.
When Jesus prayed, He always addressed God as Father, and He taught His disciples to do the same. We are taught to completely trust this Father, for He desires the best for each of His children. He is gracious and compassionate, and promises never to leave or forsake us. The enemy can use negative views of an earthly father to make us doubt our heavenly Father.
The beginning of the Christian life is to begin the walk of sanctification, which literally means to be set apart for special use or purpose, and the process of being made increasingly like Jesus and surrendered to Him. The Bible verses for today tell us that this begins with putting off our old self and putting on our new self. The image is of taking off a filthy old garment, which is to be discarded, and replacing it with a beautiful new one, which is to be worn permanently. All the changes become fairly obvious, because they are to do with relationships – our relationship with God and with one another.
To live this life in true righteousness and holiness we must be genuine – living our lives as open books, because truth and love have replaced falsehood and bitterness. We have to put off falsehood and always speak truthfully. This means no people pleasing, no half-truths, no saying what we think people want to hear, and no double-mindedness. In the context of the scripture verses above, falsehood is living a lie. We live in godless days, where everyone does what is right in their own eyes, but those truly surrendered to Jesus do what is right in His eyes and always speak the truth, whatever the consequences.
Another mark of the old nature which we must put off is anger. Whatever the cause of our anger, we are told not to go to bed at night until we have put wrongs right. In other words, make sure you forgive the person you feel has wronged you, because, like you, they are answerable to God. Anger not dealt with at the cross will breed resentment and even bitterness, and will give the devil opportunity to get a foothold into your life.
In the early hours of one New Year’s day, two alcoholics hammered on our front door demanding that we let them into the house. We ignored them, but the noise became louder, so we went downstairs to try to calm them. Foolishly, we opened the door very slightly, just enough for one of them to get a foot inside, which made way for both of them to get inside our home. We couldn’t get them out, and our only option was to get the police. Only Jesus can free us from the effect of footholds we may have given to the enemy.
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