Tuesday, July 1, 2014

WHAT TO WEAR (Romans Chapter 13)

Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

There used to be a show on TV called, “What Not to Wear.”  The premise of the show was to find some poorly attired person who would then be assisted by fashion experts to make drastic alterations to his or her wardrobe.  At the end of the show the now well-attired person would be introduced to his or her family and friends, who would then respond to the dramatic improvement with corresponding amazement and delight.

Spiritually speaking, we live and exist in a “What Not to Wear” reality.  Adam and Eve were the first to experience the trauma of being inappropriately dressed (Cf. Genesis 3:7).  By God’s grace their wardrobe was later upgraded (Cf. Genesis 3:21).  But they have left to us all, in sin, a legacy of being inappropriate attired before our thrice-holy God (Cf. Romans 5:12; Isaiah 6:1-5; Zechariah 3:1-5).

The believer in Christ is one who has experienced a radical change of identity.  By a work of the Spirit of God he has been created anew, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Positionally speaking, the believer is one who even now attired with the very righteousness of Christ (Cf. Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  The command to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” is a command to the believer to live according to his new identity (who he truly is).

The phrase “put on” means to “put on as a garment or to cause to get into a garment.”  It is used here figuratively and speaks not just to external matters, but to intimate identification with Christ in all respects.  The command is to put on practically that which has already been put on positionally (Cf. Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”).  The “put on” terminology is used elsewhere by the Apostle Paul to likewise describe the need to live according to one’s new identity in Christ (Cf. Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10).

The same phrase is used in Luke 15:22, where we find a wonderful illustration of a dramatic change in attire.  In his pursuit of sin the prodigal son ultimately found himself in a most dreadful estate—feeding the pigs and longing after the pig food.  In caring for the pigs he was no doubt smelly and unbearable to be around, his clothes being covered with pig mire and all!  He came to his senses and returned to his father.  His father then saw him, embraced him, and put on him a robe, a ring, and new sandals on his feet.  One would suppose that he was henceforth delighted to have exchanged his noxious smelling garments for new and better ones.  His new garments identified him to be a member of his father’s household and testified to his father’s love.

Kent Hughes once commented on Romans 13:14, “The fact is, we have this new self if we are Christians.  We received the old man at birth, and we were given the new man in our heavenly birth.  The new man is not our work—it is God’s creation and gift.  Our task is not to weave it, but to wear it.  Paul is commanding a daily appropriation of that which we already possess…We have our part to do in dressing ourselves with the divine wardrobe, for here, clothes do make the man—and the woman!  We must daily set aside the rotting garments of the old man.  We must formally reject sensuality and selfish pride and materialism and bitterness.  We must read the Word and ask God to renew our minds through the Spirit.  We must work out our salvation by doing those things that will develop a Biblical mind.  We must put on our new, shining garments of light.  We must put on what we are!”  The appropriate attire for the believer in Christ is Spirit-borne, Christ-like attitudes and actions (Cf. Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:12-14).  By God’s grace, in the Lord Jesus Christ, we’ve been made recipients of an appropriate and glorious wardrobe, all we must do is put Him on.

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