SUMMER PODCAST REBOOT – this episode was originally published in Advent 2019, on the day of the General Election.
It is Thursday 12th December.
So many words have been written about the importance and significance of this day. So many words have been spoken promising us this policy or another, and tomorrow yet more words will be written and spoken in victory, in defeat and in the analysis of it all.
And so today I want to focus on just 2 words.
Ephesians Chapter 6 vs11 says we should “put on the full armour of God.”
These are two small words but the imagery that they create is incredibly powerful.
Taking them back to basics, if we didn’t put anything on, then we would be naked.
And this is actually how God made us to be.
Now before you think I am suggesting that we all adopt a naturist lifestyle…….just stay with me as we go back to Genesis……
In Genesis 2 vs25 it says, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
And they weren’t even naked in the sense that you and I would understand, because after Adam and Eve sinned only then, in Genesis Chapter 3, does God make garments of skin for them and clothe them.
So, when God created man and woman his intention was that we would put on nothing else, other than our identity as children of God, made in his own image. That was to be the only thing that people saw as they looked at one another – the holiness, splendour, majesty and glory of God reflected back at them.
What an amazing picture of how we are meant to be – made in the image of God, with nothing else put on to hide that.
But we know that this is not the way things stayed, and Adam and Eve put on all sorts of things that marred and damaged their image.
After they ate the fruit, they looked at their bodies and were ashamed. They tried to cover up and hide the sin and guilt that the Devil had put on them.
And so from that point on men and women have put on all sorts of things that hide, cover up and damage the image of God that is intended to radiate out from them.
We put on shame, envy and anger, we put on unhealthy, distorted views about body image; we spend a fortune putting on clothes that portray a certain image. We damage our bodies through drinking, smoking and self harm.
We put on the attitudes and the actions of the world to such an extent that rather than reflecting the glory of God, we have covered this up so much, that our lives are lived in darkness.
But this is not the end of the story.
Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet wrote, “My soul shall exalt my God, for he has clothed me with garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
There is hope. And that hope comes in Jesus.
All the way through the New Testament letters we see these 2 little words – put on – used to describe the new life that Christ claimed for us through his death on the cross. He was stripped, his body was battered and broken; he put on all our sin and shame in order that we could be clothed in righteousness; and that we could put on a new image that once more reflected the handiwork of our Creator.
Check out Colossians Chapter 3 and Romans Chapter 13, or re-read Ephesians Chapter 4 vs24, which says:
“Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
However, to put on Christ, requires us to take off the robes of darkness that we have clothed ourselves in. It’s where we started in Monday’s podcast – we need to rip off the covers.
We can’t put on new clothes until we have taken off the ones we are wearing. We can’t put on our new life with Christ, until we have taken off the old life.
I don’t know whether you have ever had to teach a child to get dressed, to put a coat on, or put their shoes on. In my experience kids always seem very quick to take things off, normally when you don’t want them to, but are inordinately slow at putting them on…..normally when you are in a hurry!
However when it comes to our old life and old habits, the opposite tends to be true. It can be really hard to take them off, it can make us feel vulnerable and exposed. And putting on the new life of Christ can take time and discipline. Plus for some of us the old robes of darkness are like a favourite jumper, or pair of jeans – they are just so comfortable, we are so used to them. It is just so easy to put them back on.
However, God knew that putting off and keeping off our old self would be difficult, and therefore he gave us something else to put on……armour!
There is a lot we can unpack from these verses, but the simplest image is this: if you put on armour every day, there is no way that favourite old jumper or pair of jeans can be put on as well. They just won’t fit over it.
The Devil wants us to put our old life back on; but, when we put on God’s armour, we can stand in front of him and say, “Those clothes you want me to wear don’t fit the new image that Christ has given me. I’m only putting on things that reflect the holiness, the splendour, the glory and the majesty of God. That’s what I’m going to be clothed in from now onwards.”
Where do we need to take off our old self?
Where do we need to put on our new self, our new Christ-like identity, and the new image that reflects our Creator?
And have we put on the armour of God?
Two small, but powerful, words – Put on.
Let the words of Isaiah be our prayer today,
My soul shall exalt my God, for he has clothed me with garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.