“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.” (Colossians 3:10 NLT)
While how we feel and act are not the only ways to recognize that our hearts, minds, and lives have begun to change, our new life in Jesus should bear evidence of the Spirit’s presence within us soon after our coming to Christ. Depending on how we lived before beginning our walk with Jesus, there should be noticeable differences in our behavior, our habits, our attitude, our demeaner, our thoughts, our priorities, and how we treat others.
In the verses preceding verse 10 above, Paul points to some specific areas of our lives that should immediately draw our attention. He writes in verses 5-9: “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.”
What’s his point? If we’ve received Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord, He has given us a new life, which carries with it a new responsibility to move in directions in our life that are pleasing to Him. So, we must start living in such a way that others can see and know we’re changing for the better. Are we instantaneously transformed by God’s Sprit? Yes, and no. Yes, in the sense that when we open our heart and life to Jesus, we get all of Him. But no, in the sense that He very likely doesn’t yet have all of us.
I’ve been living for Jesus for nearly 60 years, but He’s still pointing out things that are displeasing and that He desires me to change. For example, He’s continually reminding me to keep my attitude in check when my precious wife points out something that I do or have done that I shouldn’t have. I’m learning that one of God’s primary ways of pointing out areas of needed change is through those who are closest to us. Why is that?
Because they know us best and, usually, love us most. I’m trying to not respond negatively when those I know well point out things that irritate them or distract them from seeing Jesus in me. I have to believe the Lord is prompting them to say those things that will enable me to grow in my intimacy with Him.
Putting on the new self and growing in our likeness of Jesus is a life-long process. The new person God has in mind for us to become is a work in progress as long as we’re residents of this planet, but having said that, it’s something that requires our constant effort. But how? How do we most effectively learn to grow and mature in Christ?
Jerry Bridges wrote: “It is impossible to practice godliness without a constant, consistent, and balanced intake of the Word of God in our lives.” I mention it a lot because it’s so important, but our progress and growth in our walk with the Lord is largely dependent upon the development of godly disciplines. Things like reading and studying God’s Word, praying regularly and often throughout each day, maintaining community with a local fellowship of believers, being a part of a small group, building friendships with a few men, if you’re a man, or women, if you’re a woman, with whom you can be absolutely open and honest about what’s going on in your life. Also, finding an area where you can invest time and money in serving the Lord, volunteering in or through your church and community.
Ultimately, only you and the Lord know for sure whether the “new” has come in your life. If there’s any question, now is the time to seek the Lord with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Don’t put it off another second. Call your pastor or close, Christ-honoring friend, and seek their counsel and guidance in knowing with certainty you’re living in a manner that’s pleasing to Jesus.
Blessings, Ed 😊