We have taken off the old self. We now stand naked before our Creator. We must be remade beloved. We cannot merely sweep the old ways away. We cannot merely take a dustpan to our mind and put things in some semblance of order. I like to joke that men clean by putting things back where they belong and women use chemicals and cleaning agents. Under that analogy, we cannot clean our mind like a man. We need to really wash ourselves in the blood of Christ. Matthew Henry describes this as follows:
The house is swept, but it is not washed; the heart is not made holy. Sweeping takes off only the loose dirt, while the sin that besets the sinner, the beloved sin, is untouched. The house is garnished with common gifts and graces. It is not furnished with any true grace; it is all paint and varnish, not real nor lasting. It was never given up to Christ, nor dwelt in by the Spirit.
Never given up to Christ. Never dwelt in by the Spirit. Back to our example of the visitor in the seeker friendly church. Still clothed in their former manner of life, they may take a broom to themselves. They may make the effort to play the part. They will learn the lingo. When to shout hallelujah and when to mournfully cry amen. The loose dirt may be removed to give the appearance of piety but the beloved sins that beset them were never removed. They remain tucked away in the pockets of the former self they still cling to. Never given up to Christ, it is all paint and varnish. The proverbial whitewashed tombs Christ spoke of. Nice and clean on the outside but on the inside full of dead man's bones.
The third step from the key verses is we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. We now see the whole process. We must take off the old self; our former manner of life that was corrupting us through lying desires. We then must renew our minds by a thorough cleaning of who we once were. We do not want the world rushing back in with seven more spirits. We must do more than sweep and pretend it is clean. Only then can we put on the new self. Notice that this new self is created after the image of God Himself. It isn't corrupted by the world. What is the likeness we seek after? True righteousness and holiness. Not the swept clean veneer. Not the tidied up mind but the renewed mind. Not paint and varnish but the true righteousness and holiness found only in God through His Word.
So what is the end result? Let us walk with that visitor one more time. When they approach the altar there has been no discussion about their sinful state. No discussion about how their old manner of self is inherently evil down to his blackened heart. That he is living in utter futility and darkness. That those secret desires he has, which we all have, are actually lying him right into hell. So he buttons up the jacket of his old self and approaches the altar. He is led, spoon fed actually, a three sentence prayer he cannot possibly mean because even if it is vaguely Biblical, none of it was addressed in the message! No discussion of sin, repentance, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Just puppies and rainbows and let's invite Jesus into your heart. That is not only bad theology - it is false theology. No one in the Bible ever invited Jesus into their hearts beloved. People realized the tremendous weight of their sin and repented; believing unto the only one who could save them - Jesus Christ.
Stage two is never accomplished. Sure they will sweep the place clean. They will put things back where they are supposed to be. They will organize their old manner of life from their new church life. They are not stupid. They know they cannot mix the two. They may feel a bit hypocritical but hey - who isn't in the church! All they have to do is look around them to see that! Besides, it makes the wife happy and I get home on time to watch football so, no big deal. They enter stage three and try to put on their new self over their old clothes. They are now a double clothed Christian. On the outside, all the appearances of piety. Attending church, being baptized, becoming a member, tithing correctly, and serving in a ministry. They polish up their new clothes whenever they set out to church. Suit crisp. Hair neat. Blessed and highly favored they are! But underneath they have never renewed their mind. They are still wearing the clothes from their former manner of life. The truth is they never really left that life. They just added their new set of clothes to their wardrobe. Why would they change? They were never challenged to. They are now assured of eternal life by a man no better equipped to divide the Word of Truth than Mickey Mouse. But they serve. They are told they have discovered their purpose - hallelujah pass the offering plate. Five years, ten years, forty years later their life is required of them and they stand before Christ. They have two sets of clothes and a depraved mind. Jesus says He never knew him. He goes off into eternal punishment, something else his pastor never preached about. Beloved; there is a price to be paid for engaging in superficial Christianity. Don't you think for a moment that there is not. All I have is one questions for you today. How many sets of clothes do you have?
Reverend Anthony Wade - June 5, 2014