Before we put on the full armor of God, we need to put on Christ. Mark Twain said “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” While dress clothes are seldom worn these days, we still notice a man who is well dressed. People will also take note of a man who is strong and gentle at the same time. And it’s this characteristic that makes our impression of a man last.
So how do we put on clothes that represent Jesus and create a memory that lasts. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he shows how a man can put on Christ. Although the following verses seem to imply to some that the external view of a person still matters; it is the internal character of a man that defines him in God’s eyes.
(Romans 6:1-4 WEB) 1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2By no means: how shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
All human beings are born with sin nature. It’s this nature that is buried with Christ in Baptism. And when Christianity is viewed from a non-believers point of view it seems counter-intuitive. Even Christians struggle to understand God’s precepts because they too were born with the same sin nature. But God promises to clean us up if we give ourselves over to Him.
That’s why the symbolism of Baptism by immersion is so important. When a person comes to believe they should make the confession that they believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Baptism is far more than just fire insurance. It is a serious commitment to a new life. That is why the confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior is so important. We die to the old self by identifying with the death of Jesus. Then when we are raised out of the water, we identify with a new life.
(Rom 6:5-8 WEB) 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: 6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin may be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Notice the word “planted”. A seed must die before the plant can sprout. So it is with us. And if we do not water the plant with the Word of God and look for strength from the Holy Spirit, the plant, namely ourselves, will not grow. Being a “church member” is not going to advance our personal growth. A maturing Christian man puts his relationship with Jesus as his highest priority.
And in this case it is the character of a Christian man that people will notice first. Not only is the heart and mind of a man changed, but he can also see what’s in the mind and heart of another man. The world looks at people from the outside, but the spiritually mature man will look at others from the inside.
In all of this the man is not left out in the cold, but is blessed with the internal presence of the “Comforter” also called the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God now gives direction and comfort to the new believer.
(Matthew 5:3-9 WEB) 3Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6Blessed [are] they who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9Blessed [are] the peace-makers: for they shall be called children of God.
Also a part of the Beatitudes these verses are perhaps the most counter-intuitive of all. But they are also the easiest to demonstrate. The proof is simply to read the stories of missionaries that face violent persecution.
(Matthew 5:10-12 WEB) 10Blessed [are] they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
If we are clothed in Christ we will share our good news and be able to tell about our struggles and success following the Beatitudes. Non-believers are not interested in perfect Christians, but Christians that are real and willing to let them into the stories of their own lives.
(Matthew 5:13-16 WEB) 13Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt hath lost its savor, with what shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot by men. 14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a close vessel, but on a candlestick: and it giveth light to all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Look at our lives:
- our time
- our money
- our church involvement
- our level of forgiveness
- our level of joy versus happiness
- our marriage
- our family
- our friends
- our witnessing
- (fill in the blanks)
Are we being clothed in Jesus? Our we His disciples? Have we added to the kingdom of God? Are our families being blessed by us?