Happy New You!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22

Happy New You!

No, that's not a typo. You were probably expecting "Happy New Year!" You can add this greeting to the one I've already offered. But, what I really want to offer today is both good news and encouragement. It can be summarized in the phrase: "Happy New You!"

In the fourth chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul summarizes the immoral behavior of the Gentiles, contrasting this with the way of life learned by the recipients of the letter, who had put their faith in Jesus Christ: "You were taught . . . to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires . . . and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (4:22, 24). When we say "yes" to the Gospel, we aren't simply adding some new beliefs or behaviors to our otherwise unchanged lives. Rather, we take off our old self and its lifestyle as if it were a tattered and soiled set of clothes. As we put our faith in Christ, we also put on a new self, a new identity that mirrors the very nature of God.

This act of putting off and putting on happens definitively when we receive God's grace through faith for the first time. Yet, as all Christians know, the old self hasn't completely disappeared. Thus, we must choose to take off the old garment and put on the new as we live each day (see 4:25 as an example).

The verbs "put off" and "put on" could be understood as having to do only with the externals, with what we say and what we do, but not with who we are. To avoid this misunderstanding, Paul adds a something between "put off" and "put on": "to be made new in the attitude of your minds" (4:23). The original Greek verb in this phrase is a present, passive infinitive. The present tense suggests an ongoing experience. When we receive the good news in faith, we are not instantly and fully transformed on the inside. Rather, we begin a lifelong process of renewal. The passive voice implies that we are not the primary agents of our renewal. We are being renewed by God's grace through the activity of the Holy Spirit. We participate in this process through our daily choices, but God is the one who is making us new inside and out.

What does this mean for you today? It means, first of all, that if you are in Christ, then you have been made new by God's grace. You are a new person with a new identity, a new purpose, and a new power. "Happy New You" describes what is already true about you, whether you feel new or not.

Second, Ephesians 4:22-24 also shows us that God is in the process of making us new, completely and truly. Yes, you are new. And, yes, God is renewing you. This is the tension in which we live, the "already and not yet" of life in God's kingdom. The good news is that God is at work in you, bringing to completion that which he has begun in Christ (see Phil. 2:13).

Third, this passage reminds us to be who we are in Christ. Even as we once put off our old self and put on our new self, we are to choose to live into the new each day. At times, we fall back into our old ways of being and doing. But, by God's grace, through the work of his Spirit, we can choose to live as the new person we are in Christ.

So, then, Happy New You! You are a new person in Christ! Rejoice!

Happy New You! God is renewing you each day by his Spirit! Rejoice!

Happy New You! Live today, and tomorrow, and the next day as the new person you are now and are becoming.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you think of your conversion, do the metaphors of "putting off" and "putting on" describe what you experienced? Why or why not? Are there specific behaviors you would like to put off in the new year? Are there specific behaviors you would like to put on? Are you open to the renewing work of God's Spirit in your inner being?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for your work of renewal in me. Thank you for the fact that I am new in Christ, having put off my old self and put on my new self. Thank you for the fact that you are at work in me, making me new from the inside out.

When I fall back into the ways of my old self, deliver me, Lord. Help me to choose to put off those ways. Ignite within me a desire for the new life, the life you offer in Christ. Continue, I pray, your work of renewing my inner being, so that I might be more and more like you.

All praise be to you, O God, Father, Son, and Spirit, because you are making all things new, including me! Amen.