The new self
“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… and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22, 24 NIV)
Back in my high school days, every spring, our school would put on a musical for the community. Those of us involved in the program worked very hard at putting the show together – then performing it for an eager audience (it was so well-done that it was an anticipated event for the whole town).
The thing I remember most was the dress rehearsals. That was when you put on your costume for the first time and , then, acted out your part in the play.
What was most interesting (and most impactful) was that when you actually put on your costume, you just felt different. Your character came alive. Somehow you were transformed from who you were (in your day to day life) into this person whom you were portraying. You felt like him, talked like him, walked across the stage like him. There is a term for this phenomenon: it is called “getting into character.”
In that moment, you moved beyond simply learning and delivering lines of dialogue, into actually becoming somebody else – to perform a role that brought the whole play to life for the audience. And it was all because you simply put on the costume of the character you were portraying.
In our Scriptures of the day, the apostle is inspired to use this same idea.
We have a part to play in this life we live – and we simply have to “get into our character.”
The really good news is that this “new character” is provided for us. But until we take off the old, and put on the new, we will always struggle to be what were intended to be – we will constantly struggle to play our role in the great play of life.
We simply cannot play our new role until we “get into character.”
To act new, you must feel new – and to feel new, you must truly BE new.
Here is where our analogy breaks down (to a degree). In our faith, we are not just “play-acting” or pretending to be something that we are not. The great message of Christinaity is that God has actually made you to BE the new something. But it feels so strange, so NOT like you, that you have to actually set your mind upon the new character that you are now.
The apostle tells us that this is like putting on a costume – but the costume is who you really are.
And how does he describe the new self? It is “created (past tense – a work already accomplished) to be like God in true (actual) righteousness and holiness.” In other words, the new self (your new role) is re-created into the very image of God (as originally intended; see Genesis 1:26-27). Or if that is too difficult to grasp… your new role is to be just like Jesus!
And this is exactly what the Bible has told us: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27 ESV)
And when we put Him on, we are actually able to play the part He has given us to play.
Prayer focus: God, help me to “get into the character” of Jesus so I can impact this world just as He did!