How Do We Put on Christ? #240
Hello friends and happy Lord’s Day to you! This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! As I sit here typing this article, I am eagerly awaiting a delivery of a 3m respirator so I can go outside and do some activities…our air quality here in Salinas is very dangerous right now due to the fires, so we have been staying indoors. Pray for us and pray for each other! Because of the fires, our church is online-only this Sunday, and we meet at VBC salinas on Facebook at 11am Pacific – I’d love it if you joined us! I apologize for those that watched last week – our service was outdoors in 91 degree weather, and our ipad and Mevo camera overheated, which caused terrible audio issues. Hopefully none of that this Sunday. Our Bible readings for the Lord’s Day include 1 Samuel 15, Jeremiah 52, Psalms 31 and Romans 13. Our focus for the day could be whether or not Christians should obey the government, but I just covered that on this podcast a few weeks ago (https://biblereadingpodcast.com/when-must-christians-obey-the-government-and-when-not-masks-202/) and also just this week on a video podcast with my friends Michael and Sam that you can find on my Facebook profile page, or click here. Drawing Lines Podcast on obeying the government.
Our focus passage for today is Romans 13, and is broken into three sections: A. How a Christian should interact with and submit to the government. B. Love as our primary duty as Christians and C. The putting on of Christ, which – I will admit, is a strange expression. We think of putting on clothes, of putting on a hat, of putting on a disguise, putting on armor, or a uniform or something like that – but the idea of putting on a person, and especially putting on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is strange, to say the least. Let’s read the passage, and then discuss it.
12 The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.
We can pretty easily wrap our minds around putting on the armor of light – explained on a deeper level by Paul in Ephesians 6, but the idea of putting on Christ is a little less straightforward. Interestingly, this is not the only place in the Bible where we are told to put on God in some way. I first think of Jesus’ admonition and charge to the disciples in Luke 24:
49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
We realize in Acts 1 and 2 that the Holy Spirit is the one that will come on the disciples and clothe them with power from on high. There is one other passage that I am familiar with that speaks of putting on Christ, and it is in Galatians 3:
For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ
So – what does it mean to have ‘put on’ Christ, or to be ‘clothed’ with Christ? I think Paul gives us a good explanation in both Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4:
22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
I think what we see here is that putting on Christ involves a taking off of the old man – that was crucified with Christ – and a putting on of the new man – that was raised to life with Christ. I love the colorful way that Spurgeon teaches on this topic, so let’s turn the ending of this episode over to him again:
The apostle does not so much say, “Take up the Lord Jesus Christ, and bear Him with you;” but, “ ‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,’ and thus wear Him as the garment of your life.” A man takes up his staff for a journey, or his sword for a battle; but he lays these down again after a while: you are to put on the Lord Jesus as you put on your garment; and thus He is to cover you, and to become part and parcel of your outward appearance, surrounding your very self, as a visible part of your manifest personality.
“Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This we do when we believe in Him: then we put on the Lord Jesus Christ as our robe of righteousness. It is a very beautiful picture of what faith does. Faith finds our manhood naked to its shame; faith sees that Christ Jesus is the robe of righteousness provided for our need; and faith, at the command of the gospel, appropriates Him, and gets the benefit of Him for it. By faith the soul covers her weakness with His strength, her sin with His atonement, her folly with His wisdom, her failure with His triumphs, her death with His life, her wanderings with His constancy. By faith, I say, the soul hides itself within Jesus; till Jesus only is seen, and the man is seen in Him. We take not only His righteousness as being imputed to us, but we take Himself to be really ours; and so His righteousness becomes ours as a matter of fact. “By the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” His righteousness is set to our account, and becomes ours because He is ours. I, though long unrighteous in myself, believe in the testimony of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ, and I am accounted righteous, even as it is written, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” The riches of God in Christ Jesus become mine as I take the Lord Jesus Christ to be everything to me.
But, you see, the text does not distinctly refer to this great matter, for the apostle is not referring to the imputed righteousness of Christ. The text stands in connection with precepts concerning matters of every-day practical life, and to these it must refer. It is not justification, but sanctification that we have here. Moreover, we cannot be said to put on the imputed righteousness of Christ after we have believed, for that is upon us as soon as we believe, and needs no more putting on. The command before us is given to those who have the imputed righteousness of Christ, who are justified, who are accepted in Christ Jesus. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” is a word to you that are saved by Christ, and justified by His righteousness. You are to put on Christ, and keep on putting Him on in the sanctifying of your lives unto your God. You are every day continually more and more to wear as the dress of your lives the character of your Lord….
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” moreover, for the night will soon be over, the morning will soon dawn. The rags of sin, the sordid robes of worldliness, are not fit attire for the heavenly morning. Let us dress for the sun-rising. Let us go forth to meet the dawn with garments of light about us.
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” for He is coming, the Beloved of our souls! Over the hills we hear the trumpet sounding; the heralds are crying aloud, “The Bridegroom cometh! The Bridegroom cometh!” Though He has seemed to tarry, He has been always coming post haste. To-day we hear His chariot-wheels in the distance. Nearer and nearer is His Advent. Let us not sleep as do others. Blessed are they who will be ready for the wedding when the Bridegroom cometh. What is that wedding-dress that shall make us ready? Nothing can make us more fit to meet Christ, and to be with Him in His glory, than for us to put on Christ to-day. If I wear Christ as my dress, I do great honour to Christ as my Bridegroom. If I take Him for my glory and my beauty while I am here, I may be sure that He will be all that and more to me in eternity. If I take pleasure in Jesus here, Jesus will take pleasure in me when He shall meet me in the air, and take me up to dwell with Himself for ever. Put on the wedding-dress, ye beloved of the Lord! Put on the wedding-dress, ye brides of the Lamb, and put it on at once, for behold He cometh! Haste, haste, ye slumbering virgins! Arise, and trim your lamps! Put on your robes, and be ready to behold His glory, and to take part in it. O ye virgin souls, go forth to meet Him; with joy and gladness go forth, wearing Himself as your gorgeous apparel, fit for the daughters of a King. The Lord bless you, for Christ’s sake! Amen.
C. H. Spurgeon, Messages to the Multitude: Being Ten Representative Sermons (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, 1892), 160–161.