“As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on [clothe yourselves with] a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Col 3:12). In both Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3, the apostle Paul tells us more than once to “put on” the new self along with its character attributes, and to “throw off” the old self with its sinful traits. We often view lists of character traits to aspire to and those to avoid as somehow equal choices for the believer. But based on the promises of Scripture, this is not the case.
The bad choices we face are not equals that we have to drum up the moral energy to resist. They are simply clothes that do not fit our new identity. They are clothes that don’t fit who we have become and should be tossed from the closet. You know that shirt you still have from high school. Stop wearing it! It doesn’t fit! Throw it out!
It is the same with sin. Like clothes that are too baggy, too tight, too misshapen, or too small, sin does not fit your new shape as a believer. The clothes of “immorality, impurity, evil desire, greed, idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lying” (Col 3:5,8,9) do not fit you anymore. In fact, Paul ends verse 9 with “since you laid aside (past tense) the old self with its evil practices.” Clean out the closet. Throw the old sin clothes away. Start wearing clothes that fit; “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love” (Col 3:12-14).
Not only do the clothes of sin not fit the believer, but they are woefully out of date. “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (I Pet 4:3). In other words, the time for sin is past. Sin that “fits” is long gone in the rear view mirror.
So go ahead. Clean out the closet. Get rid of those dated and ill-fitting threads and step into the clothes that fit. They are not just clothes to aspire to, but at your core, are a picture of who you have become.