I’ve always found the idea of “Put on the new self” a difficult one to illustrate in a compelling way.
21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Rags to Riches
In my most recent dive into Ephesians 4 I used the idea of Rags to Riches stories. There are heaps of examples: Cinderella, Slumdog Millionaire, the homeless man with the Golden voice. I went with Chris Gardner who is portrayed by Will Smith in the movie adaption of his life: The Pursuit of Happiness.
Chris was living on the streets with his kid. In the movie he is even forced to sleep in a public toilet with his son. He keeps grinding until he could get an education and get a job and he is now a CEO.
See this is what I think Paul is getting at. Throw off your RAGS (sin) and put on your RICHES (the new self, free from sin and shame, bound to eternal life). It’s a really simple idea when you think about it. Throw off your rags, put on your riches.
One of the key things I wanted to communicate was that, in every rags to riches story the person who receives their riches doesn’t go back to rags. Cinderella doesn’t marry the prince and then go back to her dusty old clothes. Chris Gardner doesn’t become the CEO of a major corporation and then goes to spent the night sleeping in a public toilet again. When you receive your riches, you don’t go back to your rags.
That is what Paul is getting at. When we receive the gift of grace through Jesus we aren’t supposed to then return to our old sinful ways. We are to live as people who have been given eternal riches.
To illustrate this visually I destroyed one of my old t-shirts. I put BBQ sauce all over it and cut holes in it. These were my rags. Then I brought out the fanciest piece of clothing I owned. For me it was my Indian Achkin (my fiancé is Indian and so I had a pretty fancy outfit I wore to our Sangeet). I think the illustration would work equally as well with a nice suit or dress.