And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God, has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:24 NASB
Insecure in my relationship with God, I understood He loved me, but my understanding of His love was inadequate. My youth and adult years were plagued by times of excruciating emotional and spiritual pain. I struggled with oppressive condemnation for nebulous sins and terrifying doubts about God’s existence, fearing if I messed up one too many times, I was toast—unworthy of heaven and salvation. That’s if I didn’t die first and go to hell for my doubts.
Sounds sad, eh?
I was familiar with the prophet Isaiah who declared our own righteousness is like filthy rags. The filthy rags refer to the cloths women wore during their menstrual cycles—rags that were washed and reused. The picture gave me a pretty good idea of God’s opinion of our self-righteousness.
Even though this verse refers to our own efforts to earn salvation and gain God’s approval while rejecting Christ’s shed blood, I looked at good works performed after salvation as just more spiritual brownie points. Even now, I find myself approaching my daily prayer and Bible reading times with a mindset that says, “If I pray for at least a half-hour and read at least one chapter in the Bible, God will chalk one more up for me.”
Several years ago, God said, “Cheryl, your personal righteousness is still like filthy rags.” I could contribute nothing to my salvation but unfettered trust in the righteousness of Christ.
Paul talked about putting on the new self and he reminded us that “new self was in the likeness of God.” What an amazing truth. My righteousness is created through Him.
Regardless of what I do, I can never score enough points, but through Christ … by putting on my new self … I am righteous in Him. I attempted to climb the ladder of salvation by being good enough apart from Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. No amount of good deeds can balance out the bad.
When I yielded my life to Christ, forsook my sins, and let Him wash me in His blood, I exchanged my status as a subject of God’s wrath for the status of righteousness in Christ Jesus alone. He gave me a new, transformed self to “put on.” Though I still often struggle, I am becoming more secure in His unconditional love for me.
Put on the new self and let God dress you in His righteousness.
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