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What the Bible says about Putting on a New Self
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 18:10-13

What is the attraction of Halloween? Are people really into ghouls, spirits, devilry, and monsters? Are Americans really that attracted to the otherworldly theme of the holiday? No, probably not. Polls to the contrary, most Americans do not believe in demonic or even angelic spirits enough to think of Halloween as some kind of celebration of them. The answer lies in the donning of costumes and the consumption of alcohol: Halloween is the year's biggest escape from reality!

The ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (November 1), from which All Saints' Day and All Hallows Eve derive, was a kind of New Years holiday. Along with the days immediately before and after, it was special because the Celts believed that the boundary between this world and the spirit world relaxed or lifted, allowing spirits to cross between them more easily. As this idea terrified superstitious people, they mollified the spirits by leaving out food and treats so that they would not curse them. Some practiced various forms of divination to contact departed loved ones. Druids thought this to be the best time to seek guidance from the dead, and the bards sought otherworldly inspiration for their poetry and song.

Another interesting aspect of Samhain's celebration is that the Celts considered it to take place in "no-time," that is, neither in the old year nor the new. Since this "no-time" was a time to itself, normal laws, order, strictures, and customs were held in abeyance for these three days of merriment. People thus did whatever they pleased.

So, the fool held court as the wise man. The baseborn acted as the noble. The servant became the master. Women dressed as men and vice versa. Farmers turned out their cattle, pigs, and sheep from their pens and pastures, allowing them to roam free. Some entered houses through windows rather than doors. No work was done because it was a time of total abandon: of revelry, feasting, drinking, taking dares, disguising oneself, and pretending to be something one was not. Those three strange days were "chaos time."

Our modern version, Halloween, is a "tame" descendant of this Celtic celebration, and its popularity is rising steadily. Revelers use the holiday as an excuse to escape their mundane, banal, yet stressful lives and "take a walk on the wild side." Laws, customs, mores, and order cease for a short time, as participants indulge themselves in whatever they desire.

Probably most consider it "blowing off steam" or "having a good time," but self-indulgence is sin. Instead of releasing the pressure by coming out of a world conducting its affairs apart from God (Revelation 18:4), celebrants compound their troubles by adding on sin and its destructive consequences.

We have been called to a different life, one in which we "put off" our former corrupt, lustful conduct and "put on" new habits and behaviors that reflect the righteous and holy life of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24). Paul concludes in Ephesians 5:8-12, 15-16:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. . . . See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Halloween Rising

Matthew 22:11-14

The guests do not enter the wedding hall immediately. Those gathered from the highways would be inappropriately clothed, so time is given them to clothe themselves in proper attire provided by the king (Isaiah 64:6; Zechariah 3:3-4). The parable suggests that, not only did the man not have on a wedding garment, but he did so intentionally. He decides against clothing himself properly, even though the appropriate clothing is available. His presence at the wedding is a sign of his rebellion against the king's authority and majesty, symbolized by the feast. When the man realizes his sin against the king's order, he is speechless as his judgment is pronounced.

The wedding garment, conspicuous and distinctive, represents a person's righteousness. It symbolizes the habit of sincerity, repentance, humility, and obedience. It replaces the street clothes that stand for the habits of pride, rebellion, and sinfulness. Biblically, beautiful clothing indicates spiritual character developed by submission to God (Revelation 3:4-5; 19:7-9). Paul exhorts Christians to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" like a garment (Romans 13:14). Clothing, then, represents a Christ-covered life, and as a result, character consistent with God's way of life.

Staff
Is Heaven the Reward of the Saved?

2 Corinthians 7:1

"Let us cleanse ourselves" includes two aspects. First, the negative side involves putting off the carnal characteristics of the kind mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21, the works of the flesh. Second, there is the positive side of putting on godly characteristics, such as judgment, mercy, and faith (which, out of our Savior's own mouth in Matthew 23:23, are weighty matters of law).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Sixteen)

Ephesians 2:10-18

In verse 15, Paul says that God "create[s] in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." The apostle defines what these "two" are in verse 11: "Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh - who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands. . . ." The two, Gentiles and Israelites, share one Spirit in Christ, "who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us" (verse 14). Whether physically Gentile or Israelite, those who have "put on the new man" have one Spirit, God's Holy Spirit.

Charles Whitaker
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)

Colossians 3:8

Paul changes the metaphor to taking off clothing and putting it on. Is it possible that, just by thinking about it, the clothing we now wear will just fall off? We must make an effort to disrobe. On the other hand, we have to choose what clothing we will wear in its place. Then we have to make the effort to put it on.

These things are so clear. Do we see that we cannot just stand still? Growth, in terms of salvation, is not something that just happens because we receive the Spirit of God. It is caused to happen.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Titus 2:11-14

Colossians 3:9-11

Where there is the new man, Paul says, "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all." The new man can be physically a Gentile or an Israelite. To God, it really does not matter, nor should it matter among real Christians.

Charles Whitaker
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)

Colossians 3:10-15

When Paul speaks of putting on the new man here, he gives us several attitudes we need to emulate as followers of Christ. Most of them involve the way we deal with each other because a major part of what God is teaching us has to do with building and solidifying our relationships. As we see in the next few verses, he comments specifically on the husband-wife, parent-child and employer-employee relationships.

Why? Largely, our judgment by our Savior hangs on the quality of our relationships. We should never forget the principle found in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats: "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25:40, 45).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Road Less Traveled

Colossians 3:10-11

Considering these two verses in context, Paul is saying that because the Colossians had undergone the radical transformation of receiving the new nature and being renewed, they should work hard at making practical the salvation Christ made possible. They should do this by ceasing to do the things that separate and starting to do the things that bond. From chapter two, he carries over an underlying assumption that some measure of doctrinal difference is probably exacerbating the unity problem.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 




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