“Put on Christ”
'But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.'--Rom. 13:14.
Autumn is a time of change. The green color of summer gives way to the yellow, red, and browns of autumn. Fruits and nuts are harvested, the days become shorter, and animals prepare for winter.
During autumn there is a lot of food available as seeds and fruits ripen. Animals store up as much food as they can before winter comes. Squirrels collect nuts, mice collect seeds, and jays collect acorns. Animals eat as much as they can in autumn to store up fat reserves in their body before winter. Insects are very active in summer, but they become sluggish during the cooler fall months. Some of the strong fliers, such as butterflies and dragonflies will migrate to warmer climates. Most insects cannot or do not fly to warmer climates. They must find ways of surviving winter where they are. Ladybugs hide in cracks of trees; butterflies will find a woodshed or attic to hide in. Crickets and grasshoppers die before winter comes, but they have already laid their eggs, which will grow into new insects in the spring. Birds are stronger flyers than insects and many of them flee the oncoming winter. It is the scarcity of food and not the cold that affects them most. Insect eating birds must leave their homes in autumn because their food disappears. Many changes occur during autumn. It is a favorite season for many people because of the beautiful colors and pleasant weather. The temperature is getting colder and colder every morning. We now have to put on more clothes and jackets prior to leaving the house for the day. We have to begin to put away our summer clothes and put on our fall clothes. Rarely will you see a person dressed in a tee shirt and shorts in late fall.
By way of illustration, to put on a person, is to assume his character, and peculiarities, as an actor does on the stage. It implies the putting away of selfishness. Christ was not selfish. Selfishness is the preference of self-gratification, to the will of God, and the good of the universe, and Christ never did this. The Apostle adds, 'and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.' Here, he contrasts 'putting on Christ,' and 'making provision for the flesh,' which is the same as selfishness. Paul was more philosophical than any of the sacred writers, and employs the language--'works of the flesh,' 'following after the flesh,' 'carnal mind,' to designate the nature of sin. But the whole Bible condemns self-seeking as wrong, and inconsistent with the true service of God, or imitation of Christ.
You must, therefore, not only fully believe that you can, but you must actually intend to put on Christ--to make Him your whole example. Unless it is intended, it will never be done by accident.
You must be fully prepared to make any sacrifice--you must count the cost, and make up your mind to meet the expense necessary to the accomplishment of this end. You must make any sacrifice of friends, property, or credit, which stand in the way.
Another condition of putting on Christ is, that you commune with Him in prayer without ceasing. You must cease from all self-dependence. So long as you depend on yourself, you will see no need of putting on Christ.
Accordingly, we ask, what does a will or heart look like that has been transformed into Christlikeness? How is it to be characterized? Jesus said of himself, and of course, He is always the pattern, “He who sent me is with Me: He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:29). And Paul had this to say: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
So we have the answer to our question: Single-minded and joyous devotion to God and His will, to what God wants for us, and to service to Him and to others because of Him, is what the will transformed into Christlikeness looks like. That is the outcome of Christian spiritual formation and reference to the will, heart, or spirit. And this outcome becomes our character when it has become the governing response of every dimension of our being. Then we can truly be said to have “put on Christ.”