Accepting Lord Jesus as the Savior, delivers us from the clutches of Satan through forgiveness of our sins and without this neither is there salvation nor peace. In Him we find answers to every problem for He blesses us with a Guide and Helper in the Holy Spirit. It is necessary to develop a close personal relationship with the Lord through oneness with Him and “put Him on” as putting on a shirt. In this way then His light shines brightly in us to help in fully getting rid of the darkness of sin within and without.
What is “putting on Lord Jesus? – With the indwelling Holy Spirit we already have a close relationship with us but Apostle Paul gives this different command to the believers. Moses after receiving the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed by God on them came down from Mount Sinai to find the Israelite camp in a uproar with people indulging in sinful activities. Moses berates his brother Aaron for making the golden calf and thus exposing the people to become vulnerable from the enemies in their ‘nakedness’. The Hebrew word translated as ‘unrestrained’ is “para” meaning naked or without protection (Exodus 32:25-26). Aaron’s golden calf led the Israelites out of God’s protection to rende them vulnerable to their enemies.
After their disobedience Adam replied to God “I heard You moving in the Garden and I was afraid for I am naked”. Surprisingly he was n ot ashamed for being naked but rather expressed his fear and God provided them with garments as covering (Genesis 3:10; 21). The spoken fear was not of God but of their own state of changed psychological perspective of self determination. They were afraid of themselves, of forces unleashed within themselves – their instincts, desires, feelings and changed capability to act contrary to what is right. The fall is about enemy identification – serpent or the devil is not the ultimate enemy but the enemy is lurking within us desiring to follow self rather than God. The serpent comes within us from outside to give us animal instincts to make us like animals.
Apostle Peter warns “Our adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) for he cannot attack everyone, only the vulnerable ones. This defenselessness resulted from death due to separation from God (Genesis 2:17) and darkness that was separated from light not only entered us but completely overwhelmed us. The Son of God came to restore all that was lost by us for “In Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). The darkness of sin and evil rules over mankind from within through thoughts and desires to lead us astray and from without through manifested visible temptations causing lustful desires, envy and fear.
This darkness could not affect Lord Jesus for ‘He was light’ and darkness fled from Him. “The god of this world (Satan) has blinded their minds” (2 Corinthians 4:4) for the unbelievers are unable to comprehend the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel. In our fallen state the forces of darkness that surround us start blinding our eyes and then the minds to reality. Apostle Paul showed us the way to defeat the enemy by putting on the ‘Armor of God’ having five weapons of defense and one ‘sword of the Spirit – the Word of God’ for attack. The shield of faith is available to protect ourselves from the ‘fiery darts of the enemy by quenching them’ (Ephesians 6:13-18). Every defensive protection is vulnerable to penetration by the enemy and attack is considered the best form of defense.
Behind this protective shield, we overcome our sinful desires, thoughts and fears through the Spirit of God for He is a Spirit of ‘love, power and self control’ (2 Timothy 1:7). Love of God in us helps us reach out to others to form a team of warriors and His power builds us in strength to attack evil forces and self control helps us to resist the lies of the devil and remain steadfast in God’s love. But we still need protection from external temptations and threats. Putting on Lord Jesus is to be like Him and fight to overcome the forces of darkness and be victorious in Him.
What changes within a true believer? – Putting on is an external act and whatever is worn becomes a part of us revealing what we want to present. We put on good formal clothes for an interview to create a good first impression and also gain confidence. We desire to use our outer visible self, including clothes to represent our true self while hiding behind this façade. Putting on Lord Jesus is to make His traits as our own and to become one with Him living in His ways for people read us through our conduct. In Ludhiana industry a Christian CEO has been directed by the owner to give preference in employment to believers for their honesty, faithfulness and hard work.
God’s love for us is seen in the sacrifice of Lord Jesus on the cross and we also must be ready to lay down our lives for our brethren (1John 3:16). Car bumper stickers must reflect our inner being and not become just a statement. John the Baptist summed it up “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30) till only He and His life is lived through Him, obeying His will and living for Him and like Him. Then that life becomes my cross to bear.
Prophet Isaiah declared this about Lord Jesus and the same was quoted by Him in Nazareth – “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61:1-3). When I am in oneness with Him the same is expected of me.
Some Biblical instances to understand the real meaning – The whole concept as given by Apostle Paul can be better understood from the illustrations/parables on the subject in the Scripture. The first is about the banquet for the king’s son’s marriage and invitees making various excuses at the final call forcing the king to send his servant on to the highway to invite travelers. Since the travelers cannot be expected to carry proper clothes to present themselves before the king, adequate clothes would be provided. However the king finds one person among the invitees to be improperly dressed refusing to let go of his old self and put on the king’s righteousness, forcing the king to have him removed (Matthew 22:1-14).
Joshua, the High Priest, is accused by Satan for his sinful ways but God commands His angel to remove ‘his filthy garments’, thereby absolving and cleansing him of his past sins (Zechariah 3:1-4).The change of garments depicts God’s righteousness replacing pride, rebellion and sinfulness of the world. Putting on Lord Jesus is like putting on the righteousness of God representing a Christ covered life and character consistent with Lord Jesus’ way of life.
The second is the episode of washing of feet of the disciples by the Lord Jesus while Apostle Peter declines the blessing to be rebuked that without this “you have no part with Me” (John 13:1-11). The ceremony symbolized forgiveness of sins to lead them into a clean and personal relationship with God and without this there could be no connection per se. Lord’s Prayer is clear on the point of forgiveness “Forgive us our sins as we forgive others”, nothing more and nothing less. Thus if we do not forgive others we also cannot expect and seek forgiveness from God. As Moses was given the Law on Mount Sinai, Lord Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, declaring the definite commands for His followers. Thus “if you forgive men their sins your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:12; 14-15). Lord Jesus offered unlimited forgiveness to us, even without our asking, through the command of “forgiving seventy times seven” instead of only seven times as earlier understood (Matthew 18:21-22).
The Savior followed His own words fully and despite being subjected to such cruelty and crucifixion by the Chief Priests and Jewish elders He prayed for them also on the cross. “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do” is the grand climax of forgiveness and this forgives is open ended, extending into the future also (Luke 23:34). The Apostles then carried this forward by preaching the message of salvation through Lord Jesus to the Priests, captains of the Temple and the Sadducees (Acts 4:12). Our baptism into Lord Jesus amounts to putting Him on while removing carnal desires of ego, envy and lusts of the flesh (Galatians 3:27).
The third is about cleansing ourselves and this process has two aspects (2 Corinthians 7:1). The first part is getting rid of the negative character traits and the second part is of deliberate act of living and displaying godly traits of mercy and faith through bearing fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:19-21 & 22). In this manner “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, putting on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24). Greek word ‘enduo’, translated as ‘put on’, means to put on or sink into what is being put on and we thus sink into the persona of the Lord while letting go our own. We sink into the Lord at baptism and He, established in us through the Holy Spirit, reconciling us to God and then ‘neither there is Jew nor Gentile’ for all become one in Lord Jesus.
This ‘new self’ that we put on/sink into gets nurtured and firmly established through our daily living in the Word, surrounding us all around in oneness with Him. It is the same stated by Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). When we are united with Him, He transforms us to perfection, for then He confirms, “I in them, and you in Me; that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23). Apostle Paul echoes the same thought when he says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
But is such unity possible? In a brick wall all the bricks are attached, adjacent to and connected to each other, yet they are not one. However, if water contained in two vessels is poured into a larger vessel, it cannot be separated – that is oneness in each other. It is complete merger, comingling of minds and none of us has that. Apostle Paul desires this existence when he advises, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Lord Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
Thus putting on Lord Jesus would be nourishing the ‘new man; through renewing of minds while submitting to Him completely to be in union with Him – to become indistinguishable from Him. Putting on is about dressing up, or assuming His office, manner, character, disposition and perspective to live as closely to the way that He would have while preparing for His kingdom and glorifying Him here. To experience this we must first be “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith” (Colossians 2:12). Faith is the key element to be in such union with Him and then “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Every morning on getting up I thank Him for this life while surrendering to His authority and become dependent totally on Him and His power for sustenance. He in turn fills me anew with His authority through His Word and His power through the Holy Spirit to enable me to “overcome” the forces of evil and darkness that He defeated on the cross. I look no farther to receive this that the evidence of the ‘empty tomb’ which testifies to His victory over death and ascension to power and authority. I put Him on as a cloak that then defines my new identity in Him and I live my life imitating Him in every way.