Killing the Old Patterns, Learning New Ones

We’re in the process of repainting our kitchen right now.  Everything from the cabinets, to the walls, to the furniture.  (It is looking pretty sweet by the way, and I am grateful that my wife has some God-given creativity and the skills and talent to pull it off.)

Because of the extent of the project, all our drawers are out on counters at the moment, and things that are normally on the wall, are off the walls.  Basically the routine of our kitchen order has been turned upside down.  I go to reach for the silverware drawer, and find nothing because it is on the counter.  I turn to look at the clock on the wall, but the clock isn’t there.  I wash my hands and then turn around from the sink, and reach for the hand towel, and…oh yeah…it isn’t there right now.  And this kind of thing is happening ALL THE TIME!  My kitchen routines and patterns are so ingrained in me, that I have yet to adjust to the new ways.  Do you know how annoying it is to keep looking at the wall thinking you’ll find the clock or hand towel, only to realize IT ISN’T THERE!

Now eventually, if we left all the drawers out and hung the towel or clock somewhere else, my mind would adjust.  I’d learn new ways.  The old dog would learn a new trick.  But it would take time, and it would take a conscience choice each and every time to retrain my brain.

To follow Christ, means we must learn and grow in new ways of living.  Colossians 3:1-17 is one of my favorite little sections of Scripture.  In that section, Paul is describing things we must put off, and things we must put on.

Verses 5-9 say this. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 

The spiritual reality is that we all have ‘old’ patterns of life that we need to put to death.  That sounds strong for a reason.  These old ways must not be coddled, or dealt with gently.  They must be put to death and killed.  Because these things are not a reflection of who we are now in Christ.  We ‘once walked’ or ‘were living in them’, but not now.  We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (Romans 6).

These old patterns are so ingrained in our way of life though, much like me reaching for a towel that isn’t there.  As followers of Jesus, we need to ask God to transform us by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12).  That the Holy Spirit of God would not only expose the old pattern in us, but then remind us that on the cross, sin was beaten, and greater is He who is in us, that he who is in the world.

What old pattern in your life needs to be put to death this week?

‘When she leaves the house or goes to sleep, is when I get on the internet…’

‘When I get to work, I walk down his/her aisle, so I can flirt with them or check them out (even though they are not my spouse)…’

‘When my child pushes that particular button, I blow my top, use words I regret, and sin in my anger…’

‘When I get around so and so or that crowd, my words become obscene to say the least…’

‘When I’m in that circle of friends, I find that all we talk about are other people and their problems…’

‘When I drive past that house or location, I am filled with bitterness over what happened there or who lives there…’

‘When I begin surfing the internet, I keep landing on sites that cause me to covet and be overly discontent with what God has provided for me…’

Is there some pattern to your way of life that has become so ‘second nature,’ and yet is so contrary to your ‘new nature’ in Christ?  If so, it is time to put it to death.  It is time to repent from it, and agree with God’s view of that sin.  It is time to walk in the new life God has given you in Christ, and be reminded that you are no longer enslaved to sin, but you’ve been set free from it.  It is time to ask a Godly friend for help because you were not designed to live in isolation.

Keep this in mind though, to follow Jesus is not just about killing sin and old patterns.  It is also about putting on a new self.

Verses 10, 12-14:  10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator…12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

In your life, what needs to be put off?  What needs to be put on?