The Bible says that we are to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col 3:10).
I remember falling into the mud as a boy. It was raining outside and as my friends and I were playing, we fell into the mud and every part of our clothes were soaked and dirty. When I came to the door, my mother just looked at me for a moment. As a smile formed on her face she told me to go to the garage where I could get clean before tramping all that mud into the house. While in the garage she made sure all the mud was off, wiped my face, and gave me clean clothes to wear. When I finally entered the house, all the mud was gone.
When we come to Jesus for salvation, He too smiles. But He first tells us to go to the cross. When we arrive there we are dirty beyond recognition. After we are forgiven Jesus begins to clean us. By the time we get to heaven, the mud is gone and we are wearing new cloths that will never again be stained by sin.
It is important to note that being forgiven and being cleaned are two different aspects of the Christian life. Being forgiven happens immediately after we come to the cross. Being cleaned is a lifelong process. Being forgiven is called receiving salvation, or being saved. Being cleaned of our sins is called sanctification.
You cannot be cleaned until you are forgiven; but once you are forgiven the Lord begins the process of cleaning you from all sins. The Lord wants us to be actively engaged in the cleaning process. He does the work, but just as my mother helped me dress when I was a boy, we have to pay attention and do as He says.
The Bible tells us to “Put on the new self.” That’s the same thing as saying, “Take the clean clothes the Lord is giving you and put them on!” The apostle tells us that we are to put them on by “being renewed in knowledge.” In other words, sanctification happens when we intentionally seek to obey God’s Word.
When we do obey, the Bible makes it clear that the cleaning process does not end with us wearing just any type of clean clothes. He says that we are renewed after the image of our creator. That’s a staggering thought! When we are cleaned from sin, and ushered into heaven, we are going to look like Jesus, our creator!
As a Christian I sometimes still feel like that little boy covered in mud looking into my mother’s face. And when I look into the face of Jesus, I am thankful that the Lord is willing to forgive me and go about the laborious task of cleaning me. He is a patient and loving God! I look forward to wearing my new clothes.