Ray Stedman is one of my favorite Bible teachers to read. He is with the Lord now, but his teaching ministry lives on through publications like this one, which ties in nicely to our current study in Colossians. Hope you are blessed!
“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
– Romans 13:14
When I got up this morning I put on my clothes. I put on my clothes with the intention that they would be part of me all this day, that they would go where I go and do what I do. They will cover me and make me presentable to others. That is the purpose of clothes. In the same way, the apostle is saying to us, Put on Jesus Christ when you get up in the morning. Make Him a part of your life that day. Intend that He go with you everywhere you go, and that He act through you in everything you do. Call upon His resources. Live your life in Christ.
These words have forever been made famous by their connection with the conversion of Saint Augustine. Augustine was a young man in the fourth century who lived a wild, carousing life, running around with evil companions, doing everything they were doing. He forbade himself nothing, went into anything and everything. And, as people still do today, he came to hate himself for it. One day he was with his friend in a garden, and he walked up and down, bemoaning his inability to change. O, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! How can I free myself from these terrible urges within me that drive me to the things that hurt me! And in his despair, as he walked in the garden, he suddenly heard what he thought was the voice of a child — perhaps some children were playing in the garden next door — and the voice said, Take and read, take and read. He could not remember any children’s games with words like that, but the words stuck. He went back to the table and found lying on it a copy of Paul’s letter to the Romans. He flipped it open, and these were the words he read: Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies, and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ… Romans 13:13-14a.
Augustine said that at that moment he opened his life to Christ. He had known about him, but had never surrendered to him. But that moment he did, and he felt the healing touch from Christ cleansing his life. He was never the same man again. He went on to become one of the greatest Christians of all time.
That is what Jesus Christ is capable of doing. He gives us all the power to love. If we but choose to exercise this power in the moment that needs it, we can release in this world this radical, radical force that has the power to change everything around us. It will change our homes, our lives, our communities, our nations, the world — because a risen Lord is available to us, to live through us. I love J. B. Philips’ translation of this last verse: Let us be Christ’s men from head to foot, and give no chance to the flesh to have its fling. (Romans 13:14 J.B. Philips) That is the way to live.
Thank you, Father, for the freedom and the power you have given me to clothe myself with Christ and no longer gratify the desires of my flesh.
(from the writings of Ray Stedman)