Summer is the time of year when we get to enjoy the most beautiful Crape Myrtle trees that were planted decades ago in our front yard. Their hot pink blooms make quite a showy statement lining the sidewalk. This is also the time of year their bark naturally sheds last year’s layers revealing the beauty of a smooth, multi-colored pattern in the wood underneath. Shedding benefits the tree by helping to remove any powdery mildew, mold, or insects living on the trunk.
Seeing the bark peeling away, I thought about how amazing it is that we also get to benefit from a “peeling away” after giving our heart to Jesus. Our old sin nature is stripped away so our new identity in Christ can radiantly show through.
Once we make a decision to live for Jesus, things change inside of us. We now have a strong desire to please Him and shed our old way of life with the corrupted, worldly desires that have kept us separated from God. We want to be close to Him! He helps us put on the new self, pure and righteous in His sight as we become transformed to be more like Him.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
There are many spiritual blessings He makes available to help us with this transformation. Some of these include power, strength, forgiveness, wisdom, joy, peace, and self-control. Transformation can only happen with God’s help and our willingness to be obedient to Him.
The old way of life is self-centered, meaningless, morally callused, and spiritually hardened. It’s all about you, your achievements, and what makes you happy in the moment. It doesn’t matter if it goes against God’s laws because you are not living your life to please Him. You expend zero effort to know Him because you don’t truly love Him.
The new way of life is Christ-centered, purposeful, and sensitive to sin because you know how much it hurts His heart. He shed His own blood to save you from that sin. You love Him, so you have a desire to spend time with Him in prayer, in His presence, and in His Word. Through your relationship with Him, He gives you a renewed mind so you can understand how to live a godly life in complete submission and obedience to Him.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
You might be thinking this sounds like a difficult way to live, constantly trying to please and obey God. But did you know, when you become transformed in Christ you experience freedom? This happens because you love to do what you ought to do and you are no longer a slave under the control of your sinful nature. This does not mean you will never struggle with the temptation to sin, but the closer you are to the Lord, experiencing the depths of His love through spending time with Him, the more you will desire to live in a way that pleases Him in all you do.
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. Romans 8:6-9a
Just as the shedding bark on the trees exposes the beauty of the wood underneath, the peeling away of our sin nature exposes the beauty of our transformed life in Christ. He now sees us as pure and righteous, a perfect reflection of our precious Savior.
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