Lesson II: The "Put Ons" and "Put Offs" of a Good Attitude
Read Ephesians 4: 1-6, 22-24
Many people have made this statement over the years: life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to it. I firmly believe that this is very true. As Christians saved by grace, it is still up to us to operate out of what Christ gives us; this is what Philippians, chapter two, is all about. But, to have a good attitude requires us to have a life that really is Christian. What does that mean? It means that we are called to be renewed and transformed; our old self is pushed aside as His work in us becomes greater and more prevalent. When this happens, our life becomes new. It is like getting new clothes, but this time they remain new and enduring, and they are better than anything else could ever be. In addition, one of the prime results is that our attitude is also transformed so that when bad stuff happens and when things do not go our way, that 10% is given to Christ by our trust and obedience in Him. We look to Him and our circumstances are compared to eternity and to His redemptive work of love and grace for us. (Just read these five, life-transforming chapters in God's most precious Word: Romans 12; Ephesians 4-5; Colossians 1 and 3.)
Ephesians, chapter four calls us to a life of purpose and distinction, one where we have received His election and His grace that we neither earned nor deserve. When this hits home with us, we can start to realize that we do belong exclusively to Christ and that He is our Savior and our Lord. Imagine what your life could be if He had all of your thinking and attitude? When we belong to Christ, we can't also belong to the world's way or our way of sin. Thus, a call is issued to us to repudiate our old life, as in get rid of it, throw it out, push it away, and what verses 22 to 24 tell us-to put it off. Once these evil and misguided ways are removed, we can make room for His work and embrace so the work of the Spirit directs our new life as in put it on. We put on goodness and the Fruit of His love and the workings of our transformed life affect us as well as all those around us. This is what makes our faith contagious and a valuable asset so others will see Christ at work in us.
Paul used the analogy of taking off filthy clothes and putting on new clothes. Imagine taking off the dirtiest, most tattered clothes you ever had, such as some worn on a camping trip that lasted for two weeks without changing and then bathing and putting on new clothes. How good that feels, and how others who stayed away from us before now want to be around us. In Paul's time, this illustration was striking, as getting new clothes, because of their expense and rarity, was like our getting a new car or a new home. Back then, only the very rich would get new clothes. The average person might get a set once or twice in a lifetime and they were usually "hand-me-downs." God is giving us new clothes we did not earn, purchase, or even deserve; it is that we appear sinless and justified in His sight because of Christ's atonement-covering. Yet, these clothes are not just given and left at our door. They come with a purpose and role to influence, shape, and involve every aspect of our lives. There is also a catch, so to speak; we must remove the old ones and put the new ones on.
While Christ's redemptive work is in us, we need to remember that it is a life-long endeavor. It is not a one-time event or a short prayer we say, nor does it happen overnight. We must work at it. We will fail but we need to get up and strive harder. Jesus is continually in us, building us up, making us the person we ought to be-our best for His glory, His best for you and me. Our growth in Him, transforming not just our status before God the Father, but all other areas in our life also, is what becoming mature is all about. This is the result of our redemption. Since this is not salvation critical, rather "just" a response of our gratitude, many Christians take this call with a "grain of salt" and do little with it. And thus they remain weak in faith and immature in Him. This is why we have conflicts and fights in the church and why we fail at His call.
When we are not effectively growing in Christ, a vacuum forms where the dirt of the bad life is sucked up into our spiritual lives. So, we have a church full of people wanting their way rather than His Way, which is why misguided church polities run the worship and direction of a church and not the polity of transformed lives in Christ. If we do not want the old self, the sinful self, we need to do something about it. And that "something" is simple; we are called to "put off" our sin and selfish inclinations and in turn, put on the heartfelt, growing obedience to which we are called. Because people lead by their way and means and don't consider Christ's redemptive work in them, He is ignored and the ways of the flesh are embraced. What is evil and bad is held on to while the good and virtuous things are pushed away. Maturity will make the difference between a life of distinction and purpose and a life governed by discord and disarray. It is the same with how your church will be to you and others, and its role in the neighborhood and the Kingdom. So, what is your response? What is your attitude? Where does your maturity lie?What will your personal life and your church be governed by-the "put offs" or the "put ons"?
Use the Chart Below to Grow
Below is a chart that lists two sets of Fruit and ways of living. One side represents Christ's redemptive work that we comply to continue by being grateful, pursuing His Grace and applying His Fruit into our daily lives. The other side represents the corruption of sin, the old self that we are called to get rid of. Yet, these old and dirty ways are so alluring, we seem not to want to get rid of them. Go through the next week being fully aware of your attitudes; keep a journal of them. Keep track of your negative attitudes and positive attitudes. Then, notice your feelings and responses in those situations. See what you find and see what happens!
1. Lack of love I John 4:7.8.20
2. Judging Matt. 7: 1.2
3. Bitterness Hebrews 12:1f
4. Unforgiving spirit Mark 11:26
5. Pride Proverbs 16:18
6. Selfishness Philippians 2:21
7. Boasting (conceit) I Cor. 4:7
8. Stubbornness I Samue15: 23
9. No Submission / Disrespect II Timothy 3:6
10. Rebellion I Samueal 15: 23
11. Disobedience I Samueal 12:15
12. Ungrateful Romans 1: 21
13. Impatience James 1: 2-4
14. Discontent Philippians 4:11-13
15 Covetousness Exodus 20:17
16. Complaining Proverbs 19:3
17. Argumentative Jude 15-16
18. Irritation to others Proverbs 25:8
19. Disrespectful speech John 6:43
20. Jealousy Proverbs 27-4
21. Strife James 3:16
22. Losing temper Proverbs 16:32
23. Bodily harm Proverbs 16:29
24. Anger Proverbs 14:17
25. Wrath James 1:19-20
26. Hatred Matthew 5:21-2
27. Murder Exodus 20:13
28 Gossip I Timothy 5:13
29. Lying Ephesians 4:25
30. Bad Language Ephesians 4:29
31. Profanity Psalms 109:17
32. Idle words Matthew 12:36
33. Evil thoughts Proverbs 23:7
34. Bad Motives I Samuel 16:7
35. Complacency James 4: 17
36. Hypocrisy Job 8:13
37 Other god's Deuteronomy 11:16
38. Lost first love Revelation 2:4
39 Lack of rejoicing Phil.4.4
40. Worry / Fear Matthew 6:25-32
41 Doubt / Unbelief! I Thess. 5:24
Love John 15:12
Search my sin John 8:9: 15:22
Tenderhearted Colossians 3: 12
Forgiving spirit Matthew 6:14
Humility James 4:6
Death to self John 12:24
Humility Proverbs 27:2
Submission Joel 2:12.13; Romans 6: 13
Broken will Matthew 6:10
Surrender Galatians 2:20-21
Obedience Hebrews 5: 9
Thankfulness Ephesians 5:20
Patience Luke 21: 19
Satisfaction Hebrews 13:5
Yield rights Colossians 3:5
Gratefulness I Corinthians 10:10
Contentment Hebrews 13:5
Favor in love Philippians 2:3,4
Respect for authority Ephesians 5: 21
Trust, put others 1st I Corinthians 13:4
Esteem others Luke 6:31
Self control Romans 5:3.4
Gentleness I Thessalonians 2:7
Self control Galatians 5:24,25
Self control Galatians 5:24,25
Kindness I Corinthians 13 :3
Love Romans I Corinthians 13:3
Restrain tongue Proverbs 21:23
Speak truth Zechariah 8:16
Edify I Timothy 4:12
Restrain tongue Proverbs 21: 23
Pure speech Proverbs 15:4
Pure thoughts Philippians 4:8
Spiritual motives 1 Corinthians 10:31
Zeal for Christ Revelation 3:19
Sincerity 1 Thessalonians 2:3
Meditation on God Psalm 19: 14
Fervent devotion Revelation 2:5
Rejoice I Thessalonians 5.16
Trust I Peter 5:7
Faith Hebrews 11:1
("Put On" and "Put Off" list inspired from a Young Life Training Book from the 1970s)
Having a negative attitude cuts you off from the blessings and wonders that God has in store for you. You may not be rich or famous, but, that is not important; it is the positive attitude of life and the receiving of His redemption and blessings that will give you meaning and true happiness. No car, job, house, spouse, or anything else could ever bring you that! Negative attitudes prevent us from experiencing life, joy, forgiveness, fulfillment, peace, love, and happiness, as does refusing to give up our will for our Lord and Savior!
Do you like to wear new clothes? How does it make you feel to have something new on? Does it boost your self-image and confidence? Do you feel better about yourself? This is not bad in itself; however, how do you feel now that you have Atonement as a Christian (that is, that Christ is now your clothing in that He covers you)?
1. Do you believe that life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to it? What does that mean? How has this been true in your life? Can you give and example?
2. Do you believe that to have a good attitude, we are required to have a life that really is Christian? If so, why do you suppose most Christians really do not do such a good job with this call? What gets in the way?
3. What does it mean to you to live your life by what Christ gives you? Can you give an example? What can you do to be better at this, allowing His work to further build you up in faith and in Christian maturity?
4. As a group, go through each line item slowly, one at a time (this may take several sessions), and ask:
- What do I need to put off?
- What do I need to put on?
- How do I do that?
- How do I fail in this area?
- How can I do this better?
5. As an individual, do the same thing, but this time do so in prayer, and do one a day for the next 41 days.
6. How would your life and your relationship with God and with others improve if you were better at these "Put Ons?"
7. How and why do these "Put Offs" affect your life and your relationship with God and others? How would your life improve if you were better at "putting off" these "Put Offs?"
8. What does it mean to be renewed and transformed? What is a good example of this? What can you do to place your life in Christ's hands so He controls all of your thinking and attitude?
9. What would your personal life and your church be like if you were totally dominated by the "put offs?" Now what about if you were governed by the "put ons"? What is it going to take for you to do this? When will you do it? Make the commitment and have someone help keep you accountable!
10. Attitude is the gauge to determine the level and quality of Fruit from God's work and ways that are impacting our daily lives. When we have a good attitude, we can see these "put ons" at work. When we have a bad attitude, we can see the tendency of our old ways to take over. We can and should memorize these "put ons" and be aware of the "put offs," However, carefully examine this list of what Scripture calls our old self as compared to our new self, and what we are called to "put off" and "put on."
More items to put on:
Meditate on Christ: 1 John 4:10; 19
Think on these things: Philippians 4:8
Diligence: Colossians 3:23
Honesty: Ephesians 4:25
Speak praise: Romans 14:19
Place Jesus first: Ephesians 4:6
© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org/