Being clothed with the Spirit of God

Our being set apart by God is not only for our benefit, but so that others can see how God’s standards are possible to live out in this life.

In overcoming the sins of the flesh, the apostle Paul made use of an interesting term in order to describe what this process was like. To his way of thinking, the believer’s life was to be clothed with the Messiah, as if the righteous example and deeds of the Messiah were something to be put on, like you might put on a robe or suit of armor.

Romans 13:12-14 – The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Yeshua Messiah, and don’t make plans to gratify the desires of the flesh.

This thinking is likely the result of Yeshua’s teaching of the empowerment of the holy Spirit. In this respect, the empowerment of the Spirit of God was something that occurred to the individual from outside of themselves; it was bestowed upon them from God.

Luke 24:49 – “And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

This event, of course, was the day of Pentecost that first early summer after Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection. Yeshua describes it as being clothed with power from on high (that is, from God). We see this event being described in the book of Acts:

Acts 2:1-4 – When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.

Paul captures this same imagery and uses it to describe the believers’ unity they have because of this operation of God in their lives.

Galatians 3:26-28 – for through faith you are all sons of God in Messiah Yeshua. For those of you who were baptized into Messiah have been clothed with Messiah. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

This operation of God has set them apart in holiness. They are now a collective of individuals who have specific purpose in growing the Kingdom of God. But they can only do this as they continue to walk in this holiness, this set-apartness.

So Paul then takes this imagery of being clothed with power from on high and carries the metaphor into the practical aspects of overcoming sin in their lives.

Ephesians 4:20-24 – But that is not how you came to know Messiah, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Yeshua, to take off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new man, created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

He encourages the believers to rely on that empowerment they have received as the tool by which their lives will be changed.

Ephesians 6:10-11 – Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil.

Colossians 3:9-10, 12-14 – Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with its practices and have put on the new, the one being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. … Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all these is the love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

These qualities and practices he is urging them to “put on” are the qualities and practices evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit.

Romans 8:5, 12-14 – For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. … So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

The full context of Romans 8:1-17 is all about living by the empowering of God’s Spirit to overcome the sinful practices that have separated them from God. When they do so, Paul says, they demonstrate they are truly God’s children. God’s children walk in holiness or set-apartness because they are yielding obediently to God’s leading and they are empowered by God to do so.

In a similar way, when we learn to rely on God’s Spirit to overcome the sinful works of the flesh, we demonstrate that we are God’s children to a world that needs to know him. Our being set apart by God is not only for our benefit, but so that others can see how God’s standards are possible to live out in this life. Those who are compelled by our walk of obedience can then also experience this work in their lives and are then empowered to influence others. In this way, each generation carries forward the heritage of faith in Messiah until it ultimately fills the earth.


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Vigilance on the road to New Eden

The way consists of focusing on God and dying to self.

The vigilance required to live the life that God requires involves two distinct yet complementary aspects: a constant focus on God and a committed attitude of dying to self.

Focus on God:
Romans 8:5 – For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.

Dying to self:
Romans 8:12-14 – So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

Focus on God:
Colossians 3:1-2 – So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Dying to self:
Colossians 3:5-10 – Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.

The apostle Paul conveys some of his most profound teaching in the passages presented here. The crux of the believer’s life is rooted in these deep truths. The summation of the argument in both cases is the ongoing blending of these twin acts of keeping one’s eyes on God and dying to self.

  • “For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons,” (Romans 8:14).
  • “…you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator,” (Colossians 3:10).

Focusing on God and dying to self is defined here as being “led by God’s Spirit,” and by “putting off the old self; putting on the new self.” By faithfully doing these things, Paul says we engage a process of renewal, a type of ongoing resurrection from dead practices to knowledge of what is right. As this process continues we become what God has originally created us to be, “in his image.”

Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
Genesis 9:6 – … for God made humans in his image.

All of humanity’s striving is to get back to Eden, to return to the original concept and design that God has for all people. Yet Messiah has begun a new type of creation, one that is better because in it we can be victorious over all trial and temptation. This the the grand goal of all Scripture, to point us in that direction and to empower us through his Spirit living within us. Only dying to self allows for this level of renewal. Only a clear focus on God and his Word provides for dying to self. And the two aspects of this life of dying to self and being led by God’s Spirit are brought to fruition through Messiah Yeshua.

Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Messiah Yeshua, because the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Colossians 3:1 – So if you have been raised with Messiah, seek the things above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.

In Messiah, God had begun this new and renewed humanity. As Adam was the first physical being, Yeshua became the first spiritually renewed being.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 – So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is of heaven. Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

As we focus on Messiah and his steadfast obedience to God, we are renewed in his likeness to ultimately bear the image of God.

Galatians 5:16, 24-25 – I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. … Now those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.