“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the Truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:21-24
This verse stuck out to me today. When I read the words “throw off” I immediately had to start searching. I started in the original Greek. “Throw off” is the word “apothithemi” which is a compound word:
*apo: denotes any kind of separation of one thing from another by which the union or fellowship of the two is destroyed.
*tithemi: to lay off or aside, to wear or carry no longer.
I love the beauty of words and the way they work together to create something meaningful to the reader!!! What a fantastic picture that this one simple word creates! It starts with the picture of a complete and total separation from the old sinful nature and former way of life where you had fellowship with lust and union with deception. And yet here is Paul urging us to throw that off and lay it aside as though it were a coat and to wear it no longer. But to rather let the Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on us in order to renew our thoughts and attitudes. In this way the new nature is being put on like a coat and worn in order to better represent the image of God as we go forth and preach the good news with thanksgiving for our salvation.
In Mark 10 we read a perfect illustration of this very thing.
Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and His Disciples left town, a large crowd followed Him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
When Jesus heard him, He stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, He’s calling you!”
Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
“My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”
And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
This healing of Bartimaeus is a perfect example for all of us. He was blind and wanted to see. He hadn’t SEEN Jesus, but rather had heard of Him and that He was near. And in that unseeing faith he called to the Jesus who heals blind men like him. He called and the people around him shushed him. Right now there is something that you may be blind to, an answer or a blessing that you know is there you just can’t quite see it yet. And in your blindness you’re calling out to the One who has the power to heal you, if only He would hear you. And in your calling there are voices, perhaps small voices that only you can hear. Perhaps louder voices that everyone can hear, who knows. Either way, inevitably there are voices that are telling you to, “give up” to “stop trying, it’s never going to happen”, or to “let it go”. But you’ve got to ignore those voices and keep raising yours above the din of the crowd in order to gain the audience with the King that you seek.
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me and I will answer you; and tell you great and unsearchable things which you do not know.”
Jesus heard Bartimaeus and He hears you and I when we call. And what was it that He said to Bartimaeus when He heard him? “Come here”. Is that not the very same thing He tells us when we’re blind and in need of some divine vision and perspective into our situation? “Come. Allow Me to heal your wounds. Come. Allow Me to make you whole. Come. Let Me show you something you’ve never seen before. Come.”
And what was Bartimaeus’ reaction when Jesus said to “come”? He didn’t just come, he threw off his coat and jumped up away from it! Now there are two things you need to know about that coat. 1) The coat they are referring to is most likely a coat of a certain color that would have denoted someone who was crippled and allowed to beg at the gate to the city. So, it’s quite significant that he’s throwing off this coat that signifies that he is a cripple. At this point Jesus hasn’t even healed him yet, He has just called Bartimaeus to Himself. But already Bartimaeus knows that Jesus is going to do for him what He has done for countless others – He’s going to heal him. 2) The word used to describe the action with which Bartimaeus threw his coat was the Greek word “apoballo”. It too is a compound word in the Greek that begins with that same prefix “apo” as before. However, the suffix of the word is a little different. Where Paul tells us to lay aside our old self, or sinful nature, Bartimaeus isn’t just completely separating himself from his old crippled self, he is “ballo”ing his coat.
*ballo: to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls
Bartimaeus threw down that coat of shame with such force and vigor because he knew that he was NEVER going to need it ever again. He knew that the moment Jesus paused in His journey for HIM that his life would never be the same.
My dearest friend. You have been crying out to Jesus for something. It’s been a long time in the coming. Like Bartimaeus, you’ve heard about Jesus doing these things for others and you’ve been watching for Him to show up in your city so that maybe, just maybe, He’ll pass by on His way and notice YOU. Beloved, He is HERE with you right now. He has heard your cry and He has stopped right in front of where you are and called you to “Come”. Throw off that coat of your past life and RUN to Jesus. He holds your new coat in His Word. “GO, for your faith has healed you.”
Like a caterpillar emerging from its cocoon after much waiting, it too springs forth a new creation. No longer destined to crawl on the ground and eat leaves it’s new self is formed to fly on the slightest of breezes and feed from the sweet nectar of the heart of a flower. A butterfly holds no lasting love for its prison-like cocoon; it leaves it behind with little more than a flit of its newly formed wings. So too we must leave behind the things of our former self, and everything that that may mean. We’ve got to keep moving forward and press on toward the goal, never allowing anything to hinder us in our progress toward the awaiting arms of our Savior at the finish line; the One who has been waiting for us to come along.