When I got up this morning 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 the Lord 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.

The phrase put on Christ means to figuratively clothe oneself with the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal the glory of God to the world. In doing so, we are putting on spiritual clothing that covers us, protects us from the world, and makes us presentable to God. To put on Christ is to receive the whole character of Christ, and let your whole character be conformed to his will. In putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, we become imitators of Him.

What does it look like to Put on the Lord Jesus Christ?

Putting on the Godly characteristics of Jesus

If our spiritual clothing is putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, then we removing our sinful, worldly characteristics and changing them for the Godly characteristics of Jesus. These include the fruit of the Holy Spirit who dwells with us. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.”

Additionally, Colossians 3:12-15 says, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.

As we put on our spiritual clothing, we put on the righteousness of Christ, for justification. We put on the Spirit and grace of Christ, for sanctification. Then we give him access to every part of our lives and allow him to rule and reign in our hearts.

Putting on the Armor of God

Paul paints a vivid picture of moving into the new life in Christ as trading the darkness of night for the light of day. As believers, we must not only wake up and throw off our night clothes but also get dressed in the appropriate outfit for the new day. Our “old clothes” were the deeds of darkness, but the proper new daytime attire for the solder of Christ is God’s armor of light (see Ephesians 6:11–18).

Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ provides us with a new nature

The expression put on Christ occurs again in Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (ESV). And in Romans 13:13-14 Paul instructs us, “Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.” In these verses, putting on Christ speaks of having clothed oneself with the new nature; believers are taught “to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). We put on Christ when our old ways are nailed to the cross and we wear the grace and forgiveness of Jesus as a glorious garment for all the world to see.

To put on the Lord Jesus Christ is to follow Him in Discipleship

To put on Christ means to follow Him in discipleship, letting our lives be conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). Rather than adapting ourselves to the pattern of this world, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and the modification of our behavior into the model of Christ’s life on earth (Romans 12:2). This change requires putting off the old self and putting on the new throughout the Christian life (Ephesians 4:22–24; Colossians 3:12). To achieve this transformation, we rely wholly on our righteous standing before God made possible in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

To put on the Lord Jesus Christ is to abide in Him

Putting on Christ means abiding in Jesus and living to please Him. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Just as branches can only bear fruit if they abide in the vine, so the only way believers can glorify the Father through fruitful lives is by abiding in Jesus. 

The vine is Jesus, while we (believers, disciples) are the branches. And God is the vinedresser (John 15:1) – that is the gardener who tends the branches. He prunes the fruitful branches so they will bear more fruit (John 15:2), and takes away the unfruitful branches, throwing them into the fire (John 15:2, 6). The unfruitful branches appear to be nominal disciples: people who outwardly follow Jesus for a time, but fail to bear fruit.  The fruit we are called to bear includes both the fruit of transformed character (similar to “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23) and fruitfulness in evangelism as we bear witness to Jesus and his work.

When we abide in Jesus, we are connected to him, dependent upon Him, and continue in Him.

Abiding in Jesus provides connection to Him

Because Jesus is the vine, He provides us with a life-giving connection to him. A branch is connected to the vine, and a vine to the branch. This is what theologians frequently describe as “union with Christ.” Notice that this connection, this union, is mutual. We abide in him and he abides in us (John 15:4). If there is no connection, there is no life, no fruit.

Abiding in Jesus makes us dependent upon Him

This aspect of abiding, unlike connection, is not reciprocal. The branch is dependent on the vine, but the vine is not dependent on the branch. The branch derives its life and power from the vine. Without the vine, the branch is useless, lifeless, powerless. Sap flows from the vine to the branch, supplying it with water, minerals, and nutrients that make it grow. And believers receive the “sap” of Christ’s grace through our life-giving connection to him. We are completely dependent upon Jesus for everything that counts as spiritual fruit (John 15:4). Apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Abiding in Jesus provide continuance In Him

Abiding also involves continuance. In fact, “abide” (Greek, meno) means to remain, or stay, or continue. For example, in John 1:38-39, two of the disciples who first encountered Jesus asked him “Where are you staying?” They wanted to know where Jesus made his residence. The word “staying” is the same word translated “abide” in John 15. To abide is to reside. To abide is to continue, to stay, to remain. Remaining in Jesus simply means that we go on trusting, that we keep on depending, that we never stop believing. To abide in Jesus is to persevere in Jesus and his teaching. This is what Jesus is talking about in John 8:31-32, when he says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ

When we put on Christ, the result is that others see Him and not us. Thus, we glorify Him, live at witnesses to Him, and lead others to know Him.

Putting on Christ each day doesn’t mean wearing him as an imposition, or nuisance, or a burden. It means wearing him as protection—that is, trusting him. It means wearing him as the supplier of all your future needs—that is, hoping in him. And it means wearing him as your supreme treasure—that is, loving him.

Put on Jesus Christ means put him on as the parachute for your skydiving behind enemy lines. It means put him on as the high-impact protective anti-explosive suit when you disarm the bombs of the devil. It means put him on as the asbestos fire-proof suit when you rescue sinners from the flames of hell. And it means put him on as a bullet proof vest when you confront the pistols of sin and unbelief.

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ means put him on as a badge that admits you to all the resources of heaven that you need to do his will. It means put him on as the best intercom system that ever was so that there can be constant communication with the one whom you love above all others and who is himself everything you need. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ means trust him, hope in him, cherish him for all these things.

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