I don’t know if this happens in your house, but whenever I need an extra hanger, I can’t seem to find one. But if I don’t need an extra one, I have too many of them cluttering up my closet. L. K.’s great demonstration and my hanger situation got me to wondering if anyone was credited with inventing this handy contraption. Wikipedia reports that some historians believe that Thomas Jefferson invented a forerunner of the wooden hanger but the most common kind today, the shoulder-shaped wire hanger, was inspired by a coat hook invented in 1869 by O. A. North of New Britain CT. Another version is attributed to Albert J. Parkhouse of Jackson MI. The story goes that one morning in 1903 he arrived at work and found all the coat hooks taken. Bothered by the inconvenience, he took a piece of wire, bent it into the shape we recognize today and hung up his coat. Who knew hangers had such an interesting history?
History and illustrations aside, hangers are handy for the coats and other garments we change in and out of throughout the day. Wouldn’t it be nice if changing the old and new self was just as easy? Ephesians 4:22-24 challenges the believer to lay aside the former or “old” self. It seems obvious but is worth highlighting that the word “old” here is distinctly referring to something in the past and stands in contrast to the “new” of verse 24 which not only refers to something new chronologically but also qualitatively, that is it is better than what was before as well. Like a product that boasts it is “new and improved” so is the new self in Christ. It is a far better condition than the one we were in before. We also tend to define “self” as something intangible, the inner person. But in this passage it distinctly refers both to the actual person and to the person they are inside. This generic term is used to distinguish the former “man” (meaning any human male or female) who by their very nature was in opposition to God with an unrenewed disposition of heart. The new man’s disposition or attitude is created and developed by Christ who gives the believer a new nature (Rom. 6:6: Eph. 2:15; 4:22, 24; Col. 3:9).
While changing our wardrobe usually takes place in our bedroom, the place where the old self is changed for the new takes place in the mind (v. 23). The mind is our organ for mental perception and understanding. It is where we take in information and form a judgment. Paul’s use of the word speaks of the mind in two settings. The first is in the flesh (sarx in Greek) and the second is in the Spirit (pneuma) (Rom. 7:21-25). There is a constant battle that takes place in the mind between the flesh and the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:14-15, 19) but just as the mind can be dragged down by the flesh, it can also be reformed and regenerated by the Spirit (Rom. 8:6; Eph. 4:23). The Spirit is the Divine influence by which the temperament and disposition of the mind in the Christian is affected. The Spirit corrects, elevates, and fills the mind with peace and joy because it does not indulge in the depraved behavior of the physical nature-the flesh (Rom. 8:2, 4-6; 9:13). The Spirit influences us to be like Christ (Gal. 5:16-18, 22, 25; 6:8).
The change which takes place in our nature/mind is not instantaneous like that which takes place when you pour boiling water over Ramen noodles. It’s a slow process because it involves the work of the Spirit and our participation with Him (Rom. 6:12-13. 17-19; Eph. 5:15-18; Col. 1:21-22; 3:1-2). But the result of putting off the old self and its ways (Eph. 4:17-19; Col. 3:5-11) and putting on the new (Eph. 4:24-32; Col. 3:12-14) is a transformation that is just as appealing as a mismatched ensemble being changed to an aesthetically pleasing one. Your old self is a heavy, unappealing garment. Take it off and put it on a hanger in the back of your closet today. Replace it with the garment of Christ’s Spirit in you by the renewal of your mind (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:24).
Ann H.LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre