Most people do not like the creatures that belong to the class of Reptiles, but Reptiles actually have some very distinct attributes that can teach us about God and His character, and how to be more like His Son Jesus. In order to distinguish reptiles from other animals, they must have a backbone, scales, lay eggs, breathe with lungs and be cold-blooded, so that their body temperature is determined by their environment.
I am currently residing in Florida where there are many different Reptiles, but the most prolific certainly must be the brown Anole Lizards. It seems as though every step I take here, these lizards dart out in front of me. In this photo, you can see that this Anole is in the process of shedding his old skin in order to accommodate his changing size as he grows. What an incredible analogy this is to compare with what God’s Word teaches us about becoming new creatures in Christ.
When an individual makes a decision to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, there is an instant transformation that occurs during the new birth. For most people, the process of changing and becoming more Christ-like happens at a much slower rate of time, and it must include a choice to change one’s way of living, behavior, thinking, and speech, because Jesus teaches us to live according to the truth of His Word.
If a lizard is unable to shed its skin at regular intervals of growth time, it can become susceptible to disease, loss of limbs and even death. So, too, with the new life God wants us to live; we must rid ourselves of all of the old ways in which we lived, or we will become worse off than we were before our salvation. Not many of us would get up in the morning, take a shower, and then put on dirty clothes from the day before, but rather we want to put on clean, fresh clothing to start our day. Paul tells us in this fourth chapter of Ephesians that we must be taught about these new creatures we are to become. In fact the Greek word “kainos” that is used for “new” in this passage, does not mean something more recent in time, but something that has a different quality or nature. The transformation is very similar to the saying, “out with the old, and in with the new.”
Just as we feel better about ourselves when we dress in nice, clean clothes, we will also begin to feel better about ourselves when we have allowed God to change our attitudes and renew our thoughts. The lizard sometimes has to rub itself up against rough surfaces to scrape off any remaining pieces of the old skin while the new skin is growing. The believer almost always has to go through friction and rough times in order to be willing to allow God’s Spirit to completely take him over and direct his life.
It seems absurd for anyone who has tasted and seen how good Christ is to willingly choose to be stuck in his old ways of pride and selfishness, rather than allowing God to transform him and bless him with a far more meaningful life. I think that the biggest obstacle we face as humans is our desire to return to the things that are familiar to us and the lifestyle that we are used to living. There will come a time, though, in the life of every believer when he will have to choose which will be predominant – his mind, or God’s Spirit inside of him. When we have decided to believe in Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins, we must break with the past, because Jesus is not “something” to just add to our lives, He is our life. The old life we lived must die, just as Jesus had to die to save us and give us new life. It was God’s love for us that sent Jesus to the cross, and it will continue to be God’s love for us that will help us to be able to strip off all our old sins one by one until the day that we are completed.