I expect everyone, as a kid (or even as an adult), has that one article of clothing that just needs to go. It’s tired, faded and torn, but we simply won’t depart from it because, despite being decrepit and maybe filthy, it’s familiar and comfortable. I’m currently clinging to a pair of Converse All-Stars that have long given up being useful but that I can’t stand to throw out. These shoes have been too reliable for too long, so it doesn’t matter that now they’re too beat up to wear in public, or even to wear for anything more than taking out the trash without disintegrating.
In Colossians 3 Paul uses the metaphor of clothes to signify our lives before and after Christ. He says that we, as those buried and risen with Christ, should set our minds on Him, and then calls us to put off what was part of our old lives and is no longer fitting our new identity in Christ.
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Questions to Consider
Where are we “with Christ” in this passage?
What does Paul say has already happened (where are the past tense verbs)? What does Paul say is or should presently happen (where are the present tense and imperative verbs)?
What does being “Raised with Christ” have to do with the things Pauls lists in verses 5 & 7?
In last week’s passage Paul talks about how God made us alive while we were dead IN our sin, but now we have been made alive with Christ. Here we see that we are raised with Christ, and He is our life, so now we are dead TO our sin. We have put off our “old self” as well as its practices since they don’t fit with our new self, which is hidden, or secure, with Christ.
These old Converse of mine, as comfortable and familiar as they are, don’t have any value to me. They might as well not fit me. In the same way neither do the practices of our lives before Christ have value to us now that we are in Christ. They actually represent death to us, and so that’s where they belong, put to death. Judgemental anger, pornography, and self-righteousness don’t fit in the life of someone raised with Christ, so let us mortify them in ourselves. Selfishness, abusive language, and greed are unbecoming of someone who will appear in glory with Christ, so let us starve them when we see them try and pop up in our new lives. The more we grasp Christ and who we are in and with Him, the less we want the things that alienate us from Him.
And the good news is that not only have we put on the new self, but that new self is being renewed still to be more like Christ. We are being renewed, rather than renewing ourselves. He is making us more like Himself as we know Him more. So let us start with setting our minds and hearts on Christ, with whom we have been raised and will appear in glory and is renewing us in knowledge of Himself.