Put it on! You’ve got a whole new wardrobe!

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10…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:10-15

You have a new spirit in Christ, but the body and soul must be submitted to the redemptive work of the Gospel ‘till we are fully united with Christ Jesus. We can’t see your new spirit. But like fashion, the old nature and new nature is what is seen by others. When Paul speaks of the traits and qualities of the old nature and the new nature he uses the language of fashion: “put it off” and “put it on.”

For the Believer who has received Jesus Christ as Lord, the work of salvation is the renewal of the spirit. Once you were dead in your sins, but now you are alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2:1-10) You are a new creation; you have a new self, the old is gone and the new has come. (1 Corinthians 5:17) In Christ Jesus you also have a whole new wardrobe accessible in the new you that can be seen by others.

You have now become a participant in your total makeover through the Holy Spirit, God’s word, and the new community called church. Our daily responsibility is to put off the old nature and then to reach into the new wardrobe gracefully outfitted by Christ Jesus. We are to put on the new nature so that the life of Christ occupies our body and soul. This change is dynamic, not static, and it is a continual process of growth and maturity in Christ Jesus.

The new nature is so relational! Its ours because we are “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.” Its so relational because we have been brought into the new community where race, religion, culture, and status are not determinant. Instead Christ Jesus is all. And its Jesus who gives us a new wardrobe. We can put on:

Compassionate hearts

Kindness

Humility

Meekness

Patience

Forgiveness

Love

The peace of Christ

Gratitude

There is no place where these qualities are not required of the Christian. As we will see later in Colossians Paul envisions the new nature being expressed not only in the fellowship of the church, but also in the home, and in the workplace. Each of these settings has a way of showing the deficits in our character.

We may be frustrated that the new nature is not automatic! But Christ’s healing and His power for life comes with the daily and seasonal work of prayer, Scripture memory, meditation, fasting, confession, worship, and the grace of receiving connection—knowing and being known, acceptance, forgiveness, and the blessings from others who are also occupied by Jesus Christ. This is how Jesus creates a gospel-shaped life with us, and us with Him.

 

 

Put it to death.

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5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:5-9

Growing with Jesus requires our agency; that’s by design. We participate in the new creation of our character so that it reflects Jesus Christ as Lord more and more often. Always in response to the grace of Jesus we activate the virtues of faith, hope, and love in our spiritual growth. Our life is hidden with Christ; what we are is not yet fully seen. The old nature will cover up our life with Him and the reality of grace unless we respond. We have died; we have been buried with Him in baptism; we and we been raised with Him to new life.

A new morality by God’s grace is available to us. But it requires our participation. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” Putting the old nature to death is an act of faith, hope, and love. What is it going to take for you to break the habituated draw of the old nature of your life? How can we put it to death?

The old nature and its practices must be identified. Paul gives the Colossian Christians two lists so they can see what is inconsistent with the life of Christ. The lists are not exhaustive. But they do highlight two powerful and destructive types of habituated sin common to the old nature.

Sexuality immorality                      Anger
Impurity                                            Wrath
Passion                                               Malice
Evil desires                                        Slander
Covetousness- which is idolatry   Obscene talk

And then Paul identifies a third and related problem of the old nature: lying. Do not lie to one another. The old nature generates lies, especially in regard to the personal and social dynamics of sex, anger, and what we have said. Lying is a means of managing the guilt, shame, and fear. It has nothing to do with the spiritual dynamics required for putting the old nature to death.

Life and Death Divergence

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3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:3

Our affections and heart will be drawn to something. The members of our body will be occupied by desires. For the believer in Christ Jesus the spiritual dynamics of our life are explained in aspects of life and of death.

Of death, the believer was dead in their sins.

Of death, the believer is now dead to sin.

This is not a renovation; Jesus has ushered us into a demolition.

But the demolition of the works of sin and death are animated from the interior occupation of the One who loved us and died for us, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Now our life is hidden with Christ, in God.

Hidden: Jesus the Crucified is enough to advocate for us.

Hidden: Jesus the Resurrected is enough to secure our life even in the face of ridicule, accusation, pressure, harassment, loss of wealth, or even death of the body from those who do not yet recognize Him or love Him as Lord.

Blessed are you!

Your life is hidden with Christ in God!

What to do with youthful passions contrary to God’s grace

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19But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 20Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 22So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  2 Timothy 2:19-22

Knowing Jesus generates response and the desire to honour Him with our lives. But our passions may seem to get in the way of responding honourably to Jesus and the Gospel. We may be disappointed that passions, our desires, do not automatically align themselves with the purity of the Holy Spirit. This is where we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit for a lifetime.

We can lock onto God’s vision for our lives and return to Him over and over; set apart for Him; holy by His grace; useful to the Master of this house.

We can cleanse ourselves of what is dishonourable to Jesus through confession and deliberate gatekeeping. In His loving presence we learn to recognize our temptations drawing us away from the sincere satisfaction available in His grace and truth.

We can flee youthful passions, deciding not to feed and entertain them.

We can pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, redirecting the energy and youthfulness of our lives into participation in His work.

We can connect with the fellowship of Jesus’ followers who call on the Lord in the promise of a heart forgiven and cleansed by Jesus’ labour of love at the cross, for support and encouragement.

Not once, not twice, but…

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24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24

 

…for a lifetime.

 

Crucifying the flesh is a life-time process. Its a long obedience, not a switch, a pill, a trick, or a special kind of self-improvement knowledge.

 

The Spirit of God creates a new desire in us to be like Jesus and to live always in response to His love. Maturing in Christ, requires us to keep  in step with the Spirit of God AND to crucify the flesh.

 

Paul does not mean for us to climb up on a cross. Instead we bring figuratively and in prayer our flesh, our old nature, with its own passions and desires to the Cross of Jesus. Paul says these are in conflict with what the Spirit of God desires in us.

 

The flesh will not be managed with new rules. It is in constant conflict with the Spirit of God. It must regularly be submitted to Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The flesh must be mortified. The Spirit of God desires to create an environment in us suitable for the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh. Below are some of the conditions in which “the flesh” cannot thrive.

 

When we consider the Cross of Jesus and the love of God shown us as He  paid the penalty of our sin and made forgiveness accessible to all.

 

When we delight in our identity as His, since now in Christ we belong to HIm.

 

When we call sin what it is, identifying attitudes and actions that “miss the mark” moving us away and independent of God.

 

When we confess our sin and repent of it, turning away and changing our mind about it.

 

When we starve our fleshy desires by refusing to feed thoughts, memories, habits contrary to the grace Jesus has shown us.

 

Early in our walk with Jesus and in different seasons of life this process may be a struggle. At other seasons it may come to us with ease. This is not a process attempted in our own worked up guilt, shame or fear; these do not produce the freedom God desires. Rather, crucifying the flesh is a faith response to Jesus’ grace and truth empowered by His Spirit.