I hope you had a lovely Easter and got a chance to spend some quiet time with the Lord in thanksgiving. We are continuing with Colossians 3. Our last post turned a corner, where we went from Paul’s exhortations and elaborations on the sufficiency of Christ to living a resurrected life. There are major implications to living a life that is now sealed in Christ. There is a change of behavior that follows repentance. This change means getting rid of some old habits and adding some new virtues.
In other words, we cannot be in Christ and remain our same old selves. It requires a change in our lives. In Colossians 3:5, Paul writes “Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature…”
I love the truthfulness of the Bible, do you not? It does not paint a fairytale lifestyle for those of us who are now living in Christ. It does not say that all sin will evaporate and dissipate. It does not lead us to believe that once we have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, we are set and will no longer struggle with sin and its urges. It doesn’t say: “So long sin, hello glory!”
To the contrary, the words of the apostle Paul lead us to believe that sin will continue to be enticing. The opportunity to sin will continue to present itself. But…we have been empowered to live differently. Because we have died with Christ to our old selves and are recipients of the Holy Spirit, we can now live resurrected lives. It requires a choice on our part and a considerable effort to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. But God be praised, we are no longer held captive by those sins that we used to love or commit. They do not have to reign in our mortal bodies.
Two key expressions that indicate that Christian living requires work on our part are found in Colossians 3: Put to death and Put on.
Paul is calling for believers to starve their sinfulness to death by not giving in to sin and to nurture and embrace the virtues of a resurrected life.
This is an extensive list, and our prayer should be that the Lord strengthens us to follow it daily, to wake up every day and choose to put on the garments of righteousness.
Clearly this is not about exalting and pounding at our chests over what we no longer do, or pointing the finger at those who continue to live in the earthly nature and its sins. It is about living in a way that continues to glorify God and uplifts our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. It is about firstly showing love. Not love in terms of a flutter in our chest, but Paul describes love as the bond of unity among believers.
Reading his description caused a stir in my heart. I confess that I can be quite comfortable in my own little bubble. It is hard to reach others, spread the love of Christ, and be unified from the comfort of our separate bubbles. I am learning to die to self in this area, and for me this means sending out an unexpected gift, card or a phone call. It means thinking of others and their needs above my own little comfort square. The times I have willingly denied myself to be a representation of God’s love has been such a blessing to me and them. And each time, I know that this is what God has called us to in Christ Jesus, to have supernatural relationships that are based on what is right, pleasing and honoring to Him, not our own ideas of how we should live.
How does this passage instruct you?