3 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behaviour, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
This gospel about the glory of God in Jesus should make a difference to us as people who have put our faith in that Jesus. It should make a difference to how we live, to the people we are becoming, and to our relationships with others in the church and in the culture around us. The basis for this different life is that we have died and been raised with Christ to a new life. The means of living this new life begins with fixing our gaze on Christ and on the eternal reality rather than on this earthly life, which is corrupt and temporary. We are then to make sure we don’t put back on the old clothes which belong to our old nature (which we died to in baptism) and to the world around us that rejects Jesus. Instead, we daily clothe ourselves with the new nature. And this is not dependent on the social and natural distinctions of our society. From verse 12, we are given some indication of the kind of virtues or character qualities that this new life, or new clothes, look like. They are all expressions and aspects of the ultimate virtue of love. This means that it must ultimately be expressed in a community, living in peace with one another and mutual encouragement. The last few verses indicate this and then the next section develops this in more practical ways. We will finish our study by looking at this next time.
To Think About:
- Become who you are – in all the New Testament letters, any teaching on character transformation is always based on the truth that we are to become in experience who we are in essence (new creations in Christ – see Ephesians 4:20-24 for another example). The call to Christlikeness is not a call to reach an unattainable goal, but a call to ‘work out’ what God has already ‘worked in’ to us (Philippians 2:12-13)
- What do you think it means for you to ‘set your sights on the realities of heaven’?
- Look at list of old clothes of our old sinful nature (vv.5-9) – do you think that there are any that we can sometimes finding ourselves putting back on?
- Now look at the new clothes of Christian character that we are called to consciously put on (vv.12-15)-– what can you do to make sure you are continually putting these clothes on, so that they become a natural fit?
- Each day, over the next two weeks, as you get dressed in the morning, deliberately choose to put on the new clothes of Christian character in vv.12-15. Try to memorise the verses as you do so.
There is a PDF version of this Study here.