But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. – Colossians 3:8-10
One thing struck out at me when I was reading through this passage earlier. And that is the number of commands given and the way they are given. These are not given as suggestions, not things you “should” do, or ways you “ought” to live. This is how Christians must live.
If you think that we must live such a strict lifestyle to be saved you have it backwards. We live like this because we are saved. Why is that?
Verse nine gives us the answer: “seeing that you have put off the old self.”
You have, as in past tense. When we accept Christ something amazing happens. Our old, sinful spirit passes away and we are given a new spirit, one of holiness and righteousness, one that drives us to live set apart and that gives us the power to accomplish this.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Once you are in Christ you are a new creation, right now. The old has passed away, it is already gone.
This does not mean that we instantly become perfect and no longer sin, but it means that we are no longer bound to sin. Sin no longer has a hold on us. It is for this reason that a Christian’s life is now marked by Holiness and sin becomes the exception rather than the rule. Because to sin is to try and take your new, holy, sanctified, righteous spirit and put on the old rotten decaying smelly flesh. It is a gross contradiction.
For these reasons a Christian must avoid the old lifestyle.
But it is more than just avoiding sin. There are things we must do as well; things which will help us greatly in our struggle to live by our new spirit and not by our old flesh.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:12-17
Because we were chosen, we are to live a holy life. Don’t skip that, we are chosen, thankfully not because of our own ability, not because we are capable of living holy lives, but we can live a holy life because we were chosen.
How then do we live such perfect sounding lives? Verse sixteen has the answer when it says to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
It is the word of God that transforms our mind (Romans 12:2), that feeds our spirit and gives us the strength to live out this passage. As Christians we must be living in the Bible, making it a part of our daily life, dwelling on what it says; believing it.
But notice that this entire passage is not listing a way that we ought to live; how we should live. It is telling us how we must live. Because as Christians, as bearers of His name, everything we do, good or bad, everything, is representing our Lord. By calling yourself a Christian you are bearing God’s name.
So make sure that everything you do, in word or deed, is worthy of the name of the Lord. And then challenge yourself. Look at this list and find areas where you are failing or just not doing so hot, and then pray that God will help you in those areas.
Yes these are a list of things that we must do, but thankfully we don’t have to do them alone. We have fellowship of other Christians to help us, the Holy Spirit in us, and the Word of God to transform our minds to be more like Him.