In this passage the apostle Paul is challenging the Colossian church to put on new clothing and new behavior; putting on new clothing and new behavior is a vital component of spiritual growth.

Colossians 3:12 – 17

12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, 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. 16Let 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. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

One author said that “In these verses the Colossians were commanded to put on virtues that stood in brilliant contrast to the vices that [they] were previously commanded to take off…[this list is] the wardrobe of the saints, and what beautiful garments they are” because they are the new wardrobe that has been provided to ransomed saints in the work of the crucified, risen and returning Christ.2


What are some observations from the text; what do I notice about the passage at hand? The apostle Paul definitely wants his listeners to put on new spiritual clothing and behaviors that honor Christ (vv. 12 – 17). So, he begins with reminding his listeners of who they are: they are God’s chosen, holy, and beloved children (v. 12).

Therefore, since they are God’s chosen, holy, and beloved children, they are to wear the clothing of Christ centered love that looks like: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiveness as the Lord has forgiven them, peace with one another, unity, and gratitude (vv. 12 – 15).

Clothing that exhibits Christlike love is not the only thing Paul wants his listeners to put on, he also wants them to put on the behavior of Christ that is centered on his word which results in God’s Word living among the community (being a community of God’s Word), teaching, admonishing or encouraging each other in biblical wisdom, singing Psalms, hymns and praise songs with gratitude to the God who has ransomed and redeemed them; literally everything they do should be done in the name of Christ to the glory in gratitude for the good Father who gave Jesus as our Savior (vv. 16 – 17).

Why does this matter to you and me? This matters because, putting on new clothing and new behavior is a vital component of spiritual growth. So, how do we put on new clothing and new behavior then? The answer to that question is application!


Application means to believe and obey. The best way I know how to shake up what we believe and obey is by asking questions that hopefully lead to action. Questions like:

  1. When do I struggle the most with new clothing and new behaviors? Is it in my relationships with my spouse, family, friends, coworkers, or enemies?
  2. When and why do I have a tendency to see myself as forgotten, dirty, and unlovable instead of chosen, holy and beloved by God?
  3. Where am I failing to love someone right now? Who have I not forgiven? What has God forgiven of me?
  4. What behavior in my life is out of line with what God’s Word says?


As I close with a prayer, I want to remind us that putting on new clothing and new behavior is a vital component of spiritual growth. Putting on new clothing and behavior is a daily discipline that begins with prayer. So, my prayer (that could be daily) goes this way:

“Father, please help me to put on new clothing and new behavior every day. Help me to see myself the way you see me as chosen, holy, and beloved instead of forgotten, filthy, and unlovable. Please help me to see other people around me like you do so that I may truly forgive them and love them like you do. Father please give me a hunger for your Word and the courage to throw away any clothing or kill any behavior that is out of line with what I see in my crucified, risen and returning Savior. – Amen!”

Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).

2 R. Kent Hughes, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon: Preaching the Word Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2013), 309.