In this passage the apostle Paul is challenging the Colossian church to take off the old and put on the new; getting rid of the old junk and embracing the new life in Christ is a vital component of spiritual growth. Look at the text with me…
Colossians 3:5 – 11
5Put 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. 11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.
One author said that “The more we put off the old nature, the greater freedom we have for the renewal of our new self, according to the image of God” because our old self is like prison chains that prohibit our freedom to grow into the image of Christ.2
SCRIPTURE AND OBSERVATION
What are some observations from the text; what do I notice about the passage at hand? I definitely cannot miss the fact that Paul wants his listeners to break free from the old junk in their lives and put on the new character of Christ (vv. 9 – 10).
To get rid of the old chains and to put on the new Christ like character, Paul’s listeners must kill what is earthly and deserving of God’s wrath; things like sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, covetousness, and idolatry (vv. 5 – 6).
Paul literally tells his listeners to get rid of their old selves, to put away the ways in which they once behaved, not just some of it but all of it: anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lying to one another (vv. 7 – 9).
Once the old stuff is dealt with, Paul says his listeners can get to work on the new stuff by putting on the new self regardless of who you once were; you and I can put on the new self and be continuously renewed unshackled from the filth of the past because Christ is our “all in all” or our completeness (vv. 10 – 11).
Why does this matter to you and me? This matters because, getting rid of the old junk and embracing the new life in Christ is a vital component of spiritual growth. So, how do we get rid of the old junk and embrace the new life in Christ 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:
- What old earthly junk needs to go? What chains do I need to break free from? What old thought patterns, habits, addictions, unhealthy relationships, coping mechanisms, behaviors and sinful attitudes need to go?
- What new things is God calling me to put on? What part of my character needs to be renewed to look more like God? What fruit of the Spirit is God wanting to grow within me? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5).
As I close with prayer, I want to remind us that getting rid of the old junk and embracing the new life in Christ is a vital component of spiritual growth. And we cannot forget that our spiritual growth is much like an ongoing construction project that will be complete once and for all in Heaven. So, my prayer goes this way:
“Father, please show me where we are at in the construction process right now. Please help me to get rid of the old earthly junk that seems to have attached itself to me. Give me the wisdom and strength to kill all earthly forms of pursuing love, acceptance, security, control, and power. Please me the spiritual insight to see the new me that you are renewing and reshaping after the image of my crucified, risen and returning Savior. Help me to become more and more like Jesus every day. – Amen!”
1 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), 305.