Friday, April 15, 2011
"Put on" (Colossians 3:12)
Paul's words about "putting on" are staggering when we consider the magnitude of rebellion against holy God. These are not to be passed over quickly. Paul is giving practical implications of a new life found in Jesus Christ. He is instructing the Church on what it means to take off the old man and "put on" the new man which is transformed by the gospel.
Colossians is such a beautifully structured letter because Paul right off the bat speaks about who Jesus Christ is. He talks about the Father's work in calling sinners out of the kingdom of darkness and transferring them into the kingdom of his beloved Son which is purchased through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. Then Paul talk about the greatness of Christ:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
This is Christ! He is God in the flesh, the second person of the Trinity and it should blow our minds that God would leave heaven to take on humanity. His purpose in coming was not for his benefit but for ours. He knew no other way was possible for sinners so he came to rescue us. "And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him" (1:21-22)
Not only does he save us by his blood but he makes us new creatures. This is why Paul can say later in the letter, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (3:1). The reason for setting our minds above is to have a single focus upon Christ. Only because of Christ's atoning death and resurrection can Scripture tell us to "put to death what is earthly in you" (3:5). This is impossible without the Spirit dwelling in your mortal body. But for the Christian it is possible to put those things to death with the Spirit's power. This is a great joy for the Christian. We can encourage one another to fight against our fleshly desires in order to pursue true joy in Christ. According to Scripture obedience to Christ is an overflow of our joy. We have been given the ability to become more and more like Christ. I'm saddened when correction or admonishment is given to a fellow brother or sister and they respond by saying, "Well I'm not Jesus." While that is true, the attitude behind it is an excuse to sin. Paul commands believers to put to death what is earthly in us and to "put on" seeking the things that are above.
Paul tells us to "put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." These are all perfectly displayed in the life of Christ. He is our example but that's not all, he is also our power in which we have the ability to actually be humble and patient and kind and loving. Paul can confidently tell us to "put on" these characteristics because he knows that in Christ we are new creatures.
Grace upon grace,