“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3v12
Imagine a farmer who has worked outside all day in the hot sun. By the time he returns home he is filthy – covered in sweat, dust, grease and grime. After taking his shower, would you expect him to put on the same set of dirty clothes? Of course not! Now that he is clean one would naturally expect him to put on a clean set of clothes – garments that are fitting for his new state.
Silly as this illustration may seem, it might help us to better understand one of the main themes in Colossians. The letter has highlighted the new life that the Christian enjoys in Jesus: we have died with Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, and have been raised to new life through faith in Him (2v12, 20). We have been spiritually [washed]by Christ himself, through the removal of the old, sinful nature (2v11). The result is that the Christian is effectively a new creation – our lives are now hidden with Christ in God (3v3), and we are His chosen people, holy and dearly loved (3v12)
It is important, however, that we live in a manner that accords with our new identity. Put differently, we need to become in practice what we already are in our spiritual standing before God.
Like that farmer who needs to discard his dirty washing, we need to put to death the sins that belong to the earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (3v5).
Likewise we need to get rid of things such as anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language (3v8). The dirty garb that marked our old way of life need to be replaced with a clean set of garments: we are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
We are then to put on love, which is like the overcoat that covers everything else (3v14). Thus, practical holiness in the Christian life is not merely a matter of moral endeavour: rather, it flows from an understanding of what God has done for us in and through His Son Christ Jesus, and the new identity we enjoy as a result.
- Bryan Marx, Grahamstown Baptist Church