Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: now that we are no longer under the Law through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we now have the knowledge of our sin. While this is good news to us, it also means that we are longer without excuse…we are no longer ignorant in our sin and must act accordingly. In 2 Corinthians 7:1, Paul exhorts us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” With this statement come the questions of what exactly is this filthiness and how much of this perfecting falls within our personal daily conduct? Paul’s letters provide the answers to these questions.
In his letter to the church at Colosse, Paul urges these fellow Christians to “put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.” He goes a step further and charges them to “also put away all of the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.”
So does Paul’s commands to this church in Colosse indicate that these responsibilities rely on our personal daily conduct? According to verse 5, we must put to death those behaviors and actions that stem from our earthly nature, especially those associated with sex. In turn, if these things are ‘dead’, then they should no longer be the focal point of our lives! On the other hand, verse 8 deals with those vices that we are charged to consciously ‘put off’. While we may stumble in these things from time to time, our ‘new self’ is continuously renewed each time Christ brings them to our full knowledge and we are obedient in putting them off.
In conclusion, while Paul declares the actions we must take to put off our old selves and put on our new, he also indicates that our actions are in perfect union with those of Christ. While we are putting to death some sins and putting off others, Paul assures us that Christ is in the thick of it with us, bringing them to our full knowledge. As long as we obey and walk with Him, we can victoriously proclaim ourselves new indeed!
- Colossians 3:5; 8-10 (HCSB).