When Paul writes to the Colossians about a new life in Christ, he is serious about what it entails. It has the ring of something he wrote in his letter to the Romans, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Put to death the old man, put off the sinful behaviors of the flesh and put on the new man renewed in the spirit of your mind.
Put to death the old man
Putting to death is an act of violence. It means taking away whatever gives life such as oxygen to a fire or life to a plant. The part of you that belong to your sinful flesh, kill it. He lists them: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and covetousness which is idolatry. It seems a straightforward list but upon reflection I wonder about covetousness. Is there anything in my life I desire more than God? Kill what ever gives life to the deceitful heart.
Paul explains why. God hates sin and His wrath is towards it. Yes He poured out His wrath on the cross. Yet only those who find their refuge in Him are safe from God’s wrath. The cross changed everything. Before the cross we lived out our old way of life. Now we live out our new life in Him.
Put off the sinful behaviors
In addition we must put off certain behaviors. Again, he makes a list: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, evil speech, and then one whole verse about lying to one another. Putting off requires action. It is a process and it takes times. Put off these things. Put it off like an old winter coat on a summer’s day. You don’t need them any longer.
Put on the new man
Instead he writes, Put on! The new man dresses in white robes of righteousness. These Christ purchased by the blood of the cross. Study God’s word and be made new in the spirit of your mind. Paul writes to the Romans, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and to the Philippians, “meditate on these things,” and to the Corinthians, “take every thought captive.” Now be renewed in the spirit of your mind. God’s Spirit now lives in us. As this new person is in Christ, there are no earthly divisions for Christ becomes everything.
Like newborn babes, as Peter 2:2 says, “desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” And for the mature the writer to the Hebrews says, “everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are full of age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Put to death the old man, put off the sinful behaviors of the flesh and put on the new man renewed in the spirit of your mind.