Col 3:3 - For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.
We have died to our old selves. We have been raised new creations and hidden in Christ. But...what do we do now?
Col 3:5 - Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (which is idolatry),
Col 3:6 - on account of which things' sake the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience,
Col 3:7 - among whom you also once walked, when you lived in these.
Col 3:8 - But now also put off all these things: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, shameful speech out of your mouth.
Col 3:9 - Do not lie to one another, having put off the old man with his deeds
Col 3:10 - and having put on the new, having been renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
Col 3:11 - where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave or freeman, but Christ is all things in all. (emphasis is mine)
The above scriptures hold some very key action words.
- Put to death
- Put off
- Do not lie
- Put on
Col 3:12 - Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender feelings of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering,
Col 3:13 - forbearing one another and forgiving yourselves, if anyone has a complaint against any. As Christ forgave you, so also you do.
Col 3:14 - And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.
The scriptures above have only two actions we should perform.
- Put On
It can be difficult to put on some of the characteristics in Colossians every day, such as 'tender feelings of mercy.' There will be days we don't feel like displaying tender feelings of mercy to anyone...particularly when we are on the receiving end of an injustice. Our emotions have very little to do with the decisions we make. We can override any emotion we feel by choosing to feel or do something else.
Remember the movie The Karate Kid when Mr. Miyagi was teaching Daniel how to "wax on - wax off?" Watch the clip here. Daniel had no idea the household tasks he was performing each time he visited the karate master's home were in fact teaching him moves he needed to defend himself in a fight.
Putting on the armor of God and the other characteristics are no different than the principles in the short clip I included above. We might not be able to see how what we are learning is benefiting us at that time. The more we consciously put on tender feelings of mercy, or practice forgiveness, or practice holding our tongue when we want to defend ourselves, or practice kindness, the easier those things become and eventually they will become a part of who we are...a part of our new nature. We will then begin to set ourselves apart from the world with the love, kindness, humility, mercy, and forgiveness we show others.
The characteristics in Colossians are also the same as some of the fruits of the Spirit in Galations:
Gal 5:22 - But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 - meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Fruit does not grow overnight. If a pear tree is planted one day, it will not produce pears the next. The tree must be watered, pruned, and cared for until the tree begins to grow its fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is no different. This fruit must be watered and cared for over time so that it will grow into fullness and mature fruit at the time of harvest. Nothing happens overnight and there are no accidents. A fruit orchard left on its own with no tending will be choked out by weeds and the trees will no longer produce fruit. The fruits of the Spirit are no different. We must be keeping ourselves free of sin, free of all of the things that will prevent the fruits from growing.
Gal 5:17 - For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And these are contrary to one another; lest whatever you may will, these things you do.
Gal 5:18 - But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Gal 5:19 - Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness,
Gal 5:20 - idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies,
Gal 5:21 - envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
We need to begin to recognize the difference between our flesh and the spirit. It can be difficult to do so in a world that makes little recognition of the things of God. Our traditional churches are also making it difficult to recognize the things of the spirit vs. the things of the flesh. We must measure everything against the Word of God. We need to understand that if we continue in the paths of sin we have been walking, then we SHALL not inherit the kingdom of God. The list of fleshly works is long...lustfulness, adultery (sex with someone other than your legal spouse), fornication (sex outside of marriage), murder, drunkenness, etc. Those things are easily identifiable as works of the flesh and not the spirit. But what about idolatry? or Sorcery? Jealousy, anger, division, heresy? How easy is it for us to recognize those types of behavior? Idolatry doesn't have to be a graven image we bow down to. An idol is anything that we hold in higher regard and worship than we do our God and King. Can you identify sorcery? Do you read your horoscope? Do you pass along chain letters? You know the ones...pass this letter along to prove you love God or something really bad will happen or someone die...etc. What about placing a curse over someone? "You are just like your father" or "You are just like your mother." What happens if mom or dad or both is a drug addict, a bully, an alcoholic, a child/wife abuser? What does that person think about him or her self? "I hope one day someone hurts you like you have hurt me." "You are no good. You will never amount to anything." Those are all curses in some form. Seems silly to consider some of those things curses, right?
Take another look at verse 17. Whatever you may will, these things you do. We have choices to make. We have behavior to put off and we have behavior to put on. So, it isn't "just the way you are." You have a choice in the matter. How will you choose? Which behaviors will you choose for the world to see you produce? Will you be the light and the sale of the earth?
Father, I ask that You be with each and every person that reads this post today. Lord, as we go throughout our day, remind us we have choices to make about our behavior. I ask that each one of us will be the light and salt to those around us today. I pray that we would be a blessing to others and bring Glory to Your Name. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.