The Gospel Lived
A new life (1–4)
Paul focuses on the positive aspect of a new life. If the Colossians are genuinely in Christ, they are to “seek the things that are above” and set their minds on things above .
Although these two commands are similar, they are not synonymous. The first deals with affections — believers’ hearts are transformed, resulting in both the ability and desire to delight daily in Christ. In the second, instead of being captivated by earthly things that are passing away, a believer meditates and dwells on the Lord. Since they have died with Christ, they also will appear with Him in glory, possessing all the full rights of citizenship in heaven. So seek the things that are above.
Put off (5–11)
Since Christians have a new life in Christ, they must “put to death” sin. This means Christians are to reject the sinful ways of their past and embrace their new life in Christ. Those sins include “sexual immorality (sexual relations outside marriage), impurity (the resulting character of immorality), lust (uncontrolled sexual urges), evil desires (sexual temptations that become a focus) and greed” (a hunger to please self at all costs). In essence, these all are forms of idolatry or idol worship because they evidence that one loves the flesh more than God; to cling to them will result in His wrath.
Now all things in opposition to God must be “put away.” Paul raises the bar for Christians also to set aside anger, wrath, malice, slander “and filthy language.” A Christian, then, must hold on to the Holy Spirit’s control over his or her thoughts, actions and speech. Paul does not mean Christians are perfect. Far from it! Instead, he reminds them that in Christ, they have taken off the old clothing of their sinful nature and have been clothed with a new nature and the power to be renewed in the “knowledge according to the image of your Creator.”
Christians are part of a new family of various races, backgrounds and ancestral religions. Since Christ is all in all, believers must put off the things of the flesh and live for Him and His glory.
Put on (12–17)
Paul now switches from the negative to the positive. The same motivation that prompts Christians to put off the old self encourages them to put on the beautiful new “clothing” appropriate for children of God.
Salvation depends on His grace instead of human goodness, and appeals for compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness focus on Paul’s concern for unity in the local church. Thus, putting on these things is not for the individual Christian only, but to build up the very Body of Christ.
The final piece of the “garment” is love. A church cannot have unity apart from love. Furthermore, love, when it has its full effect in the community, results in peace. Paul emphasizes the shalom or peace of Christ ruling or reigning in the heart, with thanksgiving. Christians live up to these lofty standards as the Word is preached, and it dwells richly among believers.
In conclusion, Paul tells believers to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” who will provide strength. Thus, Christians can “give thanks to God the Father through Him” and do all they do in His name with gratitude. Jesus, the true, divine and human image of God, the one whose cross secured our reconciliation, is the reason for our gratitude and the one “through whom” we can now offer that gratitude to the Father Himself.