9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
(Colossians 3:9-11 NIV)
In verses 5 – 8, Paul instructed us to put to death any sex-related sin in our life – both actions and thoughts that are outside God’s design for sex. Paul also instructed us to get rid of speech-related sins where we use our words to hurt or express emotions inappropriately.
In verse 9 Paul adds one more item to his list of things to put off, to remove from ourselves – lying.
And why does Paul tell us to rid ourselves of all these things (sexual sins and speech-related sins)? Because they are part of our old nature, who we were before we gave ourselves to Christ. Paul tells us to take off our old self, our old sin nature, including any practices associated with that old sin nature.
Paul goes on to tell us that God does not leave our hearts and minds naked and exposed after we take off our old sin nature. Without skipping a beat, Paul tells us to put on our new selves, which is in the likeness of Christ. Starting in verse 12 (which we will study next time), Paul goes into great detail about what the “new self” looks like, how it behaves, etc.
The second half of verse 10 says, “… which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” What is Paul saying here?
First of all, Paul tells us that this putting on of the new self is a process, not an event. There will be significant milestones of personal changes in our walk with Christ, but it is not a single point in time. Our walk with Christ takes our entire lifetime to develop and mature. The phrase “is being renewed” means that it has happened in the past, it is happening now, and will continue happening in the future, with no expiration date.
So how does this renewal take place? Paul says it happens with knowledge. As we learn about Christ, study His life, and become His follower, we take on His attributes. In short, we become more like Him in every aspect of our lives – our thoughts, our speech, our actions, our attitudes, our character.
Notice that Paul got in one more little point to refute the heretics in the Colossian church, when he said it was through knowledge of Christ that we are changed, in the image of our Creator. It’s not through following a list of do’s and don’t’s that the heretics were pushing. It is true knowledge of Christ our Creator that we are to follow, not the created rules of mankind. We were never designed by God to carry that heavy load of human rules.
In verse 11, Paul paints a picture of what this new life in Christ looks like. Paul says that we only have one identification, one association, and that is to Christ. All other human identifications – race, culture, gender, socioeconomic status, national affiliation, education, or any other thing is meaningless. The only thing that matters is our association with Christ.
Is Paul suggesting a life of anarchy here? Not at all. We all have these associations – race, gender, what country we live in, etc. Paul is not trying to make those identifications go away. In fact, he cannot make them disappear. What Paul is saying is that all these identifications and associations are secondary to our identification and association with Christ.
As we put off our old sin nature and put on the nature of Christ, may we not use our identifications to divide or separate us, but instead, use our association with Christ to unite us in Him. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. May we humbly remember for Whom we live for. The rest of the world is watching to see if Christ really makes a difference (or not). May our lives be a testimony for the positive, that others will see Christ in us.