Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselveswith compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
– Colossians 3:12-14
Over lunch a friend of mine confessed his struggles with lust. After getting everything off his chest he said something like, “I guess we’re all sinners. That’s just the way it is.”
I agreed with him, “Yes, we’re all sinners. But that’s not just the way it is. It sounds as if you given up on resisting sin. You’ve been called to so much more. You’ve been called to Christlikeness.”
With plates of food still on the table, I pulled out my phone and we walked through Colossians 3. Put your hearts and minds on things above. Put to death your earthly nature. Put on the things of Christ.
In Colossians 3:5-11 Paul offers exhortation to get rid of the earthly nature: lust, anger, deceit. Paul speaks against the destructive way of life. In 3:12-14, Paul aims to build up the church and cast a vision for a new way of life in Christ. The new way of life is directed by virtues of the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of earth, and is governed by the true king – Jesus.
To fully grasp this passage we need to look at our identity.
Your Identity: Chosen, Holy, Loved
We’ve already discussed our identity in Christ in vv1-4. We died with Christ and we are raised with Christ. We’ve already discuss our identity in v11. Christ is all and is in all.
In our passage today we get further detail on our identity. The church is chosen by God, holy, and loved. These three terms are used in the Old Testament to describe the privileged status of Israel. We don’t have the time to explore this morning but you can look to:
- Exodus 19:6
- Psalm 105:6
- Hosea 11:1
These words now describe the church. Through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ this identity is now available to us. To you.
You might feel unwanted, unholy, or unloved: God loved you so much that while you were a sinner Christ died for you. That’s Romans 5:8. Allow it to form your identity.
With this identity comes a call to action.
Your Call to Action: Holy Habits
Now that you have stripped off the old way of life, Paul now exhorts you to put on a new wardrobe. You are to put on Christlikeness. You are to put on kingdom virtues. You are to put on holy habits.
Paul once again provides a list that is not exhaustive. But it’s a really good start: Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love.
As you put to death the earthly nature, you will find yourself with idle time. It might be idle time once filled with gossip, drinking, pornography, unforgiveness, stress, worry. For those things to remain in the coffin you’ve placed them, you must put on holy habits.
Your earthly nature of lust, anger, deceit must be replaced with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love.
My friend that I mentioned earlier: In his confession and attempt to deal with his lust issues made the statement: “The first look is free, right?” Meaning: I’m allowed to look for a little bit as long as it’s not too long and as long as I don’t act on it.
I said, “No. You have trained yourself to look at women as objects. You have trained your eyes to look upon women with lust. You’ve trained your heart to be OK with lust.”
Put that to death and take on holy habits. I instructed him: Spend more time with your wife. Spend time in prayer with your wife. See people as people created in the image of God not as objects ready for your lust. When you begin to lust, repent.
I said it to my friend and I’ll say it to you this morning: “Yes, we’re all sinners. But that’s not just the way it is. You’ve been called to so much more. You’ve been called to Christlikeness.”