How Can I Successfully Live the Christian Life? – Colossians 3:5-13

Colossians 3 is a bridge text that connects the doctrinal and the practical. In chapters 1-2, Paul states that Jesus Christ is over creation, salvation, and the church. In chapters 3-4, he emphasizes Jesus is Lord over every area of a believer’s life. Our verses today help us know how to live out the doctrine Paul has taught in chapters 1-2. If we want to live the Christian life, we cannot do it by ourselves. The answer to living victoriously is not self-righteousness, but Christ and His righteousness. Like children, when we try to clean ourselves up, we just smear and make a bigger mess! If you live in sin, sin wins. If you live in self-righteousness, sin wins because self-righteousness is sin. But, if you live in Christ, and let Him live in you, you will see the victory. Christ is all. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Because He is all, Paul teaches that we need to:

Put to Death Certain Things
“Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them” (Col. 3:5-7). Since we died, were raised, and are seated with Christ, we are to be dead to the old life and alive to the new life. Changing our behavior doesn’t change who we are. Jesus changes who we are! He changes our behavior. Christian behavior always follows Christian belief. The internal change brings an external change. We are to set our mind and hearts on things above and make a clean break from the old life. If a person who is addicted to drugs dies, someone can offer them all the free drugs they would ever want but they are not affected by it. They are dead. That is what it means to be dead to sin. You once walked in this lifestyle, but now you walk in Christ. This is more than a one-time act. It is not just a moment of faith but a life of faith. It is a daily decision to take off the old and put on the new. Ask anyone addicted to sin, it is a daily decision to win. You still have the old thoughts or old desires, but that is not who you are. We have to daily put off the old lifestyle and put on the new lifestyle. Just like parents celebrate after their child takes a couple steps for the first time, the Heavenly Father celebrates your progress and growth to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the deeds of the flesh.

Put Away Certain Things
Paul continues, “But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices” (v. 8-9). When you talk about another believer, blow up at them, desire to hurt them, or to hurt their name, you are doing these things to one of God’s children. We have the same father. What about lying? Our world loves a lie. The culture today is best described as lying to ourselves and to others. There’s flattery, exaggeration, expedience, etc. Don Carson said, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” We cannot do what we do based on how we feel. We have to act based on what we know. The Word of God tells us what God expects and He enables us to change!

Put On Certain Things
Verses 10-11 continue reminding us that all believers are being made into the image of Christ. All earthly distinctions begin to fade in Christ. We have to put away all the things that divide us and focus on what unites us in Christ. We have to take off the old clothes before we can put on the new. In verses 12-13, Paul tells us what we need to put on. He says, “…put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.” Compassion, humility, and patience are inward. Kindness, gentleness, and forbearance are outward. Then, Paul uses the word “forgive” three times! Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a fact. Forgiveness is a choice to release a person from a wrong done against you. We need to forgive and we need others to forgive us. People will disappoint us. We disappoint ourselves. We must learn to forgive others and forgive ourselves. Forgiveness is based on the atoning work of Christ on the cross and not on anything we do. Forgiveness is not easy or natural, but it is Christ!

Living the Christian life is hard! Praise God that Christ in us is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27)! Praise God that in Christ we can live victoriously!

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