In Colossians 3:1-17 Paul is talking about putting off our old lives and putting on our new life in Christ. He challenges us as followers of Christ to focus our lives on Christ rather than on the things of this world. That doesn’t mean that we don’t live in this world or we don’t partake of the things this world has to offer, but we are not to look at the things of this world in the same way anymore. Christ is to be paramount in our lives. If we are followers of Christ, our focus should be on following him.
And so in verses 5-11 he then begins to unpack that idea by talking about things that should no longer define our lives. Since we have been made alive in Christ, there are some things that were part of our old life that should no longer be part of this new life that we have in him. So he is challenging us to recognize those things and get rid of them.
Christianity is not just about receiving a list of things that we are not supposed to do anymore. Rather, I believe, God has a better life, a deeper life in store for us than whatever defined our old lives. However, that old life is still there for us to choose, so Paul is calling us to choose to turn away from that old life and to embrace what God wants for us.
With that in mind Paul moves on to talk about the new life and what it should look like in us in verses 12-17. This list has some similarities to the Fruit of the Spirit from his letter to the Galatians and overall it is pointing us in a direction of what new life in Christ should look like. Hopefully we are growing in these areas.
Overall Paul’s emphasis is on putting off our old self and putting on the new self in Christ, but he makes several significant points that specifically revolve around our relationships with one another. Right now that is where we are focusing as a church. We want to learn and grow in this area of our relationships with each other as a church.
For instance, look at what Paul writes in verse 9: 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. (Colossians 3:9, ESV)
Now notice that Paul doesn’t just simply say stop lying, but specifically addresses the issue of lying to one another. Lying amongst ourselves is divisive and leads to distrust and disunity. We are called to be one body, and lying to one another directly attacks that unity and harmony within the body.
Considering the context, this could be referring to false teachers and lies they may be spreading. That is definitely a problem that needs to be dealt with. We need to treat God’s Word well and there is no room for false teaching.
However, what this verse really brings to mind for me is when we put on our church faces and go to church and tell everyone that everything is fine and that we have no problems. We lie to one another all the time to hide what is really going on inside, the sin and temptations we deal with, the struggles we face, the failures we’ve had, and the pain we feel.
We also sometimes lie to one another because we don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. So when we see something in their life that we know is contrary to God’s will, we are afraid to hold them accountable on it.
We need to be real and authentic with one another. And that means being both brutally honest and completely vulnerable with one another. That is scary, but if we work hard to build those kind of relationships with one another where that would work, then imagine how good it would be for us. Imagine if this was the kind of place where we could stop lying and just be real with one another. That would be refreshing wouldn’t it?