Putting off and Putting on
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
- Colossians 3:9-10
When Paul writes about the new life that we have in Christ, he doesn’t give us an exhaustive To Do List. Following Jesus transforms us to the core.
Paul repeats this pattern in his writings: take off your old self, be made new, put on your new self. Can you see that pattern played out in today’s passage?
You can’t put on your new self without also taking off your old self and being made new. You don’t want to plant your flowers in a weed bed. Baking a cake in the uncleaned pan you used for a pot roast will lead to disastrous results. The old has to go away even as the new arrives.
In the verses immediately preceding today’s passage, Paul encourages his readers to get rid of the following: “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires … greed, … anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language.” Let’s take just one of those and see what an impact it has if it isn’t removed as you step into your new life in Christ.
Slander involves making false and defamatory statements about something else. Imagine that slander continues to run rampant in your life as you attempt to join the wonderful, complicated, diverse, vulnerable community that’s called the church. You keep saying untrue negative things about people behind their backs. How will that impact your relationships? How will that shape this community? Some will believe the false statements and others will see through them. Either way, trust will erode. The new and love-filled community that God wanted for you will slip from your grasp. What a tragedy!
Look at the list Paul gives: “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires … greed, … anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language.” It’s not exhaustive.
What would you add to the list? What do you need to be intentional to put off even as you move forward with Christ?