Colossians 3:1–17. Putting Our Theory Into Practice. If…..

Key Notes: Safe and satisfied? Sex and aggression.. The hidden life. Death as a way of life. The two steps: take off, put on.

In chapter 3, Paul turns the light on the moral work of believers. This moral work is not a set of do’s and don’ts, but a process of transforming the inner person. It is called sanctification and it is a required spiritual exercise. Paul calls on the Colossians to make a major move. The application of this lesson is that every Christian will be led to renounce all sinful attitudes and practices and put on the righteousness of Christ. That is a challenge most of us do not often face.

3:1–4 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

“Set your minds on things that are above….”
“You have died and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

He is reviewing what he just finished saying in the previous chapter:

“ …and you were buried with Him in baptism in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” (2:12–13)

Write down some of your personal ruminations.

If I have found Christ, what more is there to seek?
What are these "things that are above"?
How do I "set my mind"?
How can my life be hid with Christ in God?
What is a hidden life?
Will I be with Him in glory, or just bones decaying in the ground?

3:5–11 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you. “ “For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (3:3). What is earthly in you? He spells it out: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness. In a word, Lust. Although Lust is well spoken of in our society, these sexual sins are under the wrath of God. They are evil. Put them to death.

Put these away, too: anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk. And lying. Nor any discrimination based on race, economics or culture. These are all sins of hostility and aggression. In a word, Anger.

3:12–17 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones (Gr. eclectic), holy and beloved, …compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing, forgiving."

Most of all, put on love; that ties the knot and secures the package. "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts….”

“…you…have put on the new nature. (3:9–10)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you. Teach one another and admonish in all wisdom. (Do we dare?). Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness.

Do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him. We pray to God, through Christ, and in the Holy Spirit.


Paul repeats many themes in Colossians.

Paul uses repetition to teach. He intends that we get the point and move! He challenges us with IF!

If you have been raised with Christ,
If you are born again,
If you really are a follower of Christ, take the next step. Kill It! The verb “nekrosate” (we have necrosis in English) is in the aorist imperative, demanding prompt and definite action—death.


What is a life hidden with Christ in God? Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest” offers several suggestions under the word “hidden”:

Don’t be self-conscious in your Christian life. Strive not to be noticed.
Work for God and not for the approval of others.
“Soak” yourself in God.
Expect His peace and complete security.

The hidden life has a hidden dimension: our subconscious thoughts and our dreams. Even these can be brought under the Holy Spirit's control.

By the lists of sins, Paul describes the old nature in its raw sexual and aggressive power. We have within us two wells of power, one to possess, the well of desire or lust, the other to destroy, the well of aggression or rage. There are links within them, so that the act of rape may be thought as motivated by lust or rage, and  probably both at once. God has put powers within us for good: desire, for procreation and personal advancement, and anger, for defense. Sin has exaggerated, subverted and corrupted these powers. The evil must be cut out, as a cancer is cut out, leaving the good normal tissue to thrive.

What is Paul's method of killing the old nature?
Put off the old nature; put on the nature of Christ. Get out of your old clothes and put on the new. Elsewhere Paul gives us three other guide verses.

“Reckon (consider) yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. “ (Rom.6:11)
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies to make you obey their passions.” (Rom.6:12)
“Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.”(Rom.6:13)

Reckoning yourself dead is not a difficult idea. A dead body is one that does not respond to its environment. Grandma, lying in her silken casket does not listen to the music, smell the flowers, listen to the mourners or the gossips. She does not even feel the silk. She does not know where her wedding ring is. She is dead.
When we have reckoned ourselves dead, the pornographic image, the taste for tobacco or narcotics, someone pushing our "hot button" leads nowhere; we do not react to those things any more.

But Paul has already said that we have died and our life is hid with Christ in God. How do we reconcile having already died yet being commanded to kill our old nature? I think this is an expression of our two-step sanctification. We are called saints by God’s declaration (Sanctification. I) when we are born again. We are commanded to be sanctified, a work we are to complete (Sanctification. II) in the practice of the Christian life. The Corinthians were called “saints”, but Paul spells out huge problems that they must work out.

“…nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (ICor.6:10–11)

I have thought that Paul would have us chip away at the old nature, giving it less and less room and the new nature more and more space, but never trying to eradicate it. Paul is not saying that.

“The verb nekrosate, meaning literally ‘to make dead’ is very strong. It suggests that we are not simply to suppress or control evil acts and attitudes. We are to wipe them out, completely exterminate the old way of life. ‘Slay utterly’ expresses its force. The form of the verb, ‘aorist imperative’, makes clear that the action is to be undertaken decisively, with a sense of urgency. Both the meaning of the verb and the force of the tense suggest a vigorous, painful act of personal determination.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. F. Gaebelein, Edit. Colossians by C. Vaughan. Vol. 11, p.221)

But Paul would say of himself “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” (Phil.3:12).

That is the negative side. While we are putting off  the sinful nature, we are also putting on Christ.
“Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time, and so much of your money and so much of your work. I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it…. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself; My own will shall become yours.’”
(The Quotable Lewis. C.S. Lewis. W.Martindale, Jerry Root, edits. Tyndale,’69; p.571)

Will you tell God that you don’t want to let sin die out of you ….not just yet?
Or will you tell God that you want to be united with Christ in His death and in His victory over your old nature? Now.