Welcome to Tuesday’s Foundation Podcast. It’s great to be looking at the Bible with you again today.
Each day this week, as we look at Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we are asking ourselves the question: what does this new life that Jesus has won for us look like? For the central message of Colossians is this: that through Jesus death and resurrection we die to our old life and are raised to a new one with Him. Yesterday, we were reminded that we are to ‘set our hearts on the things above’, and that as we look to Jesus, we remember he has a new life for us. It’s Him we serve. It’s Jesus we follow. It’s the Jesus life we seek to live out each and every day.
Today’s passage is chapter 3:5-11. Let’s look at verse 9 and 10 together:
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.
If yesterday was about being reminded of who we follow, who is the source of this new life, today and indeed the rest of the week is saying in practical terms – what does living this new life look like?
In chapter 3, Paul presents to the Colossians a new way of living. The examples he cites in the first part of the chapter (you can hear read out at the end) are what Paul terms ‘old life’ – Check out Tom Finnemore’s podcast from 18th January (see the STC website for the archives) for a helpful reflection on this old life/new life idea that Paul also talks about in his letter to the Ephesians.
So if that’s the old life, how are we to live this new life that Jesus calls us into? Or as Paul puts it, how are we to put on this ‘new self’? The answer, it would seem, lies in the fifth verse of today’s passage where Paul tells the Colossians that they are to ‘put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature’.
It takes us back to the image of the cross again. The crucified Jesus. In that moment, which looks like utter defeat: to sin, to all the things that are wrong with this world, the things that have power over us and separate us from our creator, it’s actually the point of THE great victory won for us.
How can we live differently? We live differently because of Christ’s power at work within us. He has won! When Paul says ‘put to death our earthly nature’, he knows full well that on our own it’s impossible to live that different life. Our ‘earthly nature’ is to sometimes lie, to get angry, to want things others have got, to desire others, to speak badly of others…the list goes on. We can’t change that on our own, we can’t live a totally different life to that purely in our strength, through sheer will power and discipline.
But through the power of Christ at work within us…we can.
When Jesus died, as Paul writes in chapter two, he nailed the old life to the cross and said, ‘It is finished.’ This old way of living is not for you anymore. And he rose to win for us the new life. The new self. The new identity we have as a child of God.
I like this metaphor that Paul uses here of putting on the new self like you put on new clothing. When you buy a new piece of clothing, a new set of shoes and wear them out, others notice. ’That looks good on you,’ ‘These are great’ or as my two year old daughter would say…‘So nice!’
Our vision this year is to ask others to join us in building communities that bring about God change in our society. Every time we put on the new self, every time we choose to follow Jesus, to live in the opposite spirit to the examples Paul cites in today’s passage. Each time we speak highly of someone else, we are patient, we tell the truth in a gracious way, we are pure in the way we think, talk and act – it’s attractive. And do you know what, even though many people might not say it, there are some who are thinking – ‘That way of doing things..it looks good on you. Maybe it could look good on me?’.
A life lived differently is a very powerful thing. It’s an attractive thing. A life lived differently will make others curious to discover it for themselves Why? Because it displays the power at work within us of the one who is all powerful and through whom we discover life, and life in all its fullness. A power beyond the powers of this world and its old life. A power that enables us to throw off the old self and put on the new.
Jesus, we come before you today aware that we so often find ourselves falling back into the old life, the old way of doing things. Jesus, we turn to you and ask for forgiveness. We ask that you would fill us with your Holy Spirit this day so that we can put on again the new self. That we can live out this new life you have for us at home, school, at work. And that we would be your witnesses to those around us. Amen.
READING: COLOSSIANS 3:5-11
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 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. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.