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New Self in Christ- Part II

May 8, 2022 | In Christ Alone | New Self in Christ Part II| Colossians 3:2-17

John Cutler

Senior Pastor

Everything that we have looked at so far has led us to this point in Paul’s letter

This is who you are in Christ. (wk 1- Identity in Christ)

This is who you should be becoming in Christ (wk 2- Maturity in Christ)

This is how you came to be in Christ in the first place. (wk 3- Reconciliation in Christ)

This is what your leaders and assembly ought to look like. (wk 4- Together in Christ)

This is what happened to you when Christ reconciled you. (wk 5- Alive in Christ)

This is how you live out your new identity. (wk 6- Life in Christ )

These are the things that do not fit with your new self (wk 7- New Self in Christ)

This brings us to our text today, Colossians 3:12-17, where Paul is going to shift from the things that do not ‘fit’ a Christian anymore to the things that should be replacing them.

The language he uses when he says put on and put off is figurative language that deals with clothing. The word put on is literally to sink into. It is taking off something that doesn’t fit anymore and putting on the appropriate clothes.

Some of you had this conversation with your kids this morning when they came out ‘ready’ for church. If you didn’t have it this morning, you have most likely had it before. Ladies, some of you had to have that conversation with your husbands.

“Go take that off and put something else on.” Why? Because the clothes they were wearing were not fitting for where you were going and what you were going to be doing.

In the same way, Paul has described the lifestyle that used to describe these Colossians, sexual immorality, anger, wrath, etc… who were once alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds but who had now been made alive in Christ and that lifestyle no longer fit. It neither fit them or was a part of who they should be becoming in Christ.

Paul is going to present the new lifestyle they should be sinking into and clothing themselves in.

I want to give you this morning, four descriptors of the new self in Christ. This is what Paul says should be the garments of our new self.

United in love

This is not the first time Paul has emphasized love to the Colossian believers. Both in chapters 1 and 2 he has made love a central part of his message to the church. In chapter 1 he says he has heard of the love that they had for all the saints, and in chapter 2 he shares his desire that their hearts would be knit together in love.

We dealt with this passage in chapter 2 during week four when we look at how Paul described a healthy congregation in Christ. I will remind you what he is saying when he says, Hearts encouraged, being knit together in love

The idea of being knit here is something compact, compressed together. So unified that it’s difficult to tell where one piece ends and another begins, like a beautiful tapestry made from different threads.

The church brings together all kinds of people from different backgrounds, different life stages, different ages, different ethnicities, different nationalities, and races. The potential for discord is great. But a church united in Christ will be a church united in love. It’s worth mentioning that the word Paul uses for love is not just emotional love, not a feeling of love, but agape.

Love that seeks what is best for another. Love that serves.

How does a church become knit together in love? Mutual submission to one another in the name of Christ. It is not about getting your way or having your preferences. It is about serving one another in love towards the goal of growing together in Christ.

Here Paul digs deeper into this idea of love being the uniting force among God’s people.

Vs 14- binds everything together in perfect harmony

Binds everything together- there are two ways of thinking about this, one a very literal way and one a more figurative way. The word binds everything together here is literally translate ‘with a band’. In this day people would normally wear loose flowing outer garments, it often became necessary to secure them so that you were ready to move quickly or like a soldier who was getting ready to fight. He would bind his garments with a belt or a girdle.

The more figurative way is the way it is translated in Colossians 2...from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments…

The same word is translated ligaments there to describe the way the body’s many different parts are held together. Ligaments help connect bones, joints, and organs and hold them in place.

This Paul says, is what love does for the body of Christ, it holds everything together perfectly, or in perfect harmony. Without love, the rest of these characteristics are easily disjointed and separated. Love is what makes the rest of it work. Let’s look at what Paul says is bound together by love. He gives us a few words to describe the Christian's life among the 'one anothers'.

The first five deal with our dispositions.

Compassionate hearts-bowels of mercy (sensitivity to people in need)

Kindness- moral goodness (sweetness of disposition)

Humility- lowliness of mind (proper estimate of one’s self)

Meekness- gentleness of spirit (opposite of harsh)

Patience- long suffering, endurance

The next portion is the outworking of our love and disposition.

Bearing with one another- literally holding with one another

Complaint- fault, quarrel

Forgiving- graciously giving forgiveness

As the lord- just as, even as, -in proportion as, in the degree that

How did God forgive us?

Paul has already told us that in Colossians 2:13-14 (ESV) 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

How did God forgive? Completely, so much so that it is as though you didn’t sin against him.

So- in this manner

Must forgive- literally-you do likewise

No wonder Paul said that love is the primary thing that binds all of this together. Love drives us to be compassionate, love causes us to be kind, humble, gentle, and patient, and love holds us together when it would be easier to be split apart.

No wonder Paul said that love is the primary thing that binds all of this together. Love drives us to be compassionate, love causes us to be kind, humble, gentle, and patient, and love holds us together when it would be easier to be split apart.

Love is the thing that unites us in Christ. Not emotional feelings of love, but real agape love that says, I want the best for you so much that I will lay aside my rights and privileges if it is for your good in Christ.

Immediately we see how opposite this is from our old life that Paul describes as one of selfish desire, of looking out for number one, of putting ourselves first.

That lifestyle does not fit with your new self in Christ. We are all to be united in love.

Second, Paul says we are to be…

Ruled by peace

Vs 15- And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed your were called in one body

Previously Paul used this word translated rule to describe the false teachers who were trying to disqualify these believers or 'umpire' them, by telling them they were outside of Christ because they weren’t doing certain things.

Rather, Paul says, the thing that should let you know you are in Christ is his peace in your innermost being.

Elsewhere Paul tells us where this peace comes from.

Philippians 4:5-9 (ESV) The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

When God called you to himself, you entered into his peace. You were no longer in enmity with God because of Christ. That is a judiial peace. But not only are you now experiencing peace in that way, but Paul also says that you can experience peace in an experiential way in your day-to-day life. A peace, which defies understanding.

This is a peace that is unshakeable.

This is a peace that can face down a doctor's diagnosis, betrayal by loved ones, or financial desperation. This is a peace that the world doesn’t know because it is not a situational peace it is a peace based on your relationship with God.

Early in my walk with the Lord, I had a friend that would constantly point me to this when I was facing a major decision. She would listen as Brittany and I would talk about what we were wrestling with, whether it was a ministry decision or something else, and we would list all the ways we had thought about it, maybe the conclusion we had logically come to, and she would just say, "do you have peace about it?"

Honestly, at first, this question annoyed me a little. Right?

When I was younger, I tended to the more intellectual side of things. Pros and cons, spreadsheets, etc.. and when she would bring up whether I had a sense of peace, it would throw me.

But as I’ve grown, as Brittany and I have watched the Lord work in our lives, the more I have come to understand the wisdom of that question.

When I feel God is calling me to something that maybe doesn’t make sense on paper, but he has given me a sense of peace about it, I have learned to lean into that.

Here is where we need to stop and put a caveat. God will never give you peace about something that is not consistent with his will. He can’t, his peace cannot be separated from his will.

God will never give you peace about something that is not consistent with his will. He can’t, his peace cannot be separated from his will.

God is not going to give you peace for your un-biblical divorce. I’ve had well meaning friends walk through a divorce because they fell out of love and tell me they had peace about it. You may have some sense of it being okay, but I find it difficult to reconcile God giving you peace with something he clearly condemns in his word.

Paul says here that the peace of God can govern or rule our life if we let it. Specifically here, he ties it to our relationship to Christ and one another. As a church, not only are we to be united in love, but when we are, we will not let the disruptions that occur rob us of our peace. We will be able to be compassionate to the needs around us, kind to those who are different from us, humble when it requires us to put others before ourselves, patient when someone is rubbing us the wrong way, forgiving when we someone is at fault against us.

Paul doesn’t say these things will go away, but that if we will walk in love towards one another, the peace of Christ will rule in our lives.

Paul’s next descriptor is in addition to letting the peace of Christ rule, is that we should be…

Led by truth

Vs 16- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Remember that one of the challenges they were facing was being led astray by false teachers and false doctrine. Paul says the answer to that is to be led by the gospel, or the word of Christ. He says it should dwell in us abundantly (richly).

The gospel should be central to our lives, and the evidence of that will be that it will permeate all our teaching and singing. This is for all Christians, not just those with the gift of teaching or those called to pastor.

The bible that all followers of Christ are to be discipling others. Discipling is teaching. Older women teaching younger women, younger women teaching children, older men teaching younger men, etc…

However, we can’t teach what we don’t know, so we fill our minds with God’s word, we dwell on it, we meditate on it, and let it fill us and set up shop in our hearts and minds abundantly. Paul gives us three ways we are to help lead one another with the truth. Two may be familiar to you, teaching and admonishing.

Teaching- This could refer to the official act of teaching from a position or the informal act of explaining something to someone.

Admonish- This is not harsh, but rather to warn gently, literally- to put it in mind. This is gently reminding someone of what God’s word says when their lives aren’t aligning, or when they are holding skewed doctrine.

But Paul follows it up with a third, possibly less familiar way we help lead one another with truth.

Singing- Paul puts singing on the same par as teaching. Sometimes we compartmentalize the service into singing and preaching, but singing is a corporate act where we confess the same thing together. It is vitally important.

This is one of the reasons we have moved away from regularly incorporating special songs where one person sings into our service while the rest of us listen. It can be beautiful and it can be rich, and it can be a great testimony, but I believe it separates singing from the corporate body which can tend to miss the whole reason we sing together. It is not just corporate praise but corporate teaching.

Paul then outlines a balanced diet of what we should be singing together.

Psalms- Most likely refers to the biblical song book of the old testament.

Hymns- These are songs of praise of God

Spiritual songs- Most likely refers to songs of testimony to God

Notice the important thing about what we sing is not what musical style accompanies it, or when it was written, it is the content that matters. Is it rooted in the gospel, is it instructive, is it full of truth?

Then we sing it to God, with one another, being conformed and instructed by the truth.

The word of God ought to be central to every element of our time together so it fills us so we can be led by it and help lead one another by it.

Paul’s last descriptor of our new life has been sprinkled through what he has been saying over and over again, so we won’t spend a lot of time on it. We are to be…

Filled with gratitude

Colossians 3:15 (ESV) 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:16 (ESV) 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Then he summarizes the guiding principle of our new self in Christ.

Colossians 3:17 (ESV) 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Be thankful- the idea here is to be grateful, specifically surrounding the peace of Christ ruling your life

With thankfulness- with graciousness in your heart as you sing and teach

Giving thanks- express gratitude

Notice, the progressive nature of gratitude in your life. Be grateful for what God has done, that gratefulness so fills you that you are led to sing it out for all to hear, and finally, he reminds us to express that gratitude towards God through Christ.

Here is the takeaway for us this morning. This new lifestyle, this new garment, as Paul says, that fits our new life in Christ should describe us not because we have a sense of obligation, not out of duty towards God, but out of a deep sense of gratitude to God for all that Christ has done for us.

Paul expected believers to live differently, not because they felt like they had to, but because they were so grateful for the life they had, they should want to live in a way that honors God and what he did in them by grace through faith.


Paul has clearly and definitively said here that when someone comes to Christ, when they are born again, there is a visible and demonstrable change that happens in their life. The way they lived before has been put off and their new self has been put on and is being renewed in the image of Christ.

We will be united in love, ruled by peace, led by truth, and filled with gratitude.

We have spent 8 weeks now digging into what Paul wanted the Colossian believers to understand about themselves, and in the coming weeks, we will examine his further instructions as he closes this letter. But here today we come to an important moment in his letter.

Have you put off your old self and put on the new self?

Have you come to Christ to be made new and born again?

If so, then the evidence of that should be in a life change where your life is looking more like this list than last week’s list each day. If not, if you have been trying to be better and do better on your own, hear me when I say, that’s not the way. The way to experience this life Paul describes is not in your own power but in the power of Christ in your life after you have been born again.

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