‘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 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 Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.’
(Colossians 3 v. 5 – 11)
As well as the image of dying and rising, in this letter, in reference to the old and the new life ‘in Christ’, Paul now introduces the idea of ‘taking off’ the old self, with its earthly nature and sinfulness, and ‘putting on’ the new self, with Christ’s righteousness, and the fruits of the Spirit.
We talked for a bit together at our Monday evening ‘Bible Month’ session, about how our growth in holiness, in becoming more like Jesus every day, ridding ourselves of bad habits (Wesley would say ‘ruthlessly eliminating sin from our lives’), is utterly dependent upon the work of God’s (Holy) Spirit in our lives, and yet at the same time requires an act of will, and a healthy environment of accountability (Wesley’s ‘watching over one another in love’). It’s why the early Methodists, who’d set up a ‘holy club’ (nicknamed so) at university, established intentional accountability / discipleship groups (Methodist Class Meetings) to enable such growth.
We liked the notion, too, that the ‘new self’ is in a continual state of ‘being renewed’ – we are not finished yet, until the perfect image of the Creator is restored in us.
Finally, too, how glorious to be in such a new community of people of radical inclusivity, where there’s no distinction between race, tradition, culture, background, social class, for ‘Christ is all, and is in all’.
Lord, as I take time each day
to clothe and re-clothe myself
for different times and tasks throughout the day,
may I equally make the time
to take off all those bad habits, traits and characteristics
which belong to the ‘old self’,
with Your help, by Your Spirit.
Clothe my with Yourself, today, Lord Jesus.
Renew in me Your true image , today, Creator Father.
Break down every barrier and division, and make us ONE, Holy Spirit,
for Your glory, and for Your kingdom on earth.