Colossians at Christmas – Day 25 – Merry Christmas!

Fulfill the Ministry

“And say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.’” Colossians 4:17 (ESV) For reference read Colossians 4:7-18.

Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Barnabas, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, Archippus, Nympha – these are all names mentioned in the last section of Colossians. From the way Paul writes about them or refers to them (Barnabas is used mainly as a connection to Mark), they are all in gospel ministry. This is an encouragement to the church. One can assume that Paul mentions each person, believing that by doing so it will make an impact on the Colossian church. 

Just before Paul signs off on this letter of reassurance to the Colossians, he instructs them to say these words to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received from the Lord.” I do not know the situation with Archippus. But his challenge for him is a good one for us today. The challenge also reflects the life of Jesus, the gospel itself.

Jesus, the whole reason we as Christians celebrate Christmas is to honor Him. From the lowliest entrance into the world to the cruelest death, Jesus was faithful to fulfill the ministry He received from the Lord. He was faithful to God. He was faithful to us. 

False accusations, unbelief, hatred, betrayal were all encountered by the only sinless man who ever existed. Even His purity did not save His life. But it saved ours. Through His mighty power, He could have corrected all of the wrong being done to Him. But He did not. Not because He was weak, but because He was the only One who could fulfill the ministry set before Him – the world.

If you believe in Jesus – that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a torturous death, and rose again from the grave thereby conquering death – then you have a ministry before you. We are all called to fulfill the ministry of the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). I know the temptation can be real and heavy to give up in any measure of the term. Life is hard and the One person who was able to live it sinlessly was murdered. What is our plight? The same sin that led to the death of Jesus is the same one that is in us. He came to redeem us. God in flesh – something never before seen or done – came to not only dwell on the earth, but to dwell in us. We no longer have to be plagued by sin. We get a new life in Christ, we get hope, we get Jesus Himself!

As I have reflected on this Christmas Day of 2022, there is a sense of bittersweetness and hope. I cherish Christmas memories and traditions. We made many today and leading into it. We potentially started new traditions. My heart swelled at the thought of giving our children gifts that would bring about much laughter and play. I reminisced on days gone by and loved ones who have passed, making each year even more different than before. Sadness and joy, love and longing, pain and peace. The gospel is ever present in these thoughts, largely because we have been so focused on it in Colossians during this advent. 

I have been challenged greatly through this study. Truly, I would love to study Colossians even more! The message of the gospel keeps ringing in my head, daily challenging me in my responses – with my spouse, children, coworkers, friends, family. While I feel like I daily fail to communicate the gospel even solely in my responses, the failure draws me to the gospel. It draws me to grace. All sufficiency is in Christ. Who knew a baby born so long ago could be what I need – what we all need – the most?


Fulfill the ministry. 

Merry Christmas!

Colossians at Christmas – Day 24

Merry Christmas Eve!

Wise Steps, Gracious Lips

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6 (ESV)

I have a confession. Recently, I encountered a situation that brought about the chance to put into practice these verses. I failed, epically. While completely justified in what I said, I did not say it with grace. My tone reflected my anger. To make matters worse, I did not know the person on the other end of the line. Repentance has occurred, but I still wish there was recourse to apologize to the person.

Why do I mention this personal offense? In part, because this is the first example that came to mind upon reading this verse. This is also a sharp reminder of the need for dependence on God for grace to respond. And we need it every day.

“Outsiders,” those who do not know Christ, are watching. They are listening. They are impacted by what we say and do and how. Using every opportunity to be gracious is a primary way we advance the kingdom by living out the gospel. 

Walk wisely. Walk with an attention to knowing that you have an impact on your surroundings. This is not intended to feed anxiety in a fear of man sense. Think of this more like using whatever situations are before you to speak and act in a way that reflects Christ. This could look like speaking encouraging words of others rather than gossiping. Speaking good things instead of complaining. Responding with gentleness to your child, spouse, roommate, employee instead of with impatience. Being kind, patient, and gracious instead of responding in anger.

We also get to be salty, but not in the sense that we know it today. I think you will like the ancient cultural reference better, though. Garland writes, “‘Seasoned with salt’ was used to refer to witty, amusing, clever, humorous speech. Their saltiness will prevent them from being ignored as irrelevant bores” (The NIV Application Commentary: Colossians/Philemon, p.274). Paul is basically instructing us to not be boring! 

Since Paul is being short and to the point, I will try to keep it that way today, as well. This Christmas, we will all likely encounter plenty of opportunities to speak with grace (particularly with the children). Let these verses be on your mind today and employ their message in your words, thoughts, and actions. Not only will you not regret doing so, but you will be speaking in a way that impacts the kingdom. 


Take wise steps.

Speak with gracious lips.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Colossians at Christmas – Day 23

Prayer (Advancement of the Gospel)

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison – that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:2-4 (ESV)

Paul begins to wrap up his letter to the Colossians with an ardent plea: pray for the advancement of the gospel. He is on a mission. And he wants to continue on his mission to proclaim the mystery of Christ (the gospel) to as many people as possible for as long as possible. 

Have you ever been to the Billy Graham Library? It is located in Charlotte, NC. Calling it a library can sound a little less than exciting for some. Really, “museum” or “experience” are better suited terms for what you encounter. I am moved by the gospel every single time I go. His life is well shown, even more so, his attention to the gospel. The gospel – Jesus – was his life! And it is evident in every room and conversation there. I dare you to visit and not be invigorated for the gospel afterward.

This is a modern day example of the passion that I think Paul had in proclaiming the mystery of Christ. Even in prison he did not want the mission to cease. He was in prison because of his mission! 

There are instructions here for the Colossians and they are for us, as well. Continue praying. Do not give up. Pray with an “on the lookout,” expectant, hopeful mindset. Look for what God is doing. Thank Him.

Pray for others who are on gospel mission every day. This is not exclusive to those who are in full-time ministry, though they very much need prayer, too. Do you have a friend who has been consistently sharing the gospel with a coworker, neighbor, family member? Pray for them. Pray for you, too, that gospel opportunities would open up and that you would have the words to speak to make it clear. Look expectantly for these opportunities.

Over the next few days, many of you will encounter family or friends for holiday festivities. In many cases, not all of them will know Jesus. Pray for opportunities to advance the gospel. This could look like showing compassion on someone who is struggling and needs hope. Maybe you are the one that will get to speak hope into their lives. Please do not go into your family gatherings on the offense (or defense) ready to convert everyone! Simply be ready to show glimpses of the gospel in every way you can. 

I have a personal request. Will you pray this over me, too? Will you pray this for the team at Restoring Hope Counseling? We encounter a lot of darkness on a daily basis. Pray “that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:4). We desire to offer hope to the weary soul, burdened by the effects of sin in this world, burdened by life. Pray for us.


Pick at least one person to pray for who is on gospel mission.

Pick at least one person to pray for that you are not sure if they know Jesus.

Pray for yourself, for gospel opportunities. Thank God for them and for the hope of the gospel!

Colossians at Christmas – Day 22

Do Your Part

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” Colossians 3:18-4:1 (ESV)

Each verse in this passage deserves its own post. But for now, we will give attention to the overall points being made. Highlighting the heart and perspective from which these came provides clarity on application.

As with any ancient text, it is crucial for our understanding to gain knowledge on the cultural context. I have referenced this commentary several times during these writings and highly recommend reading it to further delve into the contextual understanding: The NIV Application Commentary: Colossians/Philemon. One of the key elements he addresses is what the legal rights were at that time for all parties mentioned. What Paul was saying supported the legal normative while at the same time challenging the Christian. No matter where he or she falls in the roles of life, living with the new nature that has been put on impacts one’s character in carrying out said roles.

I want to make a note here. Paul does not and is not supporting abuse. God is not supporting abuse. This whole passage actually speaks to the opposite. For those in positions of authority they are challenged to be loving and honoring in their conduct. This falls heavily on the men, particularly.

Keep in mind, everything up to this point is centered on Christ. The last several admonishments have been about living in Christ and how that impacts our actions. Using the thought that all parties mentioned are giving attention to Christlikeness, these instructions make more sense. 

There are a few themes of character that stand out to me. Humility, love, kindness, integrity, sincerity, just, fair – all are addressed here. Does this sound familiar? It should, because much of this was mentioned in 3:12-17, but now Paul is very briefly applying these new nature characteristics in roles that the Colossians would understand.

What does this mean for us now? I like to think of marriage with three terms: unity, humility, and integrity. Division and discord will happen if you are against the person with whom you are one. It is like being against yourself. An approach of humility is not responding with defensiveness when your spouse says you hurt them in any way. Humility would own up to the wrong done (even if unintended) and genuinely apologize, seeking repair in the relationship. Integrity means you are honoring your spouse always, regardless of who is or is not around.

These same principles apply to all other relationships, which is essentially what Paul is conveying. Each role has its own kind of emotional and spiritual presence along with the obvious physical one. Even if we were to apply the main three of unity, humility, and integrity to all of our relationships with others, we would do well to experience more harmonious living.

2 Challenges: 

Which characteristic mentioned challenges you the most? Ask God to help you today (and every day) to live it out. Praise the Lord when you notice yourself responding differently. 

We can all use the reminder to treat others well, particularly this week during the Christmas rush and festivities!

Colossians at Christmas – Day 21

Whatever You Do

“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.” Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Paul seems to use this verse to connect what he has said up to this point with what he is about to share. The reminder is, no matter what you say or do, do it for the purpose of God Himself. You are not putting off the old and putting on the new so others will see how great of a person or Christian you are. You are not striving to satisfy the opinions and standards of others.

Opportunities to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, loving are all in the name of the Lord. Teaching and encouraging one another is in the name of the Lord. Singing is not only for the Lord, but also in His name. Why is this important to recognize? If we have any other motivation in what we say and what we do then the tendency can be to point the response back to ourselves. Or we expect more out of the people with whom we are interacting. 

What can this look like? If I am trying to be patient with my child on my own, then I will build this dependency and expectation on myself to always be patient from my own strength. This is not sustainable. And if I am using patience solely for the purpose of wanting my child to change, then that can cause frustration. Again, it is not sustainable. 

What if I was patient in the name of the Lord, simply because He provides a way for me to be and propels me to be patient? If I were Paul, I probably would have said to do everything in, by, from, for, and because of the Lord Jesus. But that seems a bit excessive. That is, however, the gist of what he is trying to communicate. Everything we say and do carries the name of Jesus. He is the One who provides the righteousness to function in a way that reflects Him, thereby pleasing God. 

We have to remember this! Whatever means whatever. Anything. All of it. 

Are you frustrated at work? Try adjusting your drive and focus to doing your work in the name of the Lord and not for man. Praise God for the work.

Are you getting overwhelmed with all of the holiday festivities and to-do lists that have yet to be done this week? Try approaching each event or preparation with thankfulness and in the name of the Lord Jesus. See if it shifts your perspective from a place of stress to that of grace.

What if you loved your family in the name of the Lord? How would that change what you anticipate during Christmas gatherings? When you feel empowered by God Himself, the things you say and do and the way you respond to others may surprise you. 

Here is my challenge for you today: ask yourself if you are trying to function from your own doings and strength or are you seeking to take action in the name of the Lord Jesus? If a shift in perspective or power needs to happen, remind yourself that what you are doing is in the name of the Lord. And thank Him for the opportunity and the provision to do what is at hand.

Colossians at Christmas – Day 20

Word and Worship

“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.” Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

There are two key components to this verse with two subsets. The first is “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Its subset is to teach and admonish. The second component is to sing. Its subset is “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

We have great capacity to dwell. Many do not consistently dwell on good things. Worry is an example of dwelling gone awry. In this case, the word of God is to be within you. You are its dwelling place. In order to get it there, though, you will have to dwell on it first. I recommend picking one verse or passage to spend time thinking on for a week. See how much more you grasp by doing so. Or start memorizing a verse or passage. 

This text is specifically referring to “the revelation which Jesus Christ brought into the world” (The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, p. 1582). Imagine dwelling on that so much that you recognize the word of Christ is dwelling in you. That is powerful!

As a result of the word of Christ dwelling within, this would lead us to teach others. We would encourage and communicate with wisdom. The word of Christ is impactful not just for you but for the entire body of Christ! None of us knows everything there is to know about God or the Bible. I love when we can learn from each other and walk in wisdom together. My effectiveness as a counselor is largely dependent on this truth.

Now we get to the second component: singing. Did you know that, to my knowledge, there is not a verse in the Bible that says you have to have a great voice to sing? We have a unique and precious gift to sing corporately with fellow travelers in this journey of faith. I like to think of it as a glimpse into heaven (not that we will be singing 24/7!). No matter how anyone sounds, if you are singing in a large group corporately, the sound pulls together and unites us with each other and our Creator. So beautiful!

Recently, I was asked what “hymns” referred to in this verse and how do you know if a song is a hymn. This sent me on a sporadic treasure hunt to find some answers. I will leave you to the Google search of how to determine if a song is hymn worthy in the present. But, what I discovered looking into the Greek words for “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” is that they all tend to be synonymous with one another. “Psalms” really does refer to the Old Testament psalms that would have been passed down through the years and any that would have been written since. “Hymns” has an origin in celebration and could be referred to as a “song of praise” (Ibid, p.2297). Then we get into “spiritual songs” and this pulls all three together. The qualifier “spiritual” is there because songs were used for expression of praise to any god (Ibid, p.2316). 

Another factor is to sing “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Now I know that can be difficult. There are times in life when it is hard to sing at all. The thought of being thankful feels like a burdensome task you cannot muster the energy to complete. When the focus is on proclamations of who God is, though, it can stir about thankfulness in our hearts. If we are declaring through song that God is faithful, He is our peace, He is our comfort, then we can respond in gratitude that He is our hope. 

There is also a biological factor in singing. I tend to give this as a counseling homework assignment: sing. Belt it out! The reason is because singing (particularly loudly) engages your entire core, connecting the lower half with the upper half at the point of the diaphragm. When we withdraw, we do so more in the lower part of our core. When we engage and connect, it is with the upper part of our bodies. Singing can help to reset your system, reduce your stress level in the moment, and keep you from shutting down (not always, but it can help). Add in worship to the Creator and it helps you connect with Him, too. We really do receive a lot when we worship (often without knowing it).


You have probably already guessed the challenges for today: meditate on the word and sing! 

I would love to hear if there is a specific verse you chose or what song you belted out (or both).

Colossians at Christmas – Day 19

Peace Can Rule

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

What is rulership? According to the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, the word “rule” could also be interpreted as “act as arbiter.” I love the definition of arbiter, particularly within this verse. An arbiter is “a person with power to decide a dispute” or “a person or agency whose judgment or opinion is considered authoritative” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

​​Let the peace of Christ settle the disputes within. Our issues with peace revolve around our beliefs about God, others, and ourselves (but primarily about God). What are your inward disputes?

Think of an issue this week that has frustrated, angered, or worried you. If you have not resolved it in your heart, then there is a dispute within that needs to be settled. Who are the ones arguing in your mind? What are the messages? 

This could look like:

My spouse does not understand me. My need of connection is not being met.

My boss is so demanding. I can never seem to get anything right.

I do not want to be alone. What if something happens to me?

My kids are about to drive me up the wall. I need a moment where I am not needed!

I am messing up this whole parenting thing.

I do not like the way I look. I could stand to lose a few pounds. 

I wonder what she meant when she said _____? 

What if I said the wrong thing?

In reality, this list is much longer. We could all contribute to the list with our own frustrations and worries. Add to the mix hormones, hunger, tiredness, and physical demands of life and you have a recipe that does not promote peace. 

God knows all of it. He knows we are frail human beings. He knows our breaking points, our stressors, the intensity of life. Because life can be incredibly difficult at times (for some, constantly), Christ offers peace. Peace does not often come in the removal of our circumstances. Peace comes from looking to the authority of Christ to settle the dispute. 

God is always good (even if we do not see it). He is for us. Christ is the only One who has ever sacrificed Himself for you to the extent of being falsely accused, beaten, tortured, and murdered. Then He conquered death! And if that were not enough, He sent the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) to us to help us live this life with hope, illuminate the Word of God for us, and make us more like Christ. We are not without resources!

These disputes in our minds come down to this: whose voice will we heed? Whose voice is better – ours or God’s? I think the biggest problem that gets in the way of peace is that we think our rulership is better or will produce better results than God. 

What God offers us is not too good to be true. It is good. And it is true. Be thankful that it is, for we need the Word of God with His promises and character to be true.

Challenge Questions:

What does your internal dispute say about God? (If it is a question about Him that comes up, try turning it into a statement. For example, What if He takes everything away? This would turn into something like, God takes everything away. He is a taker and not a giver. He does not provide. These are examples.)

What truth (Scripture verse or verses) would help you to bring your dispute to the authority of Christ, resulting in peace? (Another shout out to “Preach the Word” by Hayley Morgan – there is an appendix with examples of common thoughts and Scriptures to help.)

Colossians at Christmas – Day 18


“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:13-14

Entire books have been written on the headline of this passage. As much as I would love to walk through the various elements of forgiveness, that will have to be reserved for another time. For today, I would like to provide you with practical steps on how to forgive. 

But first, consider the text. Forgiveness appears to be within the umbrella of love. (1 Corinthians 13 backs this up.) “Bearing with one another” is brought up more than once in New Testament writings. Paul continuously draws the church to unity. Forgiveness reflects love that only Christ can truly give. When we choose to forgive, we look like Christ. Among believers, the aim is unity. 

Think of music. If you are listening to a band and one instrument is not playing the correct notes, or is not in tune, or is off in timing, that person sticks out. The one person impacts the sound of the entire band. They are out of sync, out of unity. 

The same holds true among the church. We are not effective for the kingdom when we are not unified. Love binds us in “perfect harmony.”

Here are a few thoughts to consider regarding forgiveness:

Feelings do not always immediately follow forgiveness.

Do not expect to forget what you have forgiven. Your brain is not designed to do that.

The person you are forgiving may not receive your forgiveness. They may not even know you had to forgive them. 

Forgiveness does not automatically produce reconciliation.

You consistently require forgiveness, too.

A mentor so graciously walked me through the following how-to of forgiveness. I have added the first step, but Mrs. Darlene deserves the credit for it all. Walking through these steps can be so freeing. This exercise can also be very draining, so I recommend that you carve out time to be able to refresh or rest after walking through it. Seek to be alone and undistracted for this. Another tip, do not try forgiving more than one person at the same time. (This is not the only way to forgive, but it is a way that makes it less elusive and works well with how your brain is designed.)

Forgiveness Exercise:

  1. Spend time exploring Scripture about forgiveness. This could be employing a word search on the topic or paying attention to the themes of redemption in your current Bible reading, for example. This does not have to be rushed. The purpose is to focus your mind on what Christ has done to redeem you so you can forgive someone else from that understanding.
  2. Grab paper and a writing utensil. Get alone. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind all of the offenses toward you of the person you are seeking to forgive. 
  3. Write out the offenses. Be specific. You do not have to write an entire paragraph, but your brain and spirit need to acknowledge what you are wanting to forgive. Instead of putting the word “betrayed” write why you feel betrayed. 
  4. Once you have written it all out, go back through the list one-by-one. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. With each offense, say out loud that you forgive that person of the offense through the power of Christ (or the Holy Spirit, or God, whichever name of God you want to use). The reason you want to say it out loud is to emphasize to your brain what you are forgiving. Then, when memories pop up (and they will) you can remind yourself that you have already forgiven it, so you do not need to entertain thinking of the offense any longer.

This Christmas season, I pray that you will walk knowing you are redeemed and hopefully feeling a little lighter upon walking through forgiveness.

Challenge Question: Did someone come to mind as you read this? Are you willing to forgive that person?

Colossians at Christmas – Day 17

Put On

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12 (ESV)

To understand the character of the One who is instructing us to “put on” these Christlike qualities, a visit in Genesis is in order. After the fall of man, meaning the first man and woman sinned, God graciously clothed them. “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Sin does not equip us to live a life that pleases God. But God, in His mercy and grace, lovingly places on us the ability to live reflecting the character of Christ. (Sometimes we need to hear these truths over and over to change the way we think and believe.)

Ephesians 4:24 says, “And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” This is not a burden to follow through with, but an instruction that offers life and hope by not having to be a slave to the old “man” or nature. The new self has already been created. It already looks like God. We are not having to generate the qualities of Christ.

I want to be clear, because if this passage and similar ones are read without a perspective of grace, then they can feel imposing and demanding. We are made righteous in, by, and through Christ alone. The grace that flows beyond salvation is in the act of sanctification. He grows us over time. While yes, He does make radical change happen quickly with some, for the majority He is sanctifying us along the way. As we grow, as we learn to be humble in Him, we will be more compassionate, kind, humble, meek, and patient. 

Paul himself experienced radical change. He went from sending Christians to their deaths to being a Christian himself. Though he experienced a major change quickly, he still was being sanctified until he joined Jesus in death. 

Let’s play a game of “Would you rather?” Would you rather:

Be critical or compassionate?

Be mean or kind?

Be defensive or humble?

Be overbearing or meek?

Be impulsive or patient?

On the flip side, which would you rather experience from others? Ask those same questions. We cannot demand others put on what we are not willing to do ourselves. 

Put on, pick up, take, receive – whatever wording is helpful for you, use it. While I can easily poke holes through the analogy that follows, it is what I can come up with for the time being. You are freezing cold and Christ is offering you a coat. Put it on.

What does this look like? Take patience, for example. The next time you feel angry, frustrated, impulsive, notice it. Tell the Holy Spirit something like, “I am feeling frustrated. Patience feels hard. I feel like I can’t do it. I need you to be patient for me in this moment.” And then trust that He will. You may not feel patient immediately, but you can function in patience when you are teaming up with the Holy Spirit and depending on Him. The more you submit to the Holy Spirit, the more you will see the fruit come out in your life. The things that anger you now will likely not be as bothersome to you in the future. 

Challenge Question:

Over the next week leading into Christmas, what would you like to focus on in the “put on” list? For me, I am feeling the need to focus on kindness and meekness. What about you?

I encourage you to remember that you are chosen, holy, and beloved by God. He wants this for you, too. Ask Him to help you “put on” the quality you are focusing on for the week.

Colossians at Christmas – Day 16

Out With the Old

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:5-11 (ESV)

Before you read this, it may behoove you to go back and revisit the previous passages that discuss that our entire Christian life is all about the work Christ has done and not that of ourselves. This is vital to keep in mind as we discuss actions that align with being in Christ. I believe it is crucial that we see commands and actions from the viewpoint of the gospel. To walk in obedience is in response to the gospel, not in effort to obtain it.

Let me ask you something. When you first believed that Christ died for you and conquered the grave for you, what did you anticipate would happen next? Like many, I had this expectation of not sinning. And perhaps I knew and you know that is an unrealistic expectation, but the way such a belief reveals itself in our lives tends to be through shame. We get so caught up in the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ that we miss the grace and freedom of what we can do. 

Paul names off various sins and states of being in this passage. But this is not an exhaustive list. And while I would love to unpack each word he mentions, I would rather spend the time in the days to come on what to put on versus off. His list reflects the reason that Christ died (“On account of these the wrath of God is coming”). A mind set on what is above will not produce evil. Christ propels us and gives us a new nature. With that new nature comes different desires and habits. Things of the old nature bring a friction to the soul that likely wasn’t there before.

God has given us so much opportunity to walk in freedom. He is not about to shame us. The freedom that stems from grace brings transformation. Paul says you once walked in them, lived in these sins. You cannot live in them and reflect Christ at the same time. If you are looking like your Creator, you are going to look less and less like the sins of the world. 

For a lot of us, putting “to death” sin is not natural. Here is what it can look like, though. I commit a sin. At some point, I realize there is something amiss in my spirit. The conviction of the Holy Spirit will not leave me alone until I face what I have done. He reminds me of the truth and that I have sinned against a holy God. Likely, I beat myself up for it, and then get frustrated with myself for expecting me to never sin. Sigh. Have you been there?

Then enters repentance. Sorrow for grieving the Holy Spirit within, for not walking in a manner that reflects Christ, for disobedience – comes to the surface. I recognize this before God and praise Him for His forgiveness, for His mercy, for His grace. What’s more, there is a begging for His help to transform me in this area. I know He will. I know He is. If He wasn’t, then there would not have been such conviction. I do not want to look like something I am not. The old nature is no longer a reflection of who I am in Christ. This is what repentance looks like for me (and usually not quite as elaborate as described). 

Again, this is not a promotion for striving for perfection. This is about learning what it is like to receive Christ and walk in Him, looking more and more like Him each day. If you want to function best according to how you are designed, you will want to put to death the things that rob you from flourishing. 

Challenge Questions:

To which sin mentioned did you say “ouch?”

Do you actually “put to death” and move forward or do you ruminate over the sin? 

Reflect on verse 10, “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (We will discuss this a little more in the next section.)