Have you ever felt like the guy in the picture? He seems afraid to take off the mask. Changing ourselves can be very difficult, even when we want to change. But it is possible. Keep reading to discover how.
Today we conclude our study through Colossians 3:5-11, which we started here. In verse 10, Paul writes, with the old self torn off, we “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge of the image of its creator.” This is an image of something that is made better than it was before. This is “the new self which is made new in knowledge,” (L&N) and knowledge here is that which is definitely known. It is true. There is no room for debate. I’m not going to focus on putting on the new just yet. That will be part two which we will study further next week. This week we are focusing on taking off the old.
Notice how transformative this renewal is in verse 11. The implication is that the renewal that takes place, which Paul just mentioned in verse 10, leads to a knowledge and situation in which there is “neither Greek nor Jew, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, free.” In Christ people of all ethnicities, skin colors are equally included, even those who are violent enemies, because Christ is all, and in all. This is a community of people who have taken off the old clothes.
Christians, we are people who live a different way, the way of Jesus. We are people who no longer live the old way. We take drastic action to remove the old way, the old clothes of sinful behavior and thoughts from our lives. In my own life, and in the lives of others I have observed or counseled, this process of removing the dirty clothes is rarely easy or quick.
First, it involves admitting you have sin in our life. Admit it to God. Admit to people close to you. And admit to people you have hurt. This is called confession. It is hard and humbling, but confession is the first step. It is the seeing that there are actually dirty clothes on us. In this process, we might not be aware of the dirty clothes, or we might actively be avoiding them, even though those close to us know we have a problem. We simply need honest, loving people to tell us the straight truth. Some of us are emotional infants, some of us are immature, though we might be old in human years. Some of us have cultivated for decades an echo chamber around us, people that tell us what we want to hear. We need people in our lives to speak truth to us, and that will require humility and teachability.
Second, do the hard work of changing your ways. Sometimes this happens cold turkey. But that is rare. God is more than capable to help us stop sinning cold turkey. Most often though, the Spirit helps us day by day, week by week, slowly make change. This might require getting professional therapy. It amazes me how many people know they have a problem, but are unwilling to get help. They are just fine allowing those dirty clothes to stay on. That is a sin of apathetic jaded immaturity. Instead we Christians are people who tear off those old clothes. The old ways likely won’t all come off at one time. But as our hearts desire to look more like Jesus, then our actions, our thoughts, our desires will change.
What do you need to tear off? No one has arrived at a place of perfect maturity yet. This is for anyone and everyone. We are all in need of God’s grace and all in need of his strength to do better in a new area. We all have things that need to be removed. How can this be more than a blog post, but an actual change of life for you?
Check in next week as we’ll talk about the new clothes we are replacing these old clothes with.