In the last section, we saw Paul tell us how to live our new lives, by setting our hearts and minds on the things that are above, and not on the things of this world. In this section, he expands on this theme by listing items which are of the old life, and certain items that are of the new life in Christ. In verses 5-10a we get a pretty good idea of the kinds of things we are to “put to death” in our lives; these are all from our “old selves” and they include… sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry. He says we must rid ourselves of things like anger, rage, malice, slander, lies and filthy language. I’m quite sure that there is no need for me to elaborate on these things, other than to say that when our attention is drawn to any of them, it’s time to set our minds on higher things.
Verses 10 and 11 move in transition to the next part by pointing out that we are to move away from those old practices into a new way of living where there is no Jew, no Greek, nor circumcised or uncircumcised… and no other social or ethnic distinctions: only Christ. Verse 12 provides a summing up and conclusion in an interesting way:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
I hope that you will take notice of two things. First, who are “God’s chosen people” in the New Covenant? They are not old Israel; they are the redeemed in Christ. Recall that in verse 11 there is no longer Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, and in verse 12 “God’s chosen people”. Next, note the listing of things that are attributes of our new selves. These are coupled with his admonition in verse 13 to forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us, and then in verse 14 to put love over all of this.
Again, I doubt that I should need to expand this picture any further, other than to point out that love is over all things in the Christian life. How we interact with others, is all about love. How we relate to God, is all about love… and the old way of living is loveless, for it is all about self.
Overriding love amongst Christians is where unity can be found. We often wonder why it seems that the Church is divided; can you see why after reading this section? It’s because we are more interested in disputes about doctrine, tradition and being first, than we are on loving our brothers. May we all come to the day when we can live our lives as new creations, when we finally get that “old self” put into the grave for good.