Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. – Colossians 3:9 (ESV)
I think there are three main reasons Paul gave this admonition, and we discussed two of them yesterday:
- Truthfulness is one of the pillars of strong relationships. Encouraging truthfulness among members of the church at Colossae helped strengthen the members – and the same is true today;
- When we lie, we sin against God. This along is reason for us to not lie.
The third reason, I think, for Paul giving verse 9 comes in the latter half of the verse…
“…seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.”
I think the third use of this verse is to remind us of what should be done with sin – it should be put off.
As I was thinking about what Paul is telling us to do with sin, I remembered who the audience was and is. Paul is giving these instructions to believers and telling them how they should respond to sin after beginning a relationship with Christ. Look back at the beginning of verse 1, “if then you have been raised with Christ.” The instructions in this passage are written for Christians. The instructions are informing, reminding and correcting readers concerning how their lives in Christ should be. These believers still – and continually – must put sin to death (v. 5), put sin away (v. 8) and, as we read in verse 9, put off the practice of sin.
He’s giving these comments to Christians. Therefore, he isn’t telling people how to reconcile themselves to God. He isn’t telling people how to earn their salvation by somehow defeating sin on their own. The phrase in verse 1, “if then you have been raised with Christ” is actually an in depth reminder of this. This is reminding us that when we follow Christ, we are buried with Him in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life. At this point, at our conversion, we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. Sin doesn’t go away, but Jesus has completed the job of reconciling us to God because of what He has done.
For many years in my life, I didn’t understand this concept. I believed in God and I believed that Jesus died for my sins. But I didn’t know what that meant. I thought that I had to do something to earn and keep my salvation. I thought that I had to somehow purify myself before I could present myself to God. I thought before I could go to church, I somehow had to get things right in my life. Wow, was I wrong.
In my mid twenties, I actually began attending church with my new bride. The Spirit of God began to enlighten me as I sat under Biblical teaching week in and weak out. I began to understand the word of God and actually thirst for it. I certainly was still a prolific sinner, but now my focus had been turned to God and what He desired. I began to understand that I wasn’t perfect and that I never would be – this side of heaven – and that Jesus had obtained this perfection for me by what He did.
I hope this passage illuminates the work Christ has done for you. It’s not about us. It’s not about what we’ve done. It’s about Jesus.