Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Colossians 3:1-11 New Heavenly Self-Identity

KEY TEXT: Colossians 3:1-3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

KEY THOT: Paul asserts that Christians are dead people: “for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (v.3). Of course, Paul is referring to the old self which has been crucified with Christ in our baptism. So when Christ was raised and ascended to the right hand of God, believers are also spiritually seated with Him at the right hand of God: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). So, we are not only dead in Christ, we have also been raised to life in Christ and are reigning with Christ “in heavenly realms.” Our life is now hidden with Christ though our new self-identity is not obvious to us. But one day, “when Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:4). 

So, if we have died in Christ, we should “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (v.5). Instead, we should be living a life that is consistent with our new self-identity as heavenly citizens, not getting embroiled again in such sinful behavior like “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language” (v.8). We need to progress in our self-identity from being "forgiven sinners" excusing ourselves in sins (like chicks scrapping for worms) to "exalted saints" excluding ourselves from sins (like eagles soaring high above the earthly fray). 

The reason we can put off the old sinful self is because it is already dead. We should not resurrect what God has put to death in us by reviving it. Instead, we should live like people who have already “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” (v.10). 

Our new self-identity is based on the image of Christ our Creator, not on whether we are “Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free” (v.11). In other words, our new self-identity must transcend our religious affiliation (“Greek or Jew”), our religious practices (“circumcised or uncircumcised”), our ethnic identity (“barbarian, Scythian”) and even our social-political status (“slave or free”). We are to based our new self-identity on Christ alone (solus Christus). We are Christ-ians first and last. Our self-identity is not defined by our race, political party, religious practices or social-economic groups. 

We should emphasize  what unite the Body of Christ universal, not what divide us so that Christ alone is glorified.

Father, thank You that You have put to death our own earthly self-identity based on our religious affiliation and practices, our ethnic groupings or our political preferences or socio-economic status. Instead, You have given us a new self-identity that is being renewed after the image of Christ the Creator. May You unite Your church around this new heavenly image so we are not divided by our earthly self-identities. Amen.

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