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New Creation

If you want a description of what a Christian life should be like, I think there could be none better than the one from the letter of the Apostle Paul to the church at Colossae: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, meekness, gentleness and patience. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity”. Colossians 3: 12 - 14


You may think, this is all very well, but an impossible standard for fallible human beings to achieve; and of course you would be right! But the letter is addressed to “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved”, and not to the world in general. It is addressed to people who by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, should strive for such a standard and go someway in achieving it. Paul describes it in terms of clothing, like taking off old soiled clothes and putting on new clean ones, “seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its Creator”.


When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for salvation, and looking to Him to make us fit for eternity, nothing can ever be the same as it was. We become a new creation, outwardly the same, but inwardly completely changed. We have died to the old self, and now, in union with Christ, have been resurrected to a new self. We see ourselves for the first time as we really are in the sight of a holy God, and the things we might have thought of as acceptable, or excusable behaviour, are seen as old filthy rags. As soon as we see this we can’t wait to get rid of them and put on the new spotless clothes of righteousness that we have received as a gift from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. What it means is that we must live in the reality of what we are now in Christ, inseparable from Him, crucified with Him, risen with Him, ascended with Him, and hidden with Him in God. In writing to the Christians in Rome, the Apostle Paul says that we are to know ourselves as ‘in Christ’; not that we are to struggle that somehow Christ may be in us.


The simple word ‘therefore’ often appears in Scripture as it does I my opening text. I like that word because it tells us that what is written follows as a direct result or consequence of what has gone before. So as we think about clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, meekness, gentleness and patience, we must look back to what has gone before to see what makes this a logical conclusion. Earlier in his letter, Paul exhorts the church in Rome to: “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”. We have died to what we once were and have become one with Christ, part of His body, the Church. What He does, we do; where He goes, we go. So, because we have this union and communion with Christ and are a new creation, we have a new standard of behaviour which is incompatible with what we once did.


By virtue of our union and communion with Christ, our past, present and future is covered. We have been justified (past); we are being sanctified (present); and shall be glorified (future). Justified means that we have been acquitted, declared righteous. Sanctified means that we are being made more like Jesus. Glorified means that we shall inherit all that Christ is, and will share in it eternally. When He comes again we hope for the perfection of our happiness. When He comes again there will be a meeting of all the saints, and those whose life is now hidden with Christ shall appear with Him in that glory which He Himself enjoys. “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy, and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, meekness, gentleness and patience. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity”.


Derek Burton


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