Out With the Old | In With the New
You cannot replace the process of studying when it comes to learning something. Hands-on is a must, but digging into a subject to analyze and understand is paramount. The Christian life is very much this way. Of course the Lord takes us through circumstances that mold and shape us to reflect the image of God. But you cannot rely totally on the circumstances. It is not just about what you feel and experience, you must know the truth – the truth will set you free. Your heart and mind must engage the truth. When an individual walks the path of life, the truth that he or she has studied comes alive with meaning and application. It is the difference between wisdom and understanding: wisdom that knows what you should do and understanding that applies it to a given situation through the leading of God’s Spirit [Phil. 1:9-10].
My church [Westwood] just recently began a ‘Teaching Fellowship’ for young men in our congregation who want to grow in their ability to study and preach God’s Word. During the first weekend of October, each one of us will be preaching from an assigned portion of the book of Colossians. We have been given three weeks to study and write our manuscript [we are at the half way point].
Studying my assigned passage [Col. 3:12-17] has opened my eyes afresh to the urgent need to put off the old man and put on the new. It has also reaffirmed and solidified where the ability to put off and put on comes from. In the next few weeks, I would like to share with you what God is teaching me through this study. I hope you will join me.
The ability to put on
When you first take a glance at this section of Scripture, it can appear that we are the ones who sanctify ourselves. After all, the Scriptures are commanding us to ‘put off and to put on’. However, when you dig into the broader context, it reveals something very different. Verse 12 tells us to ‘Put on then, as God’s chosen ones…’ If we back up to verse 1 of chapter 3, we read, ‘If you have been raised with Christ seek the things that are above.’ So, there are two things we see that will help us understand the application that must follow. One, we did not save ourselves – we were chosen by God. Two, only because we are now raised up in Christ can we seek to ‘put on the new man or put off’ the old man. In Christ, we have been given new life – once we were dead but now raised to new life. We have the responsibility, but not the ability, to put on the new man – that, my friend, comes from Christ alone. And if you are in Christ, you now have the ability through His grace alone to walk in obedience. Victory is yours. If we could not save ourselves, it is a surety that we do not have the ability in and of ourselves to be sanctified.
Never lose site of this foundation. Upon it hangs the destiny of your soul.
Now that we have our foundation, I look forward to looking at the subsequent application of ‘putting off and putting on’ next week. Join me as we discover what that means and what it looks like.