Summary: Exposition of Col. 3:5–14
The Clothing of the Heavenly Citizen
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col. 3:5–14).
What type of clothes are you wearing?
In our society, typically you can identify someone by the type of clothes they wear. A businessman will probably be wearing a suit. An athlete wears sporting clothes. A policeman wears a uniform. Sometimes not wearing the right clothes can have drastic consequences.
John MacArthur tells the story of one golf club owner who was lounging around his club late at night in drabby clothes. The police grabbed this man and took him to jail, where they found out that he was the owner. He was missing the right clothes.
Often in Scripture, clothes are identified with attitudes or actions. We see this in the armor of God passage in Ephesians 6. We are called to put on the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, etc.
Similarly, in this text Paul uses the clothing analogy to describe actions and attitudes that a believer must put off and also put on. He says in Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
In this context, Paul has been teaching the Colossians about their new position in Christ. Listen to what he said:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:1–3).
The believer has been raised with Christ and is now seated with him in the heavenly realms (cf. Eph. 2:6). This happened because at salvation we were all baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). This is called the baptism of the Spirit, which sadly has become a controversial doctrine in the church. As a result of this baptism we constantly see Scripture teach that we are “in Christ.” There is no condemnation to those who are “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1). We have received every spiritual blessing in heavenly places “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
We have a new identity because of our relationship to Christ and a new position in heaven. It is because of our heavenly position that Paul calls for us to think on things above (Col. 3:1). We are to be consumed with the things of heaven—mainly God and his kingdom. We are residents of heaven, consumed with its affairs. Scripture actually calls us citizens of heaven. Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul says in this text that our clothing—our attitudes and actions—must reflect our heavenly position (Col. 3:1). There are clothes that should mark the citizens of heaven. Can people tell that you are a citizen of heaven by the clothing you do and do not wear?
Jesus said, “The world will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another” (John 13:35). Many Christians look no different than the world. Instead of being heavenly, they are earthly. Paul actually called the believers in Corinth worldly because their attitudes and actions did not reflect their new identity in Christ and their new position in heaven (1 Cor. 3:1). In this lesson, we will look at the earthly clothing that is no longer fitting for the believer to wear and also learn how to put on the heavenly clothing that reflects our new position in Christ.
Big Question: How should the believer’s heavenly position affect his or her clothing?
The Heavenly Citizen Must Take Off the Old Clothes of Sin