New Life in Christ

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Colossians 3:1–10 NRSV) So if 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. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.

One of the first works of God the Holy Spirit in the new believer is regeneration.  That is we have new life in Christ.  Regeneration is the spiritual rebirth which produces new life in the believer in Christ.  The word translated regeneration is palingenesia (Tit. 3:5), meaning new birth. Regeneration is used of spiritual regeneration, involving the communication of a new life in the believer by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5, 6) through the “word of truth” (Jas. 1:18) and “the washing of water with the word.” (Eph. 5:26)

Paul says, “But when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done but because of his mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”  (Tit. 3:4, 5)  In these verses Paul tells us that the work of regeneration is a work of the Spirit.  He goes on to link the work of regeneration with God’s work of justification in Christ, “Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”  (Tit. 3:7)  So the work of regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit and is firmly linked to the work of justification.

Since we have this new life in Christ, we should live up to the standards of this new life.  (Col. 3:1)  How do we do this?  In the flesh, living the new life is impossible, but only in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.  (Rom. 8:1-13)  Our reality is that we live on earth, while we are yet alive.  But our new life is in heaven with Christ (v. 3), so we should “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”  (v. 2)  Our eternal life is oriented toward heaven and so we should no longer be controlled by the flesh, but by the Holy Spirit.  Our orientation should be toward heaven, where Christ rules.  As an added motivation, we should remember, that when Christ returns, we “also will be revealed with him in glory.”  (v. 4)

While we are yet alive, we live in the world.  But in Christ we are no longer part of the world.  So we should not live as we used to live lived when we were part of this world (vv. 5, 6).  In v. 8, Paul uses the metaphor of taking off one’s old clothing, literally stripping oneself of the old rags of worldliness and sinfulness, our old sin nature.  And “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”  (v. 9)

In the church in earlier days, Christians would put on new clothes when they were baptized as a sign of the new birth.  In a similar manner, we strip off our old life and put on Christ’s new life.  We allow the Christ to be our Lord and to guide us through his Spirit in the way we should live.  The new life in Christ is only possible through the Spirit working in us day by day and moment by moment.  This new life in Christ means walking in the Spirit and allowing the Holy Spirit to remake us into the image of Christ, which is the work of sanctification.

 

 

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