Colossians 3:1-17

Lowered To Die To The Old Nature; Risen To Live According To The New Nature

Because of the Fall of Man; because humanity joined the rebellion of the fallen angels, human beings have been terribly damaged. Our nature is twisted. Our thinking about the most important truths is confused. Our character is bad. Our values are wrong. If we are going to be reconciled to the Creator and live forever with Him in His real and wonderful and eternal kingdom, Jews and Gentiles need a radical transformation that only Yeshua the Messiah can make possible.

Since, then, you have been raised with Messiah, set your hearts on things above, where Messiah 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 Messiah in God. When Messiah, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory!

You have been raised with Messiah. Christians and Messianic Jews have been raised. To be raised, we need to go through a lowering experience, a dying experience. After the lowering/dying experience, then we can have a rising/new-life experience. When we understand who Yeshua is, and transfer our loyalties to Him and His Father, real spiritual things happen to us. We are lowered into a kind of spiritual grave. Our old nature dies. After we are lowered and our old nature dies, God raises us from that low place and gives us a new nature.

But we don’t only rise with a new nature. We rise with Messiah. Yeshua literally died. Then He literally rose from the dead. Then He ascended to Heaven, where He is now. When we rise – by receiving a new, godly nature, we also rise by receiving the Holy Spirit – who is the Spirit of the Messiah. When we rise; when we are born again with a new and godly nature, the Spirit of Messiah lives in us in a new way, connecting us to the Messiah. We rise powerfully connected to the Risen Messiah. We rise with Messiah.

We are lowered. We go though a spiritual death experience. Our old nature dies. Therefore we are to die to the old nature which is based on self and selfish living and corrupt habits and bad attitudes. And we die to a corrupt world with its shallow values and worldly living. And, since we have risen, and have a new nature and the Holy Spirit living in us, and since we are deeply connected to Messiah, we are to live in a way that is consistent with our new nature and our connection to the Messiah.

Each one of us has a choice – whether we focus our minds, our hearts, our thoughts, our interests, our energies – on things that are consistent with our old nature or on things that are consistent with our new nature; on things that are connected to a corrupt and temporary world or on things that are consistent with the Messiah. Paul and Timothy advise you: Since you have been raised with Messiah, set your hearts on things above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Live in a way that is consistent with your rising and with your new nature and your new life.

Live in a way that is consistent with the risen and ascended Messiah and who He is and where He is at.

Where is Yeshua? In Heaven. In the place of greatest honor – at the right hand of God the Father. Where is Messiah? In a place of authority; in a place of holiness; in a place of service. From that place of holiness, honor and authority, the Son is directing His Community on Earth; directing its growth; directing it to carry on His mission and bring the Good News to a world of fallen human beings, starting with the Jewish people first.

Set your mind on things above where Messiah is. What are some of those things above? Being like Messiah. Messiah-like character. Righteousness. Holiness. Virtuous living. What else are some of those things above? Doing the things that Messiah is doing. Being a servant of God. Helping to build up Messiah’s Community. Proclaiming the Good News to everyone you can.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. What are earthly things that we should not set our minds on? Pursuing success according to what the world considers success; the pursuit of money, power, position; a life devoted to material acquisitions, fun and pleasure; seeking the praise of men.

If you are a born again believer, that is no longer you. For you died, and your life, your new life, your real life is now hidden with Messiah in God. You are connected to the Messiah, and the Messiah is connected to God the Father. That’s where the real you is right now. With Messiah. In God. Live in a way that is consistent with that reality.

And, since we are deeply, closely, intimately connected to Messiah, where He goes, we will go. When Messiah, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory!

Messiah is your life. The Son of God is the one who created you. The Son of God is the one who redeemed you. Messiah is the one who gave you a new nature that is able to live forever. Messiah is the one who gives you His eternal Spirit so that you can life forever with Him. Messiah gives you life. Messiah is the Source of your life. Doesn’t He deserve your gratitude, your service, your life?

When Messiah, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory! Messiah will appear on Earth! The Son of God will return to this planet – with great power, honor and glory. And, you will return with Him – the real you, the risen you, the glorious and eternal you! Then there will be plenty of time to enjoy wealth and power and pleasure. So, until then, can’t you put off focusing on wealth and power and pleasure? A little delayed gratification is what is being called for.

Don’t feed, nurture, encourage, strengthen, bring back to life, resurrect the corrupt desires of your old nature! Fight against them. Suppress them. Keep them in the spiritual grave where they belong. 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. Kill whatever belongs to your old, corrupt nature, especially in the area of sexuality. God created us male and female. He created us as sexual beings, but it is His will, His clear desire for human sexuality to only be expressed within the one man-one woman marriage relationship. Stay within those God-given sexual boundaries.

Put to death sexual promiscuity, including sex before marriage between a man and a woman, or sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman; unclean, impure actions and thoughts; depraved passions; lusts; unbridled passions; pornography.

Just as you must restrain your inappropriate sexual desires, you need to restrain your inappropriate material desires. The Lord has promised to provide for our needs. Do not give in to greed. Limit your desires for more and more material things. Learn how to be content with what you have, not discontent with what you don’t have. Giving into greed – whether it’s greed for unauthorized sexual activity or greed for more material things, is a kind of idolatry. It places something else before God in our love and devotion.

And, a life characterized by sexual immorality and greed offend the holy God and won’t be tolerated. Because of these, Paul and Timothy warn us, the wrath of God is coming. And, you don’t want to experience the anger of the Creator that will be unleashed on sinful humanity – so don’t live that way! Don’t give into greed. Don’t give into sexual immorality.

And there is more. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other … The old nature is alienated from God and from other human beings. It is selfish and self-centered. It is easily angered. Therefore anger, rage, malice, hatred, ill-will toward others come naturally and easily to us. The old nature is impure and doesn’t know the truth and isn’t committed to the truth. Therefore hurting others with our words, lying, slandering and using abusive and filthy language, come naturally and easily to us.

All forms of sexual immorality and greed; anger, hatred and rage; lying and slandering need to be eliminated. God doesn’t want us to act that way, speak that way, treat others that way. It’s inconsistent with our new nature, with our new self, with the new us and our new relationship with God.

Previously, Paul and Timothy used the analogy of dying and rising to help us understand the death of our old nature and the birth of our new nature. Now, they use another analogy – taking off and putting on clothes. … 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. Imagine a really cheap pair of pants and shirt, or a cheap dress, made of cheap material, and not well made. Imagine using them day after day, rarely cleaning them, until they are old, worn out, dirty, full of holes and no longer useful. That’s the old nature. Now imagine a brand new, beautiful, expensive, well-made dress or men’s suit made from the finest materials. That’s the new nature. Who wouldn’t want to take off the old, worn out filthy rags and put on a beautiful, well-made, clean, new outfit? Who wouldn’t want to remove a lifestyle consistent with the corrupt old nature and put on a lifestyle based on the new, godly nature?

We are to eliminate corrupt practices and values of our old, ruined nature and live in a way that is consistent with our new, godly nature, which is in the process of becoming more and more like God. No more dirty, sinful thoughts and words and actions. Only clean, godly thoughts and words and practices that spring from a new nature and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and a new relationship to Messiah.

This recreation of human nature is for everyone. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free. There are no second class citizens when it comes to being restored to the image of God.

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Messiah is all, and is in all. The goal of this renewal is the same for everyone – to be like Messiah. The One who makes this renewal possible for all – is Messiah. The Messiah is living in us all, transforming all of us into His image, no matter our race or economic situation or level of culture.

This transformation is not based on rules and regulations; this renewal is not based on holidays; this reestablishment of the image of God in ruined human beings is not a result of Torah-observance. No, this is a Messiah-centered, Messiah-empowered way of spiritual transformation – a way that really works, a way that really pleases God.

So, since the old nature is dead, and instead of living according to the old nature, characterized by sexuality immorality, greed, anger, hatred, lies, slander and filthy language; and since we have a new nature; and since the Spirit of the Messiah is living in us and empowering us; and since the Messiah is transforming each one of us; and since each one of us is chosen by a loving and gracious God, and set apart by a loving and gracious God to fulfill wonderful purposes, and loved by a loving and gracious God, we are to relate to all of God’s people, no matter their race, culture or economic status, in a new and godly way. 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 one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Messiah rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

Clothe yourselves (same analogy of putting on a beautiful, well-made, clean new outfit) with compassion. In other words, be compassionate. Try to understand others’ problems and do something to alleviate those problems.

Be kind, concerned for others, not uncaring.

Be gentle, not harsh.

Be humble, not arrogant, not self-centered. Look out for others’ good, not just your own. Don’t insist on always being in first place. Be happy when others succeed.

Be patient, not impatient, angry, short-tempered.

Be forgiving. If you have a grievance against someone – and you will have a grievance against someone, forgive him. And, someone in Messiah’s Community will say or do something that will hurt you. Forgive him as the Lord forgave you – graciously, quickly, abundantly, completely, repeatedly.

Be loving. Care for others in Messiah’s Community. Do what is best for them. Help meet their needs. Help them achieve their potential. Love makes all of these virtues work. Love brings unity to all of God’s people.

Be at peace – within yourself and with others in Messiah’s Community. Messiah is the Prince of Peace. Messiah is at peace. Messiah knows no lack of peace. Messiah enjoys shalom shalom – perfect peace. As you get close to the Prince of Peace and stay close to the Prince of Peace, His peace will flow into you. You will enjoy peace, even in the midst of trials, and that peace will flow out of you and bring peace to your relationships with the other members of Messiah’s Community. And God wants every member of the Body of Messiah to be at peace and for the whole Community to be at peace – not fighting, unified, working together in harmony.

And be thankful. Our old nature was not inclined to be thankful – to people, or to God. But thankfulness is consistent with our new nature, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and our new relationship to God. We need to be aware of the importance of expressing gratitude – to human beings, and especially to the Three-In God, who, so graciously has done, is doing and will do so much for us.

As those made in the very image of God; and when that image was marred by the Fall, redeemed from the satanic slave-market of sin and death; and as the beloved sons and daughters of God, honorable and eternal – we have a much better understanding of how much we have to be thankful for. So, look for opportunities to express appreciation, gratitude and thanks – for little things and for big things, to people, and especially to God.

And, keep your mind focused on the Messiah. That will help you stay close to Messiah and be empowered and able to live according to the new nature. How? Let the message of Messiah dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. The word about Messiah, the message about Messiah is to live within us richly – not sparingly, not scantily. That means we are to be focusing our minds on Yeshua, so that He is constantly in our thoughts.

Since Messiah is the focus of the Word of God, the message about the Messiah will live in us in a rich way by reading the Word of God, studying the Word of God, applying the Word of God to each situation we face, teaching others the Word of God – with the focus of the reading, the studying, the teaching, the applying, being the Messiah Himself. And we sing Bible-based, Holy-Spirit inspired songs that focus on the Messiah. And if we are in danger of straying from Messiah, we correct each other and warn each other. And, the result of focusing our minds on the Messiah will be a successful, God-honoring life and gratitude to God.

It’s not just our religious life, that is to Messiah-centered. It’s everything we do, everything we say. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Our daily life, our work life, our moment by moment activities and talk, is to be characterized by Messiah. Everything we do, everything we say, should be consistent with Yeshua – something He would do, something He would say, something He would approve of. If He wouldn’t do it, we shouldn’t do it. If He wouldn’t say it, we shouldn’t say it. If He wouldn’t approve of it, we shouldn’t do it. So, not just on Shabbat, but the entire week, before you act, before you speak, you need to ask yourself: Is this something Yeshua would do or say? What Would Yeshua Do in this situation?

This is the way to live. This is the way to please God. This is the way of holy living. This is the way to have a successful life. Not the ABCs of religion based on rules and regulations, rituals, holidays and various deprivations or other focuses.

Doing everything in a way that is consistent with Yeshua has another benefit. It keeps our relationship with God the Father in good working order, and facilitates giving thanks to God the Father – which is so appropriate for the creature to be doing on a regular basis.

May God so work in us, that each one of us is living this way. Amen? Amen!