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.
Christianity is not a life change. It is a resurrection. The Bible teaches that all humans are dead in their sins. Those who respond to Christ's death and resurrection in faith are made alive through that faith to live for God. Since believers were dead and have now been made alive, it is fitting for us to set out minds on things above (where Christ is and where we are going) as opposed to setting our minds on earthly things.
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 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, 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 Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
When the Holy Spirit first breathes life into the Christian's soul and calls him to salvation, that new believer's mind is dead set on the things of this world and his heart is black with love for sin. As he responds in faith, the Christian gets his first taste of the amazing goodness of God. Having tasted God's goodness, he rightly desires more of it, but the old inclinations toward the earthly remain. The believer must actively choose to put off this old mindset and this old way of living life.
Notice how much of this old life has to do with relationships. This is why it can be hard for new believers to continue all of their old friendships. If these relationships drag the believer back into lust, lying, anger, sexual immorality, evil desires, slander, and filthy language then he must choose between living a resurrected life and his friends. He will do well to recall what Jesus had to say about the man who puts his hand to the plow and turns back (Luke 9:61-62). Of course becoming a Christian does not mean you have to leave your lost friends (Mark 2:13-17 & Luke 15), but it does mean a commitment to cutting these old behaviors out of your life, putting off the old self and some friendships simply will not survive that level of life change.
But the Christian life is not only about putting off the old self, it is also a concerted effort to set your mind on the things above. We are not merely called to put off worldly behavior but to put on Christian behavior. Christianity isn't something that happens on the periphery of your life. It affects everything! It changes your identity, your behavior, and your hope. Today I challenge you to put on the new self by living out Colossians 3:12-17 below.
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 Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ 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. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.With the help of the Spirit, seek out and put to death sin in your life, and continually seek to add more of the virtues of heaven to your manner of living.
For further reading...
- Mark 2:13-17 & Luke 15- There is little doubt that Christians must cut sin out of their lives. Sometimes avoiding temptation and sin comes at the cost of losing relationships. Yet, the Bible has a lot to say about Jesus' relationships with sinners. How do these passages balance out the idea that the Christian must cut sin out of her life, but need not necessarily cut sinners out as well? (Any right understanding of this issue must admit a new believer relates to her lost friends differently after her conversion than she did before.)
- Luke 9:61-62- What does this passage have to teach those of us who accept Jesus and then turn back to our life sin and live an essentially unresurrected life?