New Nature Relationships

Looking Good

My youngest son likes to look good. He likes to wear stylish clothes and for everything to match. He’s also been known to make and wear his own jewelry. My oldest, like his dad, keeps his clothing choices very basic with jeans and a t-shirt being his favorite ensemble. My oldest would never say he’s wearing an “outfit,” while my youngest frequently refers to his clothing that way.

While our physical clothing differs greatly from person to person and reflects the unique aspects of an individual’s personality, every Christian is called to put on the same “outfit,” if you will, based on the new life Christ won for them. In fact, this clothing Paul talks about has tremendous impact on the quality of our relationships.

new life 3Impact of New Life on Relationships

Paul begins Colossians 3 by telling those who have new life in Christ, which he detailed in previous chapters of the book, to focus on the “realities of Heaven.” He follows this exhortation with instructions for cultivating relationships. The rest of the chapter, as well much of the next one, details what we are to take off and what we are to put on as we clothe ourselves in our new lives, and those activities center around getting rid of selfish desires and adding in ones that cultivate Godly relationships.

While Paul provides a list of specific old nature habits (Colossians 3:5-9), the main point involves getting rid of a focus on self. Since the old self died when we gained new life in Christ, the old habits need to go as well. Sure, you could check to see if your personal habits are in the examples Paul gives, but the point really involves getting rid of selfishness and focusing on the habits of our new natures.

While the habits of our old nature produce only evil and decay, the habits of the new nature renew daily as we focus on Christ and not on a set of rules or requirements (Colossians 3:10-4:1). The focus of our new natures is to be on others and on building relationships. This does not mean forgetting yourself completely; after all, Jesus said to love others AS yourself, not INSTEAD of yourself, a point focused on in a future post.

Free to Be New

But sometimes, often actually, old habits just seem too hard, even impossible, to overcome let alone eradicate altogether. And on our own, shedding them truly is impossible. But under the new nature, we are not bound by the flesh and its desires because we are led by the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:9-12). This is why Tongue Taming is possible, and this is why cultivating Godly relationships is also possible.

Plus, if we focus on what we are to put on in our new natures, the old habits won’t have room to even exist let alone operate within us. As we focus on clothing our new natures, we’ll find that we don’t even want that old stuff anymore. Just look at the new nature clothing:

new life 1

Then there’s the activity of the new nature to add on, sort of the outerwear on top of the main outfit.

new life 2

Personally, I could stop here. I could just focus on what we’ve discussed so far and no other part of Scripture and have plenty to develop the rest of my life. So even though Paul continues through the rest of Colossians with more instruction on building and cultivating Godly relationships, we’ll focus on the specifics of Paul’s advice that we’ve listed here as we go into even further into the details of relationships.

DISCUSSION: What stands out the most to you in Colossians 3 regarding the cultivating of Godly relationships?

17 thoughts on “New Nature Relationships

  1. What stands out the most? How stinkin' hard it is! Like growing a garden or plants, it takes work. I know God does His work in us, but we can't just sit back and hope things change or hope we grow. He does expect us to do some feeding and cultivating.

  2. I had a Sunday School teacher when I was in sixth grade talk about , "Put on, put off."

    She listed the things we should take off, and the things we should put . Just like clothing, these are choices.

    Great dissection of this passage!

  3. I think it special that we as Christians have the same outfit but we all can wear it differently. That even in the sameness each person can manifest those traits we put on uniquely.

    At times we have to intentionally put on something to see how we might go about wearing it or using it. Clothes become more comfortable the more we wear them or the more we wear them out. Oh that we all would wear out some of these traits.

    • Me too, Mark. Actually, we're going to get more into the clothing idea that you describe here. I like your point about clothing becoming more comfortable the more we wear them. Also, the idea of wearing them out is intriguing too. It's not possible, since our new natures are renewed regularly, but wouldn't it be great if we needed them renewed more because we wore them so much?! Great points!

  4. Kari, My Women's Bible Study Group started Kyle Idleman's Gods at War this morning. We had a great discussion about habits, idols, and freedom in Christ. One verse we're holding onto this week as week do some soul searching is, "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4

    He is the One who gives us courage to put on new clothes. Thanks for this great reminder.

  5. Pingback: Making Allowances |

  6. First off, I really like your new design! The "clothe yourself with…." really get's me each time. I think about putting the characteristics listed on like clothes. It allows us to grow and maintain the relationships we have. Great post!

    • Thanks, Dan. My oldest son has been helping me a lot, and it's really turning out to be a great partnership. The visual of clothing yourself really is so very helpful. It tells us that it matters how we appear to others with regard to love, and that makes all the difference in our relationships.

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