It’s not about the lists

Put to death what is earthly in you …* because of this focus the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disbelief. In them you once walked, when you were living among them, but now you put away all those things…* for life in Christ and put on a new man who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. Col. 3:5-11

This passage contains two lists of “sins.” There is a tendency to focus on these lists rather than the points being made. The lists are parenthetical to the passage. Forget them. God has. Throughout the New Testament and certainly in Colossians, it’s repeated over and over again that obedience to rules is not what Christ is about. This passage needs to be taken in that context. The point is belief, not law. Belief empowers us to put away what Christ has already put away, to let die in us what died with Christ, and to discover our lives in Him. Christ has definitively impressed His image on us and whatever horrible image we had of ourselves, and the acting out that results from believing that about ourselves, is over and dead. Thinking and choosing from this belief comes from a quite different perspective than the try-hard, white-knuckling, guilt-ridden experience of going through the lists and feeling like a complete failure doomed to a lifetime of God’s anger and rejection. God sent Jesus to dispense with that kind of grovelling so we can actually experience Him in the true love, peace, joy, and grace that is His nature and that He has made our nature as well.

Lord, renew my knowledge after Your image.