The goal of the Christian life is to become what we already are. What do I mean? Repeatedly in the New Testament believers are referred to as those who are “in Christ.” Since believers have died to sin and have been raised to new life in Christ we must put off the old man as we put on the new. We must make every effort to put to death those sinful thoughts and attitudes which hinder our growth in Christ. We must put on the new man. And a massive part of this involves our thinking patterns, as mentioned yesterday.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:2-3). The clearly stated reason to change our thinking patterns is our new position. We have already died and been raised to new life. We have no life—except the life that is now ours in Christ. Everything we are is connected to Christ. What a glorious truth!
As we obey this call to “set the mind” on the things of God the more we become in our experience what we already are in our position. The more we take positive action to “think on these things” (Phil 4:8), the more the Holy Spirit [super]naturally confronts the negative thought patterns that hinder Godward faith. Therefore, thinking on the things of the Lord requires its companion discipline of not thinking on the things of the world.
This change of thinking fuels change in our behavior/living. Paul illustrates this as the changing one’s clothes (Col 3:12-14). We must put off the old self (everything we inherited from Adam) and put on the new man (all that we are in Christ). In Christ, God has given us new clothing to wear. What does this new clothing look like? Since we are chosen in Christ, holy (set apart to God from the world), and beloved by God, we must put on the following 8 virtues daily.
- Compassion = (KJV: “bowels of mercy”; refers to the internal organs) = deep feelings of concern for the needs of others, especially sensitivity to those who are suffering (see Luke 10:25-37 for an illustration).
- Kindness = a sweetness of disposition expressed in kind acts and deeds toward others (Rom 2:4; Gal 5:22).
- Humility = an accurate estimate of oneself (Phil 2:3; 1 Pet 5:5; Rom 12:3).
- Meekness = gentleness, submission, the opposite of insubordination (Matt 5:5).
- Patience = the ability to bear up under difficult circumstances and unjust suffering with joy and without revenge or retaliation (1 Pet 2:21-23; Rom 12:19).
- Forbearance = the manner of putting up with people who irritate you, to hold oneself up under the burdens placed upon him by others (Cf. Rom 15:1; Eph 4:2).
- Forgiveness = based on karis, meaning “grace,” it is the gracious removal of a debt according to God’s standard (“just as the Lord forgave you,” Eph 4:31-32).
- Love = the belt of others-esteem, which that holds all the previously mentioned virtues in place, love is “the perfect bond of unity,” the most effective antidote against discord and disunity in the body. Love is the most important moral “apparel” in a believer’s life (Rom 13:10; 1 Cor 13:1-7).