Text: Colossians 3:1-17 | Listen to Message
If you ever feel like we overcomplicate the Christian life, you’re not alone.
There are hundreds of “rules” in the Bible – both “dos and don’ts.” So how can we possibly keep them all straight and apply them correctly to every situation? How can we remember all the things God says about our identity in Christ and walk in light of these truths 100% of the time? We can’t. Maybe this is why even Scripture itself provides summary statements of the Christian life, like, “Love God with all your heart . . . and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Colossians 3 feels like one of those summaries to me. Want a synopsis of the Christian life? Here’s one version: pursue, put off, and put on. To be more specific . . .
Pursue Christ and seek your identity in him.
Put off everything that contradicts your identity in Christ.
Put on everything that reflects your identity in Christ.
It’s that simple. It really is.
Our identities are formed by what we give our attention and imagination to. Perhaps this is why Paul says, “Seek . . . set your minds on . . . things that are above, not on earthly things.”
If someone else were to observe your life, what would they think you’re seeking after? What are you expending effort looking for? What do your thoughts go back to over and over again? When you daydream, where does your mind go?
The invitation here is something like this: Stop defaulting to giving your time and attention to . . . whatever. Be intentional about seeking the validation of God. Continually direct your thoughts to what he says is true about you. Don’t be controlled by earth-bound, short-term, low-yield thoughts. Chase after God!
While pursuing Christ and seeking your identity in him, there are certain things that are going to intrude upon that real you. Put them to death. There are other things that will reflect who Christ is and who Christ says you are. Put them on. Keep doing those things that flow out of his description of the real you. Think of it like this:
If I am a Christian, I am who I am before God. Those things God affirms are the true me; those things he prohibits are the intrusions of the foreign matter of sin and not part of the person I was made to be and the Spirit is bringing about. (Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 141)
It’s probably more complicated than that. Feel free to move on to the more complex stuff when you’ve mastered believing and practicing this simple pursuit of your identity in Christ.