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Understanding the ritual of changing garments

Columbia Biblical Studies: Wednesday, July 9
Columbia Biblical Studies: Wednesday, July 9
Peter Griffin

Today’s bible study is Colossians 3:9-10: 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.

This passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians speaks of the old life and the new. This unit urges the believers to live out their faith in specific conduct and relationships. Since you have died with Christ and have been raised with him, then to certain behavior from your past you are to be dead; to behavior that befits Christ you are to be alive.

Essentially, this is telling us to leave patterns of behavior that are contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ behind, to let them die. Now we are called to a higher station, that of followers of Christ. As he taught his disciples, he also teaches us to live with new patterns of love, mercy, forgiveness and belief.

The language of dying and rising fits the occasion of baptism as the setting for such exhortations. This possibility is further supported by the expression ‘stripped of’ and ‘clothed yourselves with,’ perhaps a reference to the ritual of changing garments as a symbol of one’s change of conduct and status before God. One does not put off the body, as would be the view of anti-worldly spiritual groups (perhaps the Colossians false teachers?), but one puts off, one dies to, behavior centered on the created rather than on the Creator.

Foremost among the evils to be discarded are sexual sins and covetousness. Covetousness, setting the heart on material wealth, is idolatry because it is to have a god other than the one true God. And, we all know, that the first commandment of God is to have no other gods before Him.

Help us to cast away the sinful ways of the past and let them die as we enter new life in the kingdom of God, our almighty father in heaven. Through Jesus Christ, we are cleansed of sin and forgiven. Open our hearts and our minds to this new life and help us to live it to the glory of our one God, our Creator.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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