As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m memorizing a passage of Scripture, Colossians 3:1-17. To date, I’ve memorized the first twelve verses. Memorizing Scripture has an effect on the way you think, both in day-to-day life, and having something to draw from later in life. I find myself thinking about the verses or being reminded of the verses as I go through my day.
Also, as I work my way through each verse, memorizing the phrasing and even the placement of commas, I begin thinking about the meaning of certain words.
For instance, in verses 9-10, the apostle Paul says:
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.
One of the words that catches my attention is the word “renewed”. Once I am “in Christ”, after accepting what God has done for me through His Son, I have “taken off” the old Tim and have “put on” a new Tim, which is in the process of being renewed in knowledge. It’s almost like I’ve taken off my dirty laundry and put on clean, fresh clothes. In fact, Paul uses that exact metaphor later in verse 12.
The word “renew” shows up elsewhere in Paul’s letters. In Romans, Paul exhorts:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Again, the renewal of the mind. In Colossians, our new self is to be “renewed in knowledge”. In Romans, we are “transformed by the renewing of the mind.” But how does this renewal happen? What does God do? What part do I play? I believe that Colossians and Romans both give us the answers.
In Colossians 3:1, Paul says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ…”. In other words, “Since Christ has done this for you…”, this is how you ought to live. In Romans 12:1, Paul says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy…”. Again, what he is saying is, “Since, through Jesus, God has been so kind, gracious, and forgiving…”, this, then, is how you should live.
The first step is to realize where we would be without God. Most people never get to this point. They openly refuse His help or deny His existence. They want to run their own lives. They don’t want to appear weak, leaning on a “crutch”. But what they don’t realize is that, in the paradox of God’s wisdom, through weakness, we gain strength. Through what seemed like a dismal defeat at The Cross, came the victory over death, sin, sickness, loneliness, and so much more. It starts with an attitude of gratitude.
Secondly, after seeing how gracious and kind God is, we must trust Him and surrender our lives to Him, to be used however He sees fit. In Romans 12, Paul says, “Therefore… offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…” In Colossians, he says, “… set your hearts on things above (v.1)… set your minds on things above (v.2)… put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature (v.5)… since you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self… (vv.9,10)” It is a conscious decision. It is an act of worship, trusting that God knows how to run our lives better than we do, and surrendering our hearts and minds to Him.
Once we do, He begins to do a work anew in us. We become a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is both an instantaneous occurence and an ongoing work in progress. At our initial conversion at salvation, it is instantaneous. But as Colossians and Romans tells us, it is an ongoing, lifelong process of allowing God to have more and more of our lives. In fact, the Greek word used in both places implies that a renovation is taking place. As He fully takes over, He continually shows us where we need more of Him in our lives… where we haven’t allowed Him full access… and as we allow Him in, the renovation happens.
We allow Him access through our prayer time with Him, allowing the Holy Spirit to show us areas of our lives which need renewing. We allow Him access by reading His Word and allowing it to penetrate our hearts. As we allow Him to work, we become “renewed”. We begin to think differently. We begin to see others differently. Our hearts begin to feel the same things Jesus’ heart feels. We lose our old habits. We lose our “stinkin’ thinkin'” (as Joyce Meyer would say). As we follow Him and His lead, we are gradually transformed into the image of Christ.
As I memorize the passage in Colossians, that renewal is taking place. My laundry is being done. I’m being renovated!