What does the text mean?
Colossians 3:5-6 makes clear that the wrath of God is coming as a result of those things that belong to the earthly nature as these include sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed (this is idolatry). A point that could be made is that Colossians 3:5-6 makes clear that God imposes his wrath against others as a result of the nature that they live in. Although some might argue or believe that God’s wrath is held against the damned at birth and progresses in intensity until God no longer holds back his wrath and thus chooses a time to exercise his wrath against the damned, Colossians 3:5-6 in contrast shows that God is specifically enraged as a result of people living in the earthly nature.
Colossians 3:7-8 reminds listeners that they previously had lived in an earthly nature, but now that they have heard the message they must get rid of the anger, malice, rage, slander, and filthy language that is harbored by believers. The point being made is that believers are not to continue in their old ways, but instead they must change in accordance with the new nature. What is assumed is that all believers had previously walked in the old nature, but now believers must walk in the new nature.
Colossians 3:9-10 condemns lying to one another, and it promotes the new nature as informed by the knowledge of the image of God having been put on and the old nature having been taken off. The contrast that is drawn between the new nature that is informed by the image of God and the old nature that is informed by the worship of false gods cannot be overlooked. As one can conclude, believers are to transform themselves according to the image of God, but they must not seek after created things in order to fulfill the need for modeling one’s self.
Colossians 3:11-12 makes clear that no distinction of class or privilege exists in the body of Christ, but instead, “Christ is all, and is in all.” The passage is quick to reference God’s election after having made no distinction between class or privilege, and it also instructs believers to obtain godly qualities such as gentleness, patience, kindness, humility, and compassion. Overall, Colossians 3:11-12 shows that despite the differences that would otherwise separate people every believer is chosen by God and is loved by God.
Colossians 3:13-14 gives specific instruction regarding how to keep the church together in unity. The passage instructs believers to forgive just as the Lord forgave and to put on love with a special emphasis on binding everyone together in a perfect unity. The scripture points to love as being the pinnacle for Christian unity of the congregation. Overall, one could even conclude that forgiving grievances is actually the product of having loved.
Colossians 3:15-16 is very clear that the peace of Christ should be the ruling force over all of the church. The passage also points to admonishing one another in peace as well as dwelling upon what Christ has said. Overall, the best point to make regarding the passage is that spiritual songs, hymns, and psalms of praise could be argued to flow from the meditation upon what Christ has said as well as the active work in doing what Christ has promoted as principles to be done.
What is Paul instructing believers to do
Colossians 3:5 shows that Paul instructs believers to put an end to the earthly nature, and along with that Colossians 3:8 instructs members to stop doing evil (See also Colossians 3:9 instructing against believers not to lie). The instruction of Colossians 3:10 greatly summarize the instructions of Colossians 3:5-9 by instructing believers to put on the new self. Colossians 3:11-12 makes the point even clearer by instructing believers to treat each other as they themselves would want to be treated.
Colossians 3:13 instructs believers to forgive, and in the same tone Colossians 3:14 instructs believers to love. Even more to the point is that Colossians 3:15-16 promotes worship out of love, and in this regard believers are instructed to be united in love. The overall instruction that is given by Colossians 3:5-16 is for believers to act much differently than they acted in the past, and in this regard believers are to accomplish all the instruction of holy living as these are things that need to be done by putting on the new nature and putting off the old nature.
How can a person take off the old nature and put on the new nature?
The only way to truly take off the old nature and put on the new nature is to be a new creation, and this can only be done by believing in Jesus Christ. Jesus indeed washed the feet of the disciples before he was crucified (See John 13:1-5), and the message in this is that we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices and be crucified with Christ in order that we may worship God by serving our fellow brothers just as Christ has done. The fact of the matter is that Christ was God in the flesh, but yet he say the washing of the disciples feet as so critical to his ministry that he got down on his hands and knees as though he was a salve in order to wash the feet of the disciples before he would be crucified for them and the sins of the world. Overall, if Christ who had created all of heaven and earth could do such an awesome act of self sacrifice, then why would people that are made in the image and likeness of God not attempt to do the same things that Jesus did?
Although God makes the nature of everything the way that it is, the fact of the matter is that the new nature comes from God and is from the partaking of the divine nature (See 2 Peter 1:4). For example, “Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’” – John 6:53 (NIV) The fact of the matter is that once the Word of God as the seed of God is implanted into the elect, then it may produce fruit in accordance with God’s will. According to 2 Peter 1:4-6 the dine nature is participated in through promises by God, and in this regard putting on the new nature and taking off the old nature involves a person being instructed to add godly qualities to what they have otherwise gained from God through election.
How do I do it?
The believer gains a deposit of wealth from God through the laying on of hands known of as a talent. The believer thus is a slave of his master that must invest his talent or talents wisely in order to flourish the development of the kingdom. The new nature comes from the seed of the word of God developing in the believer, and brings forth the fruit of the gospel as this is the ministry of the person of Christ Jesus. What however can also be said is that the new nature also comes from the anointing of the Holy Ghost that acts as the deposit of talents that can be invested into the world in order that God’s love may be realized more fully as the kingdom of God develops and advances. Having the new nature thus takes the form of self sacrifice, the Word of God working until maturity in the life of the believer, and the imputation and use of the talents in investment. Most important is that putting on the new nature is about making full use of the righteousness of Christ that is inserted into the believer.