Augustine, the theologian who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries, is generally regarded as the greatest of the early “church fathers.” His writings are classics. And he is often quoted.
However, Augustine, the future bishop, was not baptized until he was 32 years old. Prior to his conversion he engaged in a ten year illicit relationship. The story is told that one day following his conversion, he was approached by his former mistress. When Augustine saw her, he turned and quickly walked away.
The woman followed after him calling out, “Augustine! It’s me! It’s me!”
Quickening his pace, the new believer called back over his shoulder, “Yes, I know. But it’s no longer me.”
In one of the great chapters of the Bible, Colossians 3, we are reminded that when we become a Christian we become a different person. Warren Wiersbe was right when he wrote, “It does little good if Christians declare and defend the truth, but fail to demonstrate it in their lives.”
Consider this brief exegesis of the difference and demonstration Christ makes in our lives.
(1) We have higher aspirations.
Being raised with Christ, gives us a heavenly aim in life. A greater dream. A spiritual goal. Our quest transcends the earthly. Our sights are set beyond material success or financial gain. We see this life from a different perspective. We have a different mind set. And our affections crave more than this earth has to offer.
(2) We enjoy a new relationship.
Paul reminds us that we have died with Christ. We’ve been raised with Christ. Our lives are hidden in Christ. We live for Christ. And we will be glorified in Christ.
The apostle intimately knew about the new relationship that Christian life affords. 84 times in his epistles he speaks of being “in Christ.” If we’re not careful, we can become converted and more committed to “churchanity” instead of Christianity.
When we are “in Christ” everything is new. A new name. A new life. A new faith. A new hope. A new love. A new vision. All because of a new relationship.
(3) We put to death past passions.
The old life is dominated by unrestrained fleshly desires and carnal appetites. The new life is controlled by Christ. Paul portrays it like changing clothes. We “put off the old man” and we “put on the new man.”
Slaying the immoral sexual practices of our past lives is part of this process. But there is more. Putting off what G. Campbell Morgan called “the sins of good standing.” Greed. Anger. Critical attitudes. Lying. Coarse humor. Too often these are sins that are overlooked and tolerated among fellow Christians. But they are just as sinful as fornication and adultery.
(4) We strengthen our character.
Becoming a disciple of Christ is not a one-time event. It is a life-time process. Because we have been chosen by God, set apart from the world, and forgiven of sins, we are to clothe ourselves with the garments of divine virtue.
Paul identifies 8 beautiful graces that should adorn the Christian’s character. Tender mercies. Kindness. Humility. Meekness. Longsuffering. Forbearance. Forgiveness. And finally love.
(5) We outwardly demonstrate our inward change.
When we are spiritually changed, we will feel inner peace and will be able to express it in word and in deed.
In fact it will impact all our relationships. Beginning in the home. In the workplace. And in our interactions with non-Christians.
Take 3 minutes to read or listen to Colossians 3. Think about its message. Reflect on your life. Then seek to apply its precepts and principles.
In short, Colossians 3 reminds us, as C. S. Lewis expressed it, “Aim at heaven and you’ll get earth thrown in. Aim at earth you get neither.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman