In Paul’s letter to Christians in the city of Colossae, he further addressed what it means to be alive in Christ. This time, Paul’s approach to this subject was practical. He wrote of what constitutes being alive in Christ day in and day out. There was a negative and a positive to this practical approach.
On the negative side, rather than saying we should avoid certain worldly actions, he said something in a more cogent way. He wrote that we should “put to death” whatever belongs to our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lies. (Colossians 3:5,8-9, NIV)
On the positive side, he wrote that we should “clothe ourselves” with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, peace, thankfulness, and above all else, love. (3:12-15) The use of “clothe ourselves” is just as compelling as “put to death.”
What else is there to being alive in Christ? Setting our minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3:2) That is, the way we think impacts what we actually do. Teaching and admonishing each other “with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (3:16) Being alive in Christ is having a spirit full of singing and joy.
Being alive in Christ shows to others the somewhat simple, but powerful, acts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, peace, thankfulness, and love. If we are unable to put to death our earthly nature, then these simple acts of goodness towards others will be impossible, because we are not alive in Christ.
Being alive in Christ means that we are dead in the world. As Paul said in Colossians 3:3: “[Y]our life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”