The Glorious Rhythm of Sanctification

I want to bring to a close (for now anyway) our discussion on becoming like Christ.  It is the goal of this blog to focus on matters which are directly pertinent to and helpful in the pursuit of Christlikeness.  So, in essence, this is and will be an on-going discussion on this blog.   I may come at it from various angles and directions in the subsequent posts.  And even when I don’t make particular reference to “Christlikeness” and/or all its related terms, my ultimate goal is that we may all spur one another towards Christlikeness in our lives even as we wait for His return.

In the previous four posts, I have dealt with this subject from various angles and using different biblical texts.  I recommend that you take some time to review that material so that you get a better grasp of where we have been and what this post is all about.

Today, we come to Colossians 3:12-17 where the Apostle Paul, having exhorted us to “put to death what is earthly” (Colossians 3:5-11), now exhorts us to “put on” that which is heavenly.  He writes:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This is the positive aspect of pursuing Christlikeness.  The negative aspect has to do with “putting to death that which is earthly” (killing remaining sin in us).  We looked at this in my previous post.  Here, the focus is on the positive aspect of pursuing Christlikeness, namely, “putting on” that which is good.  In Romans 13:8, the Apostle Paul speaking on the same matter, urges us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  This is the glorious rhythm of sanctification.  We are commanded in the Scriptures to “put off” the old man and “put on” the new man.”  Justin Taylor, one of the bloggers on the Gospel Coalition website has a helpful blog post on this very matter which I highly recommend to you.  You can access it here.

In his sermon on 1 John 2:15, entitled, The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, Thomas Chalmers makes a very important point in this regard.  He begins his sermon with these words:

There are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human
heart its love of the world – either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the
heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not
worthy of it; or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment,
so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon not to resign an old affection, which shall have
nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one.

Then he states his purpose:

My purpose is to show, that from the constitution of our nature, the former method is
altogether incompetent and ineffectual and that the latter method will alone suffice for the
rescue and recovery of the heart from the wrong affection that domineers over it.

Being the wise and godly pastor; and being the skilled physician for the soul that he was, the Apostle Paul admonished the Colossian believers (and us through them) to pursue on the glorious virtues found in Christ if they would be like him.  He knew that it is natural for fallen man to pursue and gravitate towards the things of the world which only get us further steeped in sin.  Thus to help us counter this, he puts Christ in all His fullness and glory before us so that by gazing at Him, we may lose sight of the things of this world to our soul’s salvation and health. 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth, will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).