Colossians 3:12a

The Garments of a New Man



1. Our position in Christ (vs. 11)

a. We died with Christ to the world (2:20; 3:3)

b. We have put off the old man at the moment of saving faith (3:9)

c. We rose with Christ to new life (3:1, 4)

d. We have put on the new man (3:10)

e. This new man is completely new, yet is in a process of constant renewal… spiritual growth and progress (3:10)

f. This new man is IN Christ (in the Body) where worldly, earthly distinctions are meaningless. (3:11)

2. Paul has finished the section on positional truth, and begins to make exhortations BASED upon that glorious position.

a. After teaching the Colossians of their position in Christ, he begins to exhort them to behavior that is BEFITTING such a high calling!

b. We saw a few weeks ago that SINCE the old man is dead, it is only fitting that the dirty garments of that old man be PUT OFF (3:8-9).

c. Paul informed them that the new man has been PUT ON at the moment of saving faith (3:10). They ARE a new creature in Christ… a new man.

d. This morning we want to look at the exhortation Paul makes IN LIGHT OF that fact.

e. SINCE you are a new man, PUT ON garments (outward behavior) that is befitting such a position!


A. The Elect of God

1. Elect Defined:  ἐκλεκτός – picked out; chosen;

a. It is a noun in the nominative case – indicating the PERSONS being addressed (elect ones; chosen ones)

b. From  ἐκλέγω – (ek = out of) – To choose out, select out, choose out for oneself,
• This term does not necessarily imply the rejection of what is not chosen, but speaks of displaying favor to the thing chosen.
• It involves preference and selection from among many choices.

c. The verb in Col.3:12 is used in Eph. 1:4 – chosen before the foundation of the earth.
• Therefore, it could not be based on merit.
» We had not yet been born. We had not yet DONE anything.
» It was based purely on God’s goodness and grace
• Deut. 7:7-8 – God CHOSE to place His love on Israel. That’s why they were the elect of God.
» God delighted in choosing Israel, not because of any seen or foreseen merit in the nation, but because it PLEASED the Lord to do so.
» That is exactly why WE too are the elect of God.
• Rom. 9:22 – the two unborn sons of Isaac and Rebecca (Jacob and Esau) illustrate this truth.
» One was chosen, one was not.
» The choice was made BEFORE they were born.
» The purpose of the choice was to make it crystal clear that the choice was NOT made on the basis of works.
» The choice was made according to God – “Him that calleth… that chooseth.” It was His choice, His will… because it pleased Him.
» Election makes it clear that GOD is the One who does the choosing… not the one chosen.
• Eph. 1:5, 9, 11 – God predestinated us, according to His own good pleasure… according to His own good purpose and His own will.
» We all have many questions about God’s sovereign choices… there is much we are not told.
» But one thing we DO know: He chose us because He WANTED to… it pleased Him…
» That’s about the most definitive answer one will find in the pages of the Holy Scripture.
» The gospels contain a similar expression several times: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
» God does that which seems good in His sight.
» We ought to be able to leave it at that and trust Him.
» His choices are based on what HE deems best… One who is omniscient and infinitely good has made the choice. We don’t need to know all the details. Trust Him.
» II Tim. 1:9 – “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
• In fact, this thought brings great comfort. God chose me—not because there was anything good in me, but because He wanted to.
• God chose to place His special care upon us for reasons He is not pleased to reveal… reasons known only to Himself.

2. Rather than wander out of the context of Paul’s argument in Colossians 3, it would be best to consider election here as follows:

a. Paul is highlighting to the Colossian believers that they were hand picked by God!

b. They are in a unique and glorious position… as the elect of God.

c. They didn’t need to understand all the ramifications of election (we’re still just skimming the surface of that subject today!)… but they DID need to BELIEVE it.

d. God chose them… and if saved, God chose us!

e. It is designed to evoke from the readers a sense of gratitude and appreciation for God’s marvelous grace.

f. They didn’t DESERVE to be the elect of God, but God chose them anyway! (us too!)

g. They DESERVED to be rejected by God for their sin and rebellion like the rest of the masses of humanity… but God chose them anyway!

h. The very concept of being “chosen out of” the masses ought to humble us… and cause us to stand in awe of God’s amazing grace…

i. We will be learning about God’s elective decrees throughout eternity. We don’t need to know them all right now. But for now, we do well to shout out THANK YOU Lord and sing a chorus or two Amazing grace!

B. Holy

1. Again, this speaks of the POSITION of the Colossian believers.

a. He is not saying, “Be ye holy” or to “Put on holiness.”

b. Rather, he is stating a fact. They ARE holy ones… saints.

2. Holy = separated unto God.

a. That which is set apart for sacred use…

b. This very same term is often translated “saints” (holy ones; those set apart for God).

c. It is similar in concept to a marriage, where the bride has been set apart to their husband.

d. It is used of the temple, of a mountain.

e. Matt.2 3:16-17 – the gold in the Temple was set apart unto God’s service—sanctified—consecrated to God.
• When that gold was “elected” or “selected,” it was then placed in the Temple as a spoon, or vessel, or part of the gold furniture.
• Once that gold was set apart unto God, it was considered “holy” or “sanctified” – set apart for His use.
• Being in the Temple did not change the condition of the gold. It looked the same as ever. It still had the same chemical make up.
• But it was DIFFERENT because it was set apart—in a new position—it was in God’s Temple for God’s use.
• It was no longer ordinary, common gold, but special gold—consecrated unto God.
• Believers have also been set apart from the world UNTO God and for His service.
• In that sense, we are positionally HOLY. At the moment of saving faith, God SEPARATES us from the world and separates UNTO Himself.

f. The priesthood in the Old Testament was consecrated to God too. It was called a “holy priesthood” because those men were in a unique position in Israel as priests.
• Priests were set apart for God’s service. It was a privileged position… a special calling.
• Not all the priests in Israel were holy in practice! (Consider Eli’s sons!)
• I Peter 2:5 – In the New Testament, EVERY believer in Christ is a priest! And we too are called a “holy priesthood.”
• I Peter 2:9 – We are also a holy nation… set apart FROM the world and set apart UNTO God.
• The privileged position brought with it certain responsibilities too!
• . It is the same word as is often translated “sanctified”. (Heb. 10:10 – sanctified once and for all by the blood of Christ)

g. Every true believer in this age is HOLY positionally.
• Hence, Paul addresses the Colossians as “holy ones.”
• The fact that they were IN CHRIST tells us that they were holy – set apart from the world.
• God sees us as HOLY ONES because He sees us in His Son!
• God placed us in His Son and in doing so, set us apart from the world to Himself.
• We are thus eternally set apart unto God.
• This too was part of the Colossians’ glorious position… and ours too!

h. So Paul addresses the Colossian as “holy ones.”
• It is exactly the same Greek word as is translated saints in Col. 1:2, 4.
• A saint is one set apart unto God.
• What a privileged position!

C. Beloved

1. This is the third of three nominatives used to describe the Colossian believers.

a. The Colossians were chosen ones, holy ones, and now beloved ones!

b. ἠγαπημένοι – perfect passive participle – from agape
• Means: love; God’s love.
• Perfect – God placed His love upon these folks in the past and His love remains upon them. They STAND as loved ones of God.
• Passive – it was GOD who performed the action of loving here. He first loved us!

c. Like the other descriptions of the believers, this too speaks of their POSITION. They stand as the beloved of the Father!

d. Of all the people in the world, God chose to pour out His eternal love on the believers in Colossae… and on the believers in Salem Bible Church! That means YOU if you are born again!

2. Divine love is bestowed in grace… not to the deserving, but to the undeserving!

a. We love Him because He first loved us!

b. When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!

c. There was nothing lovely in us that merited His love.

d. He chose to bestow His everlasting love upon us NOT because we were worthy, but because it was His good pleasure to do so. He WANTED to.

e. He chose to save us and to set us apart from the world and to place us IN His Son… in the Body of Christ.

f. He sees us IN His Son… of whom the Father said, “This is my BELOVED Son… in whom I am well pleased.” (same word)

g. God sees us in His BELOVED Son and refers to us as BELOVED ones!

h. Be grateful. Praise Him for it. Thank Him every day.

D. Summary

1. Paul addressed the Colossians by reminding them once again, in a new and fresh way, of their glorious position in Christ.

a. They were elect – chosen—hand picked by God—not because of any merit God saw in them, but simply because it pleased God to make them the recipients of His amazing grace!

b. They were holy—saints—set apart by God to Himself—once and for all by the blood of Christ. They were placed by God in the unique position as a holy nation… a holy priesthood consecrated to Him… saints! And all of this too was God’s gift to undeserving sinners. God took a sinner and made him a holy one… a saint!

c. They were beloved ones of God—God bestowed His everlasting love upon those who deserved His wrath.

2. Their position: elect ones, holy ones, beloved of the Father.

a. This position was God’s doing and it is forever.

b. Eph. 2:4 – recipients of God’s love and mercy

c. Eph. 2:7 – recipients of God’s kindness and grace.

d. These folks were the recipients of everlasting love, Divine mercies and had experienced the kindness of God through salvation in Christ.

e. Eph. 2:8-9 – every aspect of their salvation was by grace… and they had NO reason whatsoever to boast. No flesh should glory in His presence!

f. We were ALL dead in sins (Eph. 2:1).This is true whether you were saved in the kindergarten or were saved after ending up on Skid Row.

g. There is no difference in sinners from God’s perspective. For ALL have sinned and come short of God’s glory!
• It requires INFINITE grace to save ANY sinner!
• And each one saved is saved the same way: by grace!
• In Adam, all are in the same boat… undeserving sinners…
• In Christ, all are in the same boat… undeserving sinners… but saved by grace! For there is no difference!
• Each one in Christ was chosen, sanctified, and was showed in God’s love—for one reason: GRACE!
• Whether Jew or Greek, circumcision or uncircumcision, Barbarian or Scythian, bond or free… there is no difference in Christ.
• The foot of the cross is ground level.

h. Before this series of exhortations, Paul lets the believers know where they stand in Christ.

i. Regardless of earthly distinctions, in Christ—each one is but a sinner saved by grace… no special status in the Body of Christ…


A. The Basis of the Exhortations

1. Paul uses two terms (therefore and as) to tie the following exhortations into the context.


a. You are in Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian or Scythian, etc. THEREFORE, put on kindness to those in the Body who may be quite different from you!

b. Rest assured that the Jews and Greeks differed on LOTS of issues in life! Different customs, practices, etc.

c. The slave owner and the slave would certain look at earthly things differently… especially the economy!

d. But the Bible is not a book on social engineering or political science. It is a spiritual book, and hence tells ALL of the various groups in the Body to be KIND!

e. BECAUSE there is no difference spiritually… from heaven’s vantage point… be KIND to one another on earth… and display a HEAVENLY attitude!

f. Their heavenly position should affect their earthly condition and behavior!

g. Their position was the basis of the exhortations that follow.

3. AS:

a. Paul just reminded these believers that they were elect, set apart for God, consecrated as priests of God, and beloved of the Father.

b. Their behavior should be AS their position.

c. They were exhorted to show mercy and kindness to others AS those who were recipients of God’s mercy and kindness!

d. As someone who is BELOVED of God (not on the basis of merit, but by God’s grace)… they too should chose to place their love and mercy on others… without regard to merit!

4. These exhortations are Pauline Expressions of Grace.

a. The Colossians WERE in Adam… and God transformed them INWARDLY to new men in Christ.
• This was God’s work in them… pure grace.
• They are no longer the old man they used to be, but a new man… indwelt by the Holy Spirit and Christ.
• BECAUSE they are a new man, they should BEHAVE in a manner fitting who they are!
• The inward work of God – the miracle of regeneration—if GENUINE—will manifest itself outwardly.
• Hence, these exhortations—if you are a new creature in Christ—then wear new clothing!

b. The Colossians were chosen by God, set apart by God unto Himself, (saints) and showered with God’s love—pure grace.
• Hence, they were to show mercy and kindness to others, NOT in order to become saints or to obtain God’s love… BUT because they already ARE saints and already ARE recipients of God’s love!
• The motivation is thus love and gratitude… grace.

c. The more we dwell upon what God has done for us, (our position) the more motivated we will be to do unto others (our condition)!

d. And when we CHOOSE to do unto others because we WANT to (not because we have to), then the power is not human willpower, but the resurrection power indwelling LIFE operative in the life of a Spirit filled believer who is yielded to God.

e. That is the rule of life in the age of grace… Christ’s character is being manifested through us… freely, willingly, for His honor and glory… as a powerful witness to the world!

B. Put On

1. ἐνδύω = to put on; to put on clothes or be clothed with (in the sense of sinking into a garment).

a. Used in Matt. 6:25 – Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.

b. It is used metaphorically too—especially in the sense of “putting on character”… deeds, good works, holiness, etc.

c. That is the sense in which it is used in Col. 3:12

d. It was used in the negative in Col.3:8 – put off bad behavior… like one would take off his dirty clothes.

e. Good behavior is spoken of in the Bible as fine white linen. Unrighteous deeds are described by Isaiah as “filthy rags.”

f. In vs.12, Paul tells us to PUT ON clean clothes… mercy, kindness, humility, etc…

g. Putting on these qualities by practicing them is the effect of this RENEWING process Paul mentioned in vs. 10.

h. The more mercy, kindness, humility, etc. that we put on, the more we are growing in the image of Christ!

2. Imperative – it is a COMMAND!

a. It is our responsibility

b. The old man has already been PUT OFF. (3:9)
• But it is OUR responsibility to put off the SINS that characterized the old man… (3:8)

c. The new man has already been PUT ON (3:10)
• And it is OUR responsibility to put on the VIRTUES that should characterize the new man in Christ.
• It is not enough to put off the old vices. They are to be replaced with virtues!

d. This is Paul’s command in vs.12 – PUT ON the virtues listed here.

e. Of course we do this by reckoning self to be dead and by yielding our members unto God to used as instruments unto righteousness.

f. As we do that, we are filled with the Holy Spirit… and GOD works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

g. If we yield our members to God, He will surely use them as instruments of righteousness.

h. God will take those members and use them to show mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering to others! This is the wardrobe of the saints!

i. God doesn’t do this FOR us or INSTEAD of us. Rather, He works THROUGH us.

j. He works through clean, yielded, surrendered, consecrated vessels… vessels for the master’s use… channels only.

C. Put on Bowels of Mercies

1. Bowels: it was used of the intestines, liver, and the inward parts.

a. Used of Judas: he was hung and all his bowels gushed out

b. Used figuratively of the seat of emotions, affections, and passions, the mind and heart… the inner man.

c. Paul uses it in that sense here too.

2. Mercies

a. Oiktirmós is the pity or compassion which one shows for the sufferings of others… tender compassion… mercy…

b. II Cor. 1:3 – God is called the Father of all mercy.
• Every believer has received infinite mercy from the heavenly Father in saving us! (Titus 3:4)
• His mercies are new every morning!

c. Rom.12:1 – we are urged to yield ourselves to God because we have all been the RECIPIENTS of God’s mercies.

d. When we present ourselves to God—He will FILL US with His mercies to show to others.

3. We are commanded to PUT ON bowels of mercies.

a. Those who have been the recipients of Divine mercy have a responsibility to show mercy to others.

b. Luke 6:36 – “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” Mercy is a family trait in the family of God.

c. We are to be ROBED in mercy… like a garment…

d. Phil. 2:1 – if you have been the recipient of God’s mercies, it is our responsibility to SHOW mercy to others! If so, we should learn to be likeminded… to be of one accord with those with whom we might otherwise not get along.

4. Consider how VITAL this exhortation must have been to the members of the first century church!

a. God was saving folks from all different walks of life… all different backgrounds…

b. How needful was it for these folks to show MERCY to their brethren!

c. How important for the Gentile majority in the church in Colossae to show MERCY and pity to the relatively small number of Hebrew Christians in their midst! They might be shunned in the city, but not in the local church!

d. How important for the slave masters to show MERCY to those who were in bondage to slavery! What a testimony to the power of God! That kind of mercy didn’t occur all that often in the world!

e. And for the educated, sophisticated, cultured Greeks to show mercy to the relatively uncivilized but saved Barbarians and Scythians in the Body!

f. When the Body functioned in that manner, it was an expression of the mercy of CHRIST through His Body.

g. It was not merely a display of humanitarian efforts or philanthropy.
• Remember, the purpose of the local church is not just to improve the earthly conditions of men.
• That’s the ultimate goal of man made religion… to help others… to feed the poor… to improve the earthly conditions of those who are oppressed.
• It is humanism… it sees no further than the earth… and in the end, it brings glory to man.

h. The Body of Christ was designed to manifest divine, indwelling LIFE to men and thus magnify Christ who from heaven orchestrates it all through His Spirit!

i. This is heavenly in nature and glorifies the Lord.

j. Cf. vs. 11 – Jews and Greeks! Masters and their slaves! Rich landowners and poor farm workers! Barbarians and Scythians!
• Some might say, what FRICTION that must have created!
• That is so, but it is also true that it created OPPORTUNITIES to manifest the mercy of God!
• When one member suffers, ALL the members suffer with it… and hence, discover ways to SHOW mercy!
• That’s how a body works. (broken leg…)
• While all the different backgrounds of folks in Salem Bible Church CAN be cause for much friction here, it SHOULD be the cause of many opportunities to show MERCY to one another!
• LOOK for opportunities to show MERCY to a brother or sister in Christ in need!
• Opportunities abound for those with eyes to see!
• God allows His saints to suffer (in part) as an opportunity for other saints to manifest the mercy of God before men and angels as they SHOW MERCY to a suffering brother in Christ.
• Of course, it requires sacrifice too… and therein is manifested the mercy of God to men and angels!

D. Put on Kindness

1. Kindness: χρηστότης – gentleness; kindness.

a. This term is listed as part of the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22, translated gentleness.

b. As believers, we have all been recipients of God’s kindness and gentleness.
• Titus 3:4 – But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared…
• Eph. 2:7 – That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

c. Zodhiates: defines the term as the grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would be been harsh and austere.
• He cites an interesting use of the term in Luke 5:39: No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
• “Better” = the word for kindness… gentle… the wine mellowed with age. It is better… less harsh…
• A form of this word is used in I Cor. 13:4 – Charity suffereth long, and is kind.
• This calm, kind, and gentle spirit should be exhibited in DEEDS of love… That’s how we PUT ON bowels of mercy.

d. Jesus used this term to describe His yoke. (Matt. 11:30) “My yoke is EASY and my burden light.”
• Trying to pull the weight of religion is burdensome… it is an impossible task.
• But the yoke of Christ (discipleship) is relatively easy. It is “less harsh” than the unending burden of religion that can NEVER purge the conscience or give rest to the heart!
• Even though the requirements of discipleship are costly, they are less harsh than religion… for Christ works IN us to bear the load… rather than struggling to bear it alone… in our own strength.

2. We are commanded to PUT ON kindness… to wear it as a garment befitting a new creature in Christ.

a. HOW to put on kindness?
• It is a fruit of the Spirit.
• It will flow NATURALLY from us when our heart is surrendered to God and our members are yielded to God. When we submit to Christ’s yoke—regardless the price…
• The kindness of GOD will be manifested TO us and THROUGH us to others.
• The Spirit filled believer WILL be kind… and this kindness is genuine, not forced.

b. It is manifested more often and flows out of one’s life more naturally in MATURE believers… who have grown in grace and become more kind… less harsh… mellowed over time!
• Like new wine, a new believer often tends to be a bubbly and excited…
» And perhaps at times he is a bit caustic in his approach to others… like vinegar.
» He may be excited about the truth and speak the truth with bubbly zeal… but has not yet learned to speak the truth in LOVE…
» He may be bubbly and blurting out things that are true… but has not yet learned to be tactful… and considerate… and thus he leaves sour taste… like vinegar.
• Like aged wine, a mature believer has learned to be a bit mellower in dealing with his brethren.
» He has learned to let his speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt…
» He has learned that a soft answer turns away wrath… and enables him to be a peacemaker with others in the local church who may be of a different background… where there might be a potential for friction.
» The mature believer who is KIND… gentle… mellow… has learned not to overreact during unpleasant or disagreeable circumstances that occur…
» As the hymnwriter wrote: “Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest. Closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on thy loving breast.”

3. Kindness; gentleness: what a valuable and necessary quality in times of turmoil and trouble in the local church!

a. Upsetting things DO happen in the Body of Christ.

b. People problems do arise. Controversy IS stirred up from time to time…

c. But when the members of the Body have been practicing putting on KINDNESS… gentleness… a mellow spirit… their soft, gentle answers go a long way in putting out the flames of wrath that seek to devour the church!

d. I’m sure some of the habits of the Barbarians could easily have stirred up anger on the part of the cultured Greeks in the assembly… but it didn’t have to if they were KIND… and gentle!

e. A harsh tone is a sign of the flesh and tends to dissolve the mortar that holds the House of God together.

f. A mellow, gentle spirit is the fruit of the Spirit… and that is like the glue… the mortar that holds the House of God together.

g. We are living stones… each one of us making up the House of the Living God… the church.

h. No two stones are exactly the same. Christlike character—especially KINDNESS… gentleness… is the cement that BINDS us together to form a STRONG Temple… a strong church through which the Lord seeks to manifest Himself.

4. What a testimony to the world! People with such varied backgrounds showing KINDNESS and a gentle spirit one to another!

a. Luke 6:35 – God is KIND even towards the unthankful and evil!

b. We should be gentle and kind—even when folks don’t deserve such treatment… because that’s the way God treats us!

c. This kind of kindness and gentleness requires the power of God.

d. It is SUPERNATURAL… and hence, it sends forth a compelling witness to the power of God operating in the Body of Christ to both men and angels.

e. God’s power is so great it enables a Jew to be kind to a Gentile! A cultured Greek to be kind to a Barbarian! And you to be kind towards me… or some other Barbarian in the church!

f. Men are watching. Let’s yield ourselves to God and manifest CHRIST… not our fallen flesh!

g. Christ is in heaven and the world cannot see Him. But His Body is on earth, and they are watching. As we display His mercy and kindness… men and angels see Christ in us!

IF YOU ARE NOT SAVED… you too can experience the mercy, love, and kindness of God!

Titus 3:4-6 – But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Back to top of page

Back to Chapter-3 Index

Back to Colossians Index

Back to Bible Studies