Clothed With Christ

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12, NIV).

The Apostle Paul uses clothing in Colossians as his image for how we should live in Christ.

In the first century, most people wore a tunic, or two rectangular pieces of clothing sewn together with openings for the head and arms. Around the tunic would be a mantle or one piece of cloth wrapped around the body on top of the tunic.

Because of Old Testament laws the Jews couldn’t wear clothing of mixed fabrics (Leviticus 19:19). And tunics and mantles would be made of durable material like wool (very scratchy) and for the wealthy perhaps linen.

They didn’t purchase designer mantles and they couldn’t purchase cheap tunics at Walmart. Every item was handmade, with most people only owning one tunic and one mantle. They didn’t have a winter mantle and summer mantle, and they didn’t dye their tunics to match their skin tone on their personal color palette.

When clothes were thrown away, they were worn out to the point of being useless. Now we understand the drama of Paul’s statement when he writes…

 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things (Colossians 3:8, NIV).

Since you have taken off your old self with its practices (Colossians 3:9, NIV).

The words “rid” and “taken off” in the Greek are words used in reference to taking off and discarding old and worthless clothing.

In Colossians 3:5-6, Paul describes old clothing (attitudes and actions) that we should throw away. The list includes sexual immorality, lust, greed, anger, slander, and filthy language.

In Colossians 3, we also read this phrase—“clothe yourselves.”

You must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12, NLT).

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14, NLT).

The message of Colossians 3 is throwing away old clothing and wearing the new clothing provided by Jesus. With the clothing illustration in mind, let’s read the beginning of Colossians 3 which contains a key to victorious living as a follower of Jesus.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth (Colossians 3:1-2, NLT).

I confess that I own more than one tunic and mantle. In fact, I have so many shirts, pants, and sweaters that they hang unworn for years, testimonies to the vicissitudes of modern changing styles and my poor taste.

Recently, I went through my closet and bagged up the unused garments, taking them to the clothing closet at my church.

Taking off and putting on—perhaps we all need spring cleaning for our soul.

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