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Our New Identity in Christ
Colossians 3:10-14

Understanding the New Self

Paul J. Bucknell

Many Christians totally misunderstand their life in Christ and therefore needlessly struggle with their Christian faith. In Colossians 3:10-14 Paul clarifies the theological understanding of our Christian life and how to live it affects our approach to life. IIC - Identity in Christ


For those who use computers or smart phones, an illustration might help. Our new life functions similar to a brand new operating system for a computer device. Each computer uses an operating device as the underlying software which provides the many basic functions of the computer. The applications or programs use this operational system to carry out the purposes of their applications. Our bodies are like that computer. It doesn’t change but only gets older. When we become a believer, it gains a new operating system. Our bodies, then, like a computer, runs by this new system. The old one can be reinstalled, but one can only operate by one operating system at a time.

The new life that the Lord has given to us is not just an upgrade from a previous system. No, no. The new life is a completely new operating system for our lives and, in fact, runs contrary to the former one, the old man. This is grand news.

Clarifying and Affirming our identity in Christ

We do not need to live the old way of life, focused on fulfilling our needs filled with anger, wrath, curses and sensuality, but according to the new life in Christ, which focuses on serving God and others. This is the reason we speak of our new identity. It is not just the improved us, but a radically different us because of Christ living in us. This is the IIC, Identity In Christ.

The first part, verses Colossians 3:10-11 states the truths about our identity in Christ while verses 12-14 uncover how these truths apply to our lives.

A. Clarifying our True Identity (Col 3:10-11)

    1. Five Christian life facts
    2. The New Self

B. Affirming our True Identity (Col 3:12-14)

    1. Three truth facts (3:12)
    2. Two 'Put ons' (3:12,14)
    3. Eight rules (3:12-14)

A. Clarifying our True Identity (Col 3:10-11)

The facts of our spiritual lives

“10 Have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him 11 --a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” (Col 3:10-11 NASB).

Five Christian life facts

Here are five Christian growth facts that Paul uses to explain various aspects of this great redemptive plan of God.
All Christian believers have a new self (as in contrary to the old self).Five Christian life facts

  1. Have put on the new self

    The original Greek word Paul used for self is really ‘man’ or ‘person.’ Just as our old self animated our old being–the old sinful life, along with its selfish desires and abilities, so now Christ’s Spirit brings life to our new person.

  2. The life or power of the new self can be strengthened.

  3. This new self is purposed or destined to be like its Creator (image of One who created Him).

  4. This renewal is the same for all Christian believers, no matter our religious backgrounds, educational level, economical standing, cultural awareness or association or even if one is at a cultural caste or state.

  5. We all develop together into Christ’s fullness (i.e. body grows)

    These words speaking of a new self are not empty words but summarize the new life activity soaring through all the lives of all believers, ushering us all towards the same goal of Christ’s likeness. Christ Jesus Himself is animating us closer and closer to God. But if we, live in unbelief and think things not according to the truth, then we will end up very confused, resulting in tragic lives. The Lord now lives in our lives to carry out His ways and plans.


These are some powerful truths, all hold great implications for our lives. If we do not know or believe the importance of these things, then we will sense a great tension in our lives. We will ask, “Why does our faith not work? What is wrong?”
This is the reason discipleship is so important because it gets us all, at an early stage of Christian life, to the same mindset of understanding God’s purpose in our lives. Discipleship helps young believers learn how to live out Christ’s life. Without this training, we will face enormous misunderstandings of God, the gospel, and our life, thus causing much misunderstanding, making us even more susceptible to the evil one’s devious devices.

(Each is looked at in more detail in our New Testament library).

B. Affirming our True Identity (Col 3:12-14)

Guidance on living out our spiritual lives

12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)

In verses 12-14, Paul guides us as to how this new life works it way out in our lives. We often are unfamiliar with the what the new life practically means. But just like when we get a new computer, it is so helpful for someone to show how to do different things. The short instructions unlock so much potential. So it is true for the young believer.

There are three parts to this section. Three truths (3:12), most closely relevant to the life we are to live out; Two ‘Put on’ statements (3:12,14); and Eight rules (3:12-14).

Three Truth Facts (Col 3:12)

In the first part of verse 12, Paul again reminds us of the relevant truth:

In Colossians 2:6 we see the past tense used: “have received Christ Jesus the Lord.” (Note again is does not say “as Lord,” making it a different experience from receiving Christ as Savior, as many believers speculate, but receiving Christ Jesus the Lord–His full title, clearly expanded at the end of Colossians chapter 1. The “have received” speak about what has happened and will have continuing influence into the future. Practically, Paul is stating that the union with God through Christ and the Spirit’s work in our lives continues on and so this growth should be anticipated.

Two ‘Put on’ Statements (Col 3:12,14)

New self in ChristPerhaps, we should begin this discussion with the ‘put off’ from verse 3:8, “Put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander….” There should be no surprise that this call to allegiance to the new self first starts with a call to stop living according to the old man.

Eight Commands (Col 3:12-14)

Paul lists eight rules for God’s new kingdom. These character traits are typified by the new life that we believers possess. When we do not live by them, our lives become totally frustrating: The umpire calls us out, the red flag is thrown down, and we will be totally confused what went wrong.

1. Compassion

Compassion is that gentleness of heart that is not quick to pass judgment or criticism, namely because they are very aware of their own moral frailty and live because of God’s compassion on them.

2. Kindness

Kindness is that gracious disposition toward another, thinking of a person’s welfare and therefore willing to go beyond the law of politeness to care for a person’s genuine needs. “It is kindness expressed in attitude and deed. It is the friendly and helpful spirit which seeks to meet the needs of others through kind deed” (Linguistic Key, p. 580).


It is obvious that God’s love for us, Christ’s person and radiance, the full revelation of God the Father, ought to greatly shape and influence our lives. Each of us are uniquely designed, and yet, we are animated by His love, empowered by His Spirit and guided by the BFF New Testament Biblical LibraryFather’s will. This defines our new person.

Any inconsistency, however, in our behavior with our calling brings confusion about our identity in Christ. Satan would want us to conclude that we are not the Lord’s and should not concern ourselves with the Christian calling.

(Each is looked at in more detail in our New Testament library found in our BFF store, available on the cloud in on Library).

=> Basic Study Questions

(The video/audio, powerpoint slides, and full commentary is found in the New Testament Libraryalong with all our other gigabytes of NT resources).

Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted: (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988

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