Wearing What Suits You

Wearing What Suits You

“Wearing What Suits You”
(Colossians 3:12-14)
Series: The All-Satisfying Christ (Colossians)

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson

• Take your Bibles and join me in Colossians, chapter 3 (page 793; YouVersion).

We are preaching our way, verse-by-verse, through the Book of Colossians and we are in a very practical section of this letter where the Apostle Paul is using this metaphor of putting on clothes. Our Christian lives are like a daily putting off and putting on of behaviors, putting off things that don’t suit us, things like—from last week’s passage—sexual immorality, lust, greed, anger, filthy language, and putting on things like compassion, kindness, humility and so on.

Another way Paul put this from last week’s passage was by saying that Christians are to “put to death” the things that belong to their earthly natures, the evil things that tend to lurk within. So we talked about this in connection with Romans 6:11 where Paul says Christians are to “Reckon themselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ.” We are regularly to “Consider ourselves dead to sin.” When faced with temptation and sin we immediately say, “I’m dead to that” and we end it there.

I wonder how that went for you last week? Did you find yourself saying that regularly throughout each day? Temptations to sin abound. We are tempted to be vengeful, angry, bitter, lustful, prideful, selfish. The Christian’s immediate response to such temptation is to say, “I’m dead to that.” I’m dead to that and alive to God in Christ.

Remember that Paul began this practical section by telling us to “Seek those things which are above,” to “Set our minds on things above, and not on things on earth.” We can do this because we have, in fact, died to our old self and have been raised with Christ.

I believe I’ve shared with you before about Saint Augustine who was saved out of a life of sin that included the sin of sexual immorality. Shortly after his conversion he was walking down the street when he happened to see a former acquaintance headed towards him, a woman of ill repute, a prostitute. And when he saw her, he immediately turned away and began to walk in the opposite direction. She cried out to him, “But Augustine, it is I!” And he replied, “Yes, but it is not I.”

And that was his way of acknowledging that he had changed. He had died to the old self and that he was in the process of dying daily to the things that characterize the old self.

Paul says we are to “put to death” and “put off” those old behaviors like putting off old, dirty clothing, and we are to “Put on” new clothing, new behaviors that match our new identity in Christ, wearing what suits us.

Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering;
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.



I really do believe these verses in chapter 3 have the potential to change us into the persons we desperately want to be. I really do think that the overwhelming majority of us who are Christians would say that we really want to walk in personal holiness. And of course that is what these verses are all about here. Paul tells us to seek the things above, not the things on earth, put to death the evil things that tend to lurk within, put them off and put on godly virtue. Walk in personal holiness.

There is power in the Word of God and our reading this passage, and studying this passage, and endeavoring to live this passage will result in God’s glory and our good.

Listen to JC Ryle on this matter of personal holiness:

“Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.”

That’s a good word, isn’t it? May God grant us grace this morning to hate what He hates, love what He loves, and to measure everything in this world by the standard of His perfect Word, the Bible.

Some things to take away and remember from this passage of Scripture today. First:

Remember Who You Are [12a]

If you are a Christian, a follower of Christ, then there are three words that identify you in verse 12. Paul writes: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, “put on tender mercies, kindness,” and so forth.

But look again, “As the elect of God, holy, and beloved,” live this way. So there are three things Paul reminds Christians that they are. They are elect, holy, and beloved.


The word “Elect” is where we get the “doctrine of election.” It means God has chosen us. That’s why other translations have “as God’s chosen ones” or “as God’s chosen people.”
We may not understand everything about the doctrine of election, but of one thing we may be absolutely certain: if we are saved and we have come to faith in Christ, it is only because God made the first move. We were dead in trespasses and sin and God—based upon no foreseen merit or goodness on our part—but based solely upon His electing love, solely upon His desire to set His affection upon us, chose us out of the darkness of our condition, took out our cold heart of stone, and gave us a heart of flesh.

This happened through the instrument of our faith. We believed Christ, trusted Christ, but we believed only because He first graced us with the ability to believe and repent.

And what Paul does here is to say, “Because that is true, because God came to you and blessed you with this tremendous gift of grace and brought you into His family and has given you the joy and wonder of eternal life, because God did that, shouldn’t you live in such a way as to look like you belong to His family?” That’s, in essence, what Paul is doing here in verse 12. Since you are God’s chosen one, shouldn’t you live in such a way that people will recognize you as a true son of your Father?”

As the elect of God, and holy.


As those who are holy, or set-apart from sin, and Satan. As those who, by the righteousness of Christ, are now in a position of favor with God, covered in Christ’s righteousness, as those who are holy, Paul says, then live this way.

This is who you are. Remember who you are. You are elect, holy, and then the third identifier in verse 12:


Again, this is all in verse 12. This is who the Christian is. This is your identity. “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved.”

Beloved means loved of God. If you are a Christian you are loved of God! There is a special love God has for His children. He has a general love for all His creation. God so loved the world that He gave His Son to die, but God has a particular, special love for those He has adopted into His family. They are the beloved of God, the ones who have died, and whose lives are hidden with Christ in God. Beloved.

So Paul is saying, “Because of your identity, because of who you are, Christian, here’s your motivation. Because you are elect, or chosen, holy, and beloved, then live this way. Live like the person you are. See that your behavior matches your identity. Bring your behavior in line with your identity.”

Remember who you are. Secondly from this passage, remember this: take this home today:

Remember How You Live [12b-14]

So Paul now gives the second part of the clothing metaphor. He has shown us that there are a number of things we are to put off, like old clothes, those old things that characterize our former selves, put them off, and now:

There are several items of “clothing” we must “put on” (12b-13)

There are several items of clothing we must put on. You can make a note of these in the text. The first in verse 12 is “Tender mercies.” Do you see that? Verse 12:

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies,

Other translations have “Compassion” or “Compassionate hearts.” Christians are to dress themselves with compassion. It’s similar to the next item of clothing, “kindness.” When people look at us they ought to see that we are “wearing” compassion and kindness.

We are God’s elect, holy, and beloved so we are going to look like the One who chose us. We ought to look like the One who set us apart, and loves us with a special love. We are going to look like our Lord and our Lord was compassionate.

Remember that place in Scripture where the Bible says that Jesus looked out at over Jerusalem and weeped over the people? He had a heart of compassion. We are followers of Christ and Christ is “in us” and so we too have hearts of compassion. Jesus fed the hungry, blessed the poor, and healed the hurting and, as His followers, we do too. That’s our natural inclination when we “put on tender mercies.”

Back before school started there was a young man who came by one day asking to speak with the pastor. It was one of those times I was out making a visit and others were at lunch or traveling somewhere. And so the person was told that a minister wasn’t available at the moment. And one of our volunteers told me later that she just happened to be there and saw the man dejectedly heave a heavy sigh and turn around, take a couple steps, and just lean against the wall. And it was raining.

She told me that just couldn’t stand to see him helpless and in the rain so she went outside and invited him inside. She just sat and listened to him as he gave an emotional accounting of what had been going on in his life. He was just hoping to get a night in a hotel or someplace where he could clear his head.

She gave him a couple towels to keep warm and just listened to his story. One of our students was in the building and he went and picked up some food for him. They ate together as the student shared with him how he could have peace with God. The guy listened and nodded, but was ready to head on his way.

The volunteer called over the Harbor House and they had a bed available. The guy didn’t want a ride, so she said she wasn’t sure whether he was really planning on going there. But she said, “I just couldn’t turn someone away in the rain with no offer of some form of help.” That’s tender mercies, that’s compassion and kindness.

“You can’t help everybody, but you can help somebody in a way that you’d like to help everybody.”

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility,

Humility is another characteristic of the new self, another item of spiritual clothing we are to put on regularly; humility, considering others better than ourselves as the apostle teaches in Philippians 2:3-4:

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Taken together with these other virtues of verse 12, these other times of spiritual clothing, meekness, and long-suffering, we get a picture of a person who always remembers his own identity as the means by which to bless other people.

Listen to Herbert Carson here:

Herbert Carson, “As to his own estimate of himself, the believer is to be humble. This will affect his attitude [toward] others, for it is only the man who sees himself as the object of God’s mercy and who acknowledges that he has no rights to assert, who will be patient with others.”

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering;

Then Paul adds two other articles of spiritual clothing in verse 13:

13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…

“Bearing with” is to tolerate. To tolerate a person; not tolerating false teaching, but tolerating the varying personalities of our brother’s and sisters.

It goes right along with the next character quality and that is “forgiveness.”

13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Now folks, this matter of forgiveness is as plain a teaching in the Scriptures as that there is a God. There is no excuse for failing to forgive another brother or sister.

Our Lord assumes we will do this. He has taught us as much in the model prayer in Matthew 6:12:

He said, Pray this way: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Or, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”

He adds a couple verses later in Matthew 6:14-15:

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Later, Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.—Matthew 18:21-22.

The Bible says in verse 13, “If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Forgiveness is not an option. Someone offends you, forgive them. Even if they don’t come and make it right, you can still forgive them. Did you know that?

Listen to Jesus again from:

Mark 11:25-26, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Let me ask a question:

How has Jesus treated you insofar as “bearing with” you and “forgiving” you? Has He set the example that He taught? 70 times 7? So even as Christ forgave you, so you also must forgive that person you haven’t yet forgiven.

Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must forgive your spouse, your wayward child, your mother, your father, your fellow brother your sister; church member.

Forgiveness is something we must “Put on” all the time. Wear it. It suits you.

There are several items of clothing we must put on. Then:

There is the “glue” we must have that holds everything together (14)

What is this glue? What is the one thing that holds everything else together? It is love. Verse 14:

14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

Love is the glue that holds everything together. Love is what “completes” the outfit. Love is the bond that brings perfection and completeness.

1 Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”—Proverbs 10:12.

Put off the old and put on the new. “Put to death” and “put off” the old self—and everything associated with the old self—and “put on” the new, put on those things that suit you, that match who you are in Christ.

Let me give you something this week that may help. We have said before that when you are tempted to sin, remember to say, “I’m dead to that, but alive to God in Christ.”

Now, here’s something else to do. After you have said, “I’m dead to that” and you’ve “put off” the thing that characterized the old you, now “put on” its opposite virtue.

For example, when tempted to lust or commit sexual immorality, put it off. Kill it. Say, “I’m dead to that, but alive to God in Christ” and then put on sexual purity.

When tempted to be bitter, say, “I’m dead to that. I used to be bitter when I was not a Christian, but I’ve died to that old way of life. And now I put on contentment and peace and joy.”

When tempted to not forgive, remember who you are! Elect, holy, beloved! And remember how you live, “I’m dead to unforgiveness, but alive to God in Christ, and so I now choose to forgive by “putting on” forgiveness. It suits me!

See, when you put on those new spiritual clothes, you won’t want to put the old ones back on over them. You will like the way the new ones feel on you. You’ll like the way they “fit.” They just feel right. They were made for you. They match your identity.

They look just right on you. You will not want to put on those old sins anymore if you will but put on the new virtues of purity, compassion, kindness, humility, forgiveness, and love—because you find a satisfaction in them that you cannot find elsewhere.

God honors your wearing what suits you. He blesses that daily dressing up. He grants you a greater joy and peace when you obey His Word. He shows you by your obedience that you are fully complete in Him.

Remember, the key verse of this book is Colossians 2:10, “You complete in Him,” complete in Christ. He is the all-satisfying One in whom you are fully accepted by God, fully beloved of God. Seek, then, the things that are above and not the things on earth.


I read once about an aviator named Frederick Handley Page, considered something of a pioneer in modern aviation.

One time Page was flying his airplane somewhere in the Middle East when he began to hear a sound that startled him. It was a chewing kind of sound, the sound a rodent makes when it is gnawing through something. This caused Page to become alarmed because a rat chewing through electrical wiring could cause sudden mechanical failure.

But what could he do since he was flying solo? Then he remembered something he had learned years ago in school. He remembered that rats could not survive in high altitudes. So he pulled back on the stick and flew the airplane as high as he could, beginning to have some trouble breathing himself, all the while listening for the sound of the rat’s gnawing to stop.

Eventually, it did stop and later when Page landed his plane, he discovered the huge rodent lying dead behind the cockpit.

And do you know, many of us have some kind of rat gnawing in our lives. The rat of sin takes many forms. It could be the huge rat of sexual immorality, or pornography, or lust, or greed, or selfishness in a marriage, the rat of fear or the rat of bitterness or worldliness, or some other sin gnawing at your life. If you don’t deal with the rat of sin gnawing in your life, it could cause damage, and cause you to fall into a tailspin and come crashing down.

Paul teaches in this passage that you can put that sin to death by seeking those things which are above. So go up, set your mind on things above, get up their in the spiritual realm where you remember who you are and what you have in Christ. Elect! Holy! Beloved! Set your mind and heart on things above and rat of sin won’t be able to breathe and you will choke it out and put it to death.

• Stand for prayer.

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