That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
B2.1 Not as the Gentiles
Receiving Christ and being born anew is only the start of things. There has to be a continuation in this life in Christ. The question is: how do we continue? The NT tells us plainly us how to: to walk worthy of Christ. That is, walk as He walked, in the Spirit.
The Ephesian passage explains what this means. We are to walk not as the Gentiles, or as the unsaved do, in the vanity of their minds. Paul then explains in detail how this works out in practice.
Firstly, the Gentiles have their understanding darkened. They have no light. Because of that every act is in darkness. If we apply this to the message of Colossians, we see that the Philosophy of this world comes from a mind of darkness. It is based on the principle of self-realisation in some form or another. But self is the problem! It is this philosophy of self-realisation that caused Adam and Eve to fall in the first place. Philosophy is the way of the Gentiles and not God’s way.
The same goes for Legalism. it is the flesh’s way of trying to find favour with God. All the world’s religions are based on this principle. That is how much credit can I obtain to please God? The only difference in the religions is what sort of work needs to be done. Again, this is not God’s way, for by the works of the flesh shall no man be justified in His sight.
Mysticism is also from the dark mind of the unregenerated heart. Trying to find suitable experiences to get closer to God, whether it be by supernatural experiences or ascetic practices. This, once more is a Gentile practice, and not of God. Therefore, the believer is not to walk in them.
The reason for this darkness? Being alienated from the life of God. The heart is seeking for the truth, but instead of turning to the living God men turn to their own inventions. Whether it be Philosophy, Legal systems or Mysticism. All these are attempts to satisfy the human need, but they are deceptions, and lead away from God and not towards Him. We can only come to the Father through Jesus Christ and not in by of these things Jn.14:6.
Not only that but also in the continuation of the Christian life. It can only be by walking in Christ, and not any of the things mentioned above. Philosophy, legalism & mysticism can never save us, nor can they take us on in the Christian life.
If believers walk as do the Gentiles, then they give themselves over to the works of the flesh with its resultant outcomes. These are mentioned in detail in Gal.5:19-21. To walk as Gentiles is not walking in the wisdom and understanding that comes from above, it is rather to walk in the wisdom of this world. No wonder Paul in his payer prayed for the Colossians to have true spiritual wisdom.
B2.2 Put on the new man.
To walk worthy of the Lord we need to put off our former way of life. The habits of our previous life need to be put away and new habits put on.
Paul in Colossians talks of our day-by-day walk is to be pleasing to God. Being fruitful and increasing in the knowledge of God. A principle of life is that it increases in what it is, if nourished and cared for. God’s life in the believer will grow, but only as we eat and drink of Christ. In doing so we grow and changed ever more into His likeness.