When someone restores an old car, it is not enough to simply paint over the rust. Even if the paint is of highest quality, the rust will soon reappear and if not quickly treated will destroy the car's body. The rust must be removed and rusted parts replaced before the car is painted.
God's grace is similar in that it enables us to get rid of "the old self" before restoring our capacity to live in accord with the Creator's intentions. This is the logic of conversion; and that logic is envisioned by this passage, which casts its first ethical exhortation in negative terms: put to death immorality and rid yourselves of it. Sin is where God's grace begins its work by rescuing sinners from the "dominion of darkness" and its destructive ethos. And those who have died and risen with Christ to a new life (3:1-4) have already put to death those things that are opposed to that life (compare Rom 6:4-11). The moral imperative, then, is to become what one has already become in and with Christ. In negative terms, if vice has been crucified with Christ, then vice must be crucified by those in him.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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