Chapter three introduces the practical steps believers can take to make sure we do not get caught up in these other foolish things that take us away from Christ. The most important step is to keep our minds focused on Christ himself, rather than on other things (Colossians 3:1-11). Truly spiritual things are higher than the earthly things Paul’s enemies focused on. Since our life is found in Christ, our focus should remain solely on him. Secondly, we can work to “put to death whatever in [our] nature belongs to the earth.” This includes any “fleshly desires which do battle against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). These things bring God’s wrath against unbelievers (Ephesians 5:6), so we should not be surprised that he hates them in believers as well. We are to “put off the old man with its practices” and replace that sinful nature “with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it” (see Ephesians 4:22-24). This is possible for every believer, no matter one’s background, ethnicity, or social status.
Because of our new status in Christ – “elect of God, holy and dearly loved” – we should live out Christ’s love for our fellow believers (see Philippians 2:1-11; Ephesians 4:1-3). As he wrote in Ephesians 5:18-21 about submitting to the Holy Spirit, Paul encouraged the Colossians to build up one another with encouragement from Scripture. Ultimately, no matter what we do, we should do it as agents of the Lord Jesus. Assuming that the Colossians would read the other letter (Ephesians) as well, Paul gave a shortened version of his list of example relationships found in Ephesians 5:22 – 6:9, giving only one line each to wives, husbands, children, and masters. He did write a longer encouragement to slaves, possibly due to the situation of Onesimus returning to Philemon in Colossae along with his letter at this same time.