Colossians 3:13-16 As we look at the arc of Colossians 3, we discover that Paul is talking about two contexts of sanctification, one larger and one smaller. The smaller context refers to our personal sanctification, or how we walk with God as individual Christians. Certainly, this is the basis of our spiritual walk, because the journey of faith is a journey that cannot be lived vicariously- each of us must walk with God on our own. No one but Christ can save us, and no other person can be godly or holy on our behalf- we will stand individually before the judgment seat of Christ, and individually give an account for our own lives.
However, the larger context of ch. 3 refers to the individual Christian as he fits into the gathered assembly of Christians, the church. Going back to ch. 1, Paul has been refuting false teachers within the church; he boldly states that false teaching in the church must be replaced with sound doctrine (ch. 2); and now, as a testament that our lives are being lived by sound doctrine, Paul emphasizes the transformed behavior of Christians within the church in ch. 3. Thus we see phrases like “do not lie to one another..,” (vs. 9); “there is neither Greek nor Jew…” (vs. 11); “bearing with one another…” (vs. 13); “you were called in one body…” (vs. 15); “teaching and admonishing one another…” (vs. 16). The clear emphasis of the text is that the stated virtues of the Christ life must be most clearly manifested in the body of Christ, the church.