Last week we talked about letting our roots go down deeper. There is so much more to knowing Christ. There is a fullness in Him that He wants us to experience. The only way to get there is through knowing Jesus intimately and knowing our identity in Him. Today we will get a clearer picture of how to walk in this fullness of life in Christ.
I. New life in Christ
Colossians 3:1-4: Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
For Paul, demonstrating the life-changing power of the gospel is equally as important as defending it against error.
- Verse 1: Our exalted position in Christ is not a hypothetical thing, or a goal for which we strive. It is an accomplished fact.
- Verse 2: “Habitually set your mind—your attention—on things above, not on things on the earth” (literal translation).
- Our feet must be on earth, but our minds must be in heaven. This is not to suggest that (as D.L. Moody used to say) we become “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” It means that the practical everyday affairs of life get their direction from Christ in heaven. It means further that we look at earth from heaven’s point of view.
- Verse 4: Jesus is not peripheral to life; He is life. He imparts God’s life, and He is the center around which life should be oriented.
In other words, life is only in Christ. Everything outside of Christ in not life. Why does the Gospel of John tell us to abide in Christ? It's to give us a picture of what a life in Christ looks like.
The Colossians are able to fulfill the command daily to display the attention and affection towards spiritual things because of their identification with Christ by death to past, and empowerment for the present by the resurrection of Jesus.
II. Put off the old life
Colossians 3:5-9: So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.
Some translations use the words mortify the earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires Don't be greedy, an Idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
God's anger is coming against these things that will step all over any person in order to get what they want. You used to do these things when you were in the world. Get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature. For example, after His resurrection, Jesus took off his burial garments and put on his new glorified body in a robe of righteousness. Can you imagine Jesus or Lazarus putting those grave clothes back on? Why put the old life back on?
III. Put on new life
Colossians 3:10-15: Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
- Verse 10: You are to put on your new nature and be renewed as you learn to be like your Creator and become like Him.
- Verses 12 & 13: “Put on” is endunō (ἐνδυνω) - “to envelop in, clothe with.”
- Thayer, commenting on the use of this verb in 3:10 (put on the new man), defines it as follows: “to become so possessed of the mind of Christ as in thought, feeling, and action to resemble Him and, as it were, reproduce the life He lived.”
Identity comes through intimacy. Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This is the complete opposite of what was mentioned in the "put off"
section. We go from self-centeredness to selflessness. This is the clear distinction between the old nature and the new.
- Verse 14: These virtues are manifestations of love, but may be conceivably exhibited where love is absent. All of which goes to say that when these virtues are practiced without the accompaniment of divine love, they are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
It is impossible to live in this world and not have friction rise up in our relationships. People are going to hurt us as some point in time and they probably won’t mean to. Let Christ's peace rule in your hearts and always be thankful.
Colossians 3:16-17: Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
We see this word “let” throughout the book of Colossians. It a reminder to us that God never forces His way on our lives. We have to open our hearts to Him and let Him work in us. We are never going to experience His fullness if we don’t live our lives in Him. Let His message in all of its richness fill our lives. Take time to meditate on God's word. It reveals His love and His goodness. Teach and council each other with the wisdom He gives us. He is the source and his Wisdom comes through knowing Him.
Worship Him, because it reminds us of who He is and it brings a deeper connection to Him. A song I find myself singing a lot lately is "Endless Ocean" by Johnathan David Hesler. It speaks of the vastness of God and His love for us. Surrendering our all for Christ is an action of faith, and when we do that, Jesus comes to do things in us, to walk with us, and to bear us up.