Study 6 A CHAPTER ON HOLY LIVING
(Scripture Portion: Colossians 3: 1-25)
The whole thrust of Paul’s argument and appeal in this chapter may be summed up thus: “Christian, because of your union with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and exaltation, your life must be different!” The first two chapters of this letter are doctrinal, but now, with chapter three, we move into the practical and experimental teaching of the epistle. Our belief must behave; our creed must be translated into conduct; what we are “in Christ” (our standing) must be influenced by and must affect what we are (our state), wherever we are. The doctrine is vitally important, but we must make it attractive (Titus 2:10), and because of all that we are by virtue of our union with Christ, our whole life must be different.
1. WHAT ARE WE BY VIRTUE OF OUR UNION WITH CHRIST?
The expression “with Christ”, which occurs three times, (in verses 1, 3 and 4), gives us the answer.
- The first speaks of our POSITION with (or in) Christ. “Raised with Christ… ” (verse 1), and “died… with Christ” (verse 3). Through faith in Him we have died and have risen again - look up Colossians 2:12 and Galatians 2:20. In God’s reckoning every Christian has been crucified with Christ and raised with Him.
- The second speaks of our PROTECTION with (or in) Christ. “Hidden with Christ… ” (verse 3) and where is He? How wonderful this is: we are hidden with Christ in God! We are as safe as the Lord Jesus is. Could we be safer? This is true now and it will be true through all eternity.
- The third speaks of our PROSPECT with (or in) Christ. We are to be glorified (verse 4), and in the purpose of God this glorification of the saints is already an accomplished fact - look up Romans 8:30.
Thus, we see that by faith in Christ, through our union with Him, we have a new position, a new protection and a new prospect, and because of this our lives are to be different; our standing must influence our state; what we are “in Christ” must be seen in what we are in the world.
2. IN WHAT WAYS ARE OUR LIVES TO BE DIFFERENT?
- We must PUT OFF certain things. “Therefore put to death your earthward inclinations - fornication, impurity, sensual passion, unholy desire, and all greed, for that is a form of idolatry. It is on account of these very sins that God’s wrath is coming, and you also were once addicted to them, while you were living under their power. But now you must rid yourselves of every kind of sin - angry and passionate outbreaks, ill-will, evil speaking, foul-mouthed abuse - so that these may never soil your lips. Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its doings… ” (verses 5-9 – Weymouth). All these vices we are to put off. We are to put off, to reckon as dead (verse 5) all those things which pertain to the old life (verse 9).
- We must PUT ON certain things. “And you have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being remoulded into full knowledge so as to become like Him who created it. In that new creation there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision, nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free man, but Christ is all and in all… Clothe yourselves therefore, as saints holy and dearly loved, with tender-heartedness, kindness, lowliness of mind, meekness and long-suffering; bearing with one another, and readily forgiving each other, if any one has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, you also must forgive. And over all these put on love, which is the perfect bond of union ” (verses 10-14 – Weymouth). Like the Prodigal, we came back to the Father in rags and tatters, but we do not stay like that - we “put on” – look up Luke 15:22-24.
- We must LET IN certain things (verses 15 and 16)
- “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… ” We have peace with God (Romans 5:1), so now we must let the peace of God fill and flood our being (Philippians 4:7). This means a state of perfect harmony within, even though there is discord and distraction without - look up Isaiah 26:3. How we need this peace, this freedom from fear and anxiety, this inner poise and power! We may have it – how?
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you …” If our minds are filled with His Word, our hearts will be filled with His peace! See Psalm 119:165 and compare Colossians 3:16 with Ephesians 3:16 and 17.
- We must LET OUT certain things. The word “do” occurs three times in verses 17 and 23:-
- Everything we do is to be done as service for the Lord. Note “whatever” in verse 23. This refers to preaching, praying, playing, working, our secular job, etc.
- We are to serve thankfully- not groaning, grousing and complaining; but - look up Philippians 4:6.
- We are to serve heartily. How can we serve in any other way when we serve such a glorious Master?
- We must LOOK UP all the time (verse 24). Here is the secret of the first four! Our faith is in and our eyes are upon “the Lord” - to whom one day every one of us must give account - look up 2 Corinthians 5:10.