A2 Follow-up from Solomon’s Porch 3.25.12

Part 7 in our Sunday Night Study Series in the Book of Colossians

 

Colossians 3:1-17

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

           

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

           

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

When I first became a follower of Jesus I would read this passage, close my eyes and try to picture the things that “are above”.  I reasoned with myself that, if I was going to seek the things that “are above” I needed to focus on them, which is actually right.  But when I closed my eyes all I could envision were angels, (which really were images based on medieval paintings) or some faceless image sitting on a throne, or a bunch of white robed people singing some nameless tune I didn’t know, or any number of images I had picked up from Isaiah or John’s Revelation.  Then one day like a lightening bolt I saw something in the passage that cleared up what it meant to set my mind on the things that “are above”.  All of a sudden “seeking the things that are above” became a doable task not obscure meditation.  Here is what I noticed.  Paul defined things that are earthly when he said,

 

Colossians 3:5-9

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices”

 

Earthly things were things that I knew well, for I had lived my life practicing them.  But now I was to no longer spend my life practicing earthly things, I was to live according to another a code of conduct, a heavenly one.  And the parallel passage in Colossians 3:12-17 provided that new heavenly code.  Just as I was to put the earthly things in me to death through the Cross, so also I was to accept a new way of live through the Resurrection.

 

Colossians 3:12-17

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

So then I began to understand that setting my mind on heavenly things was not to imagine obscure visions, but I was to consider what it would be like if the world was not broken and filled with sin, because that is what heaven is like, because that is what God is like.  So then I understood what Paul was driving at when he said in verse 10 that I was,.

 

Colossians 3:10-11

“being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”

 

I am being renewed and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, my creator.  I am being brought into a Kingdom where there is no rebellion, separation, ethnicity, or bigotry.  Just as we were all included under sin, so we are all (every race of men) now able to be filled with all the fullness of God.  That is the end of the Gospel, renewal and restoration in Christ.  Which brings me to my final point.

 

Colossians is a letter.  It was meant to be read in a single sitting.  We added the verses and chapters for study purposes.  It is easy to read Colossians 3, grab a hold of the do’s and don’ts, go out, grit our teeth, clinch our fists, and try to make the lists in verses 5-9 or 12-17 happen or not happen by our force of will.  We must never forget that chapter 3 comes after chapters 1 and 2.  Why is this important?  Well, listen just a second to what has already been said,

 

Colossians 1:11-14

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

Colossians 1:21-22

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,

 

Colossians 1:26-27

the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Colossians 2:6

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,

 

Colossians 2:9-10

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

 

Colossians 2:11-14

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

 

Beloved in the Lord, we are not to clinch our fists and gut it out, we are to accept reality as God says that it is, for that is true and authentic faith.  What does God say?  That Christ has made it possible to transfer us to a new Kingdom.  That Christ has made us holy and blameless, in fact we are now above reproach.  Christ is now in us, we can live in Him.  The Christ who is in us is not just some guy, but in fact He is fully and completely God.  That everything needed to secure our place has been done.  What Paul wants us to do is yield to the truth of Gospel.  Listen to some of his language,

 

Colossians 3:15

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

 

Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

 

We are to yield to the indwelling Christ.  We are to yield to the peace between us and God established by Christ Jesus.  We are to yield to His Word, accept the reality as God says that it is in Scripture.  The lists are not performance based. They are Gospel based.  You are dead in Christ, accept your death, do not yield to earthly behaviors, you don’t live there anymore.  You are alive in Christ, yield yourself to the resurrected Christ that lives in you and has so wrapped your life up in Him that Paul could write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that,

 

Colossians 3:3-4

“you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

 

You don’t live on earth anymore,  you live where He lives, ascended at the right hand of God the Father.  Following Christ is heaven touching the ground, because heaven is now living in us.  Don’t try and work your way to transformation in Christ it won’t work.  Surrender, yield to, accept, seek, set your mind……….. on the Gospel.

 

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.


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