I love the book of Colossians. We are continuing our study on chapter three of this amazing book which sheds light on much of what Paul writes in his other letters to other churches. I find it interesting that he oftentimes repeats himself in his letters. Perhaps the reason is because they never listened the first or second time Paul said something. Perhaps they needed to hear it several times over in order to ingrain the commands of the Lord through Paul into their minds.
I remember going to a church a while back and I hear a message on a specific passage. When I went to a Bible study later that week, I heard the same passage taught. About two weeks later, the same passage was preached. When I got into the car with the other people I was with, I shared with them this insight. Their response was pretty clear: Maybe God is trying to tell you something. Maybe He has allowed you to hear this passage over and over again to get a point across to you. Maybe you need to listen more and ask God what it is He wants you to see in it. I believe that is good advice. Some of these things we will be looking at in the book of Colossians, we have heard over and over again. Perhaps we need to take the advice from my friend and ask God what we need to receive from this passage. Apparently God has no problem with us hearing it again. With that, let us dig into the Word of God and hear what Paul has to say to this new Church he had never met.
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 and 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 (Col. 3: 1-4).
I guess sometimes, we set our minds on things that are ‘earthly’ in nature and not on things that are ‘heavenly’ eternal. I believe this goes back to our Romans 12 passage quite well. How do we set our minds on things that are ‘heaven bound?’ We must have our minds transformed by Christ. It is only through Christ that we have a hope to look to heaven in the first place. As I read the last part of these selected passages, my thoughts stop at, “When Christ who is your life…” I have to stop and read that over and over again. Do I believe that Christ is my life? Do I believe that without Him, I am a dead man? I often wonder if we as the body of Christ really consider Christ as our life. If I truly believe that Christ is my life, should I not be living differently than I am living? Should I not consider Him more valuable than I allow Him to be through me? I do not mean to beat a dead horse about this, but if we are not living in a manner in that Christ is our life, I believe that we are missing an incredible part of who Christ is and what Christ has done for us through His life, death, and resurrection. He is sitting at the right hand of God the Father, for you and I. In Him, we have life and death is defeated. We need to catch a vision and love for a God who cares enough for His creation to be its source of life. I just have to throw that out there. Take some time and think about that each night before you go to bed for a week. I am positive it will change you significantly.
Paul continues writing, “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” (Col. 3: 5-6).
It is interesting that in the book of Galatians, Paul writes that they know what the acts of the flesh are. He names several of the same acts of the flesh both here and in Galatians. Paul changes his tune though and writes, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” I believe we do not put to death the things we are called to put to death in the manner Paul is writing about. Paul is really saying, in other words, “Murder the flesh, kill it, and destroy it.” That might seem like harsh language to use but Paul is making a point: If we do not put to death the work of the flesh in us, it will seek to destroy us (our testimony, our relationships, our ministry, and ultimately our love for God and others). We cannot sweep the works of the flesh under a carpet, hoping that no one will notice it. We must destroy it completely. This is ridiculously important, since we are no longer dead but alive in Christ.
By the way, what is the deal with ‘the wrath of God?’ I thought God is only love? God is love but God also hates the work of the flesh. This work destroys His creation and His people. If someone burned down something that you built with your own hands, would you be upset? Now consider God, the Creator of the Universe and all that is in it. He makes this beautiful thing (the world and people and all the other stuff) and sin creeps in and begins to destroy His work. How mad do you think He might get about that? I would consider it fair to say that it would piss Him off. I for one would not want to piss of Christ. So, destroying the work of the flesh is the lest I can do to the best of my ability in order to keep the wrath of God turned away from me. It is only by grace that it is possible though. Jesus paid the debt. Praise the Lord for that!
Instead of allowing the flesh to live, we must put on (an active, intentional, act) things of the Spirit. We already are wearing the flesh. It is apart of who we are as sinful people. We must make the effort; we must make a choice to put on the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit so that we can live through Christ. This is the call of those who are chosen of God.
Paul finishes this section of his letter by writing,
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, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3: 15-17)
There is really not much that needs to be said about these verses because it truly speaks for itself. I will just give two quick thoughts to consider and move on. (1) I do not believe we are thankful enough for all Christ has done for us. We take for granted the mercy, love and grace of God way too often. Our attitudes and hearts must emulate our thankfulness and gratitude to Christ for all He has done in us and through us because of who He is. (2) The word thankful is used here 3 times in different forms. I have to say that this is pretty important to Paul (please review point 1).
Paul finishes this part of his writing by giving some instructions on how a husband and a wife should act towards one another and how children and slaves should also act and work. We must continue to remember whatever we do, we are doing it to the Lord. When I am asked to cut the grass for my father, my response and attitude should be honoring and submissive to his request. This brings honor to him as my father but ultimately gives honor to God as my heavenly father who has called me to obey my parents. No half-hearted jobs either. We must give 100 percent, with joy and thankfulness in all that we do. This is honoring to the Lord and also to others. This is how we can love both God and others and fulfilling the Jesus Creed. Thanks for trekking along with me through this. We will pick up the last chapter of Colossians in the near future. Till then, God bless.