Colossians 3

Set Your Mind On Things That Are Above

The Christian is alive in Christ and has not only been freed from the penalty of sin, but they have also been freed from its power. The Colossians are exhorted to seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Sin is vanquished when Christ is seen as most glorious and beautiful. Sin is mortified when our love for Christ flourishes. The Christian lives for Christ and not the things of the world. The believer is alive in Christ, and their life is hidden with Christ in God. The Father looks on his children with favor because when he sees them he sees the righteousness of the Son and he is glorified. The old way of life has passed away, and the child of wrath is a child of God at work in the process of sanctification. The child of God is not under condemnation, and when Christ comes in glory, the believer will share in Christ's victory. Those who belong to Christ will be raised triumphantly. In light of his grace and mercy, the Christian must seek to put to death what is earthly. Immoral sexual behavior outside the context of marriage, moral impurity, self-serving lusts, evil desires, and covetousness which is idolatry must be put to death because the Christian is either killing sin or sin is killing them. God hates these sins, and he will act in wrath toward them because his holiness is offended and he will be vindicated. The first list of vices may be avoided, but as Paul moves into the next part of the list, the motivations of the heart are exposed, and the struggle with the flesh is made clear. The believer walked in these things before Christ saved them, but now they must put them away. The five things Paul lists point to the issues of the heart that make their way out in one's speech. Anger that rises and then pours forth in wrath. The malice that grows toward neighbor and breaks for in slander or obscene talk, it is sinful and not fitting for a Christian. The tongue that is tempted to lie out of fear or manipulation must be controlled because the old self has been put off along with all its practices. The child of God is growing in grace and godliness, and the fruit of righteousness is shown through obedience as they confer to the image of Christ. The new self has been put on as the believer is renewed in knowledge. The image of the creator is being restored. The process of sanctification is the daily work of conforming to the image of Christ and reflecting his glory. The kingdom of God is diverse, and Christ redeems people from every tribe, every language, and every station in life. Racial barriers fall, religious barriers fall, cultural barriers fall, and social barriers fall for Christ is all in all. God's chosen people are loved and set apart which will be evident by the way they adorn themselves. The spiritual wardrobe of the Christian contains compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. They are not selfish and driven by pride and selfish ambition, they gladly submit to one another in love, forgiving each other and bearing with one another. The community of faith is the visible evidence of the power of God, and the way they live is an apologetic for Christ's gospel. When irritated or offended, Christians die to themselves. Finally, Paul exhorts the people of God to put on love, the self-sacrificing, self-giving love of God. This is obedience to the new command of Jesus. Christians are commanded to love one another as Christ loves them. Love is superior to all other pieces the Christian wears, for nothing else so clearly identifies them with Jesus. The love of God binds the people of God together in harmony and maintains peace. As Christ rules the heart of the believer, gratitude, and thankfulness grow. The Christian is to make their home in the word of Christ. This echoes the words of Jesus in John's gospel. God's word is so important as we live in it and it lives in us. Love makes the heart sing and the church gathered serves one another rooted in love and the word of Christ. The Christian cannot compartmentalize their lives because the gospel has implications for everything they do, and it must be done in light of the Lord Jesus with a grateful heart. 

As For The Lord

The Lordship of Jesus Christ transforms our relationship with him and with each other. The Christian life is to be lived at home, at school, and the workplace. Paul approaches the subject of discipleship and dependence by looking at three partnerships: wives and husbands; children and fathers; and slaves and masters. These verses show a picture of marriage that reveals the Christian view of the union of one man and one woman in covenant relationship. The Christian’s view shows the order of life’s priorities, which should be first to God, then to one’s spouse, next to one’s children in the parent and child relationship, and finally to one’s employer. God’s order is for human flourishing and is designed for our benefit and protection. The Bible teaches headship which points to one's role and not to one's value. It seems that people get bent out of shape over this concept and see it as archaic and in need of change. However, in other areas of life, there seems to be no conflict with roles and order such as the workplace, the school, or a team. Identity and roles are given for our good. The way we are to live together in marriage is mutual love, respect, and submission. The Christian life is one of submission. Jesus submitted to the Father, but he is coequal and co-eternal with him. There is no concept of inferiority, this about the role one has been given by their creator. Husbands are to love their wives and put her interests first. The marriage relationship is a living parable of the gospel and husbands and wives have a unique relationship that should not be shared with anyone else. Husbands are not to be cold, rude, or harsh with their wives. Instead, there is to be grace, love, and mutual submission. The family picture continues as Paul moves to the relationship between parents and children. Children are to obey their parents because this pleases the Lord. Children must be instructed in what is right and what is wrong as taught in the Scriptures. Children need to be taught the things of God and instructed wisely. Parents are responsible for their spiritual formation. Disobedience is a mark of sinfulness. Fathers should build a loving and trusting relationship with their children. In this way, an earthly father can offer a picture although inadequate of how magnificent it is to be a child of God. Fathers must not be too severe with their children, and they must speak words of grace over them regularly. Father's must seize every opportunity to teach their children about grace and forgiveness. The Scriptures do not approve of slavery. He did not create a slave or hint at slavery as an acceptable practice. Slavery is descriptive, not prescriptive. In Old Testament times, slaves were not so oppressed and did have the right to own property and conduct business. Hebrew slaves were treated under a somewhat complicated set of biblical rules, one of which commanded that they be kept in bondage for a maximum of six years only, in order to pay off the debts they owed. Christians are to work not only out of duty, with self-preservation and self-interest in view; rather they are to work with sincerity. The motivation for such work was a Holy and reverential fear of God. This is not repressive; rather it takes into account that God is almighty and that men are answerable to him at the day of judgment for all that they have done. Work was to be done as unto Christ himself. Slaves were not rewarded as a rule, but Paul reminds the believers that there are rewards to come for the good and faithful servants of Christ. Ultimately, we do not work for our employer but for the Lord Jesus Christ. Understanding this principle will help produce a better and healthier attitude to work and allow us to do the unpleasant tasks with patience. There are rewards promised and waiting for believers in heaven after a lifetime of faithful service. Serve the Lord with gladness. 

Things To Consider:

  • How can we seek the things that are above?
  • How do you set your mind on Christ when things are difficult?
  • How should the life to come affect our service?
  • How does one put sin to death?
  • Who do you confess your sins to for accountability sake?
  • How can we work on the heart?
  • How does the gospel change all our relationships?
  • When you put on clothes, do they just jump on your body? Then how can you put on the things of God?
  • Why must everything be tested by scripture?
  • How does the word dwell in us richly?
  • How can we help others see the gospel pictures of mutual love and submission in marriages?
  • How do the roles of men and women within marriage give us a picture of the gospel?
  • How should a Christian approach every task?
  • Why should Christians be missed when they change jobs?
  • How can we look for rewards and find joy without being greedy?