Year 3 Day 91
Read - Colossians 3
Message - Scott Woodburn
When a sinner receives Christ by faith a radical transformation occurs. That individual is no longer dead in sin but alive in Christ. The repentant sinner has their name written in the Lamb's book of life. The chains of sin which once bound them are broken and they are declared righteous by God Himself. Unfortunately false teachers in Colossae had forgotten this wonderful news and instead were teaching that the true faith was one centred around earthly man-made rules.
Paul wanted to remind the Colossians that these seemingly wise rules could do nothing for their problem with sin. A faith that said "don't handle, don't taste or don't touch" could do nothing to change an individual's sinful heart. Only Jesus can transform us and give us hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone. Therefore Paul told the Colossians about their union with Christ. By grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone they had been saved and were already spiritually raised with Jesus (v1).
In response to this Gospel truth the Colossians were to take their eyes of the earthly nonsense of the false teachers and instead set their eyes on heavenly realities (v1-2). Jesus is in heaven, seated at the Father's right hand (v1b) and Christ should always capture the attention of the Christian. Why? Because of the extraordinary transformation that Christ has worked in us. In Christ we have died to sin and been made alive through the Gospel (v3). Currently we enjoy a union with Christ that is "hidden" (v3) but when Jesus returns the reality of our union with Him will become absolutely clear (v4). Currently we know Jesus by faith but one day we will know Him by sight.
This is such wonderful news that it should have a dramatic Spirit-worked impact on the Christian. As the work of sanctification takes place the believer is to put to death old earthly attributes (v5). Paul mentions all sorts of sinful practice - sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. None of this has any place in a Christian's life. God's anger burns against these sins (v6) and everyone of us once walked in these ways (v7). But now the Christian should shun anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk (v8). Our words to one another should always be true because the old self has gone and the new self has come (v9-10). Indeed this new self is being sanctified, it is being renewed each day and at the last day we will once again bear the image of God untainted and undefaced by sin.
Paul doesn't direct a certain type of Christian on the path of sanctification. It doesn't matter if you are from a Greek or Jewish background. It doesn't matter if you are master or slave. It doesn't matter if you are from Ballynahinch or Ballygobackwards. Christ is all, and in all and His followers are to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel (v11).
As we take off the old self we are to put on new clothes. We all like clean clothes when we realise the old ones are dirty and stained. The Christian's clothing is compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (v12). If we argue and fall out then we are to be quick to forgive (v13). The Lord has forgiven us more than we can imagine and therefore we are to forgive one another. We are to be loving in all our words and deeds and this love binds everything else together in perfect harmony (v14).
Gazing above to where Jesus is causes great peace to rest and rule in our hearts. This peace overflows into our fellowships where we are to live in peace for there is only one body (v15). Thankfulness is to abound in the Christian life (v16) and we are to be saturated by the living Word of Jesus (v16). As we ourselves are taught the Word so too we teach others and on occasion we may have to warn our brothers and sisters. But when the warning is done we sing Psalms together, we sing the great hymns of the Christian faith and we sing spiritual songs. We are to be a thankful people doing everything in the name of Christ and giving thanks to God (v17).
The false teachers couldn't have been more wrong with their focus on endless rules and regulations that could not save and could give no assurance. The Christian faith on the other hand is not a dead empty letter but a living breathing faith in a living breathing Saviour. We are united to Christ by faith and He sends the mighty Spirit into our lives to transform. If today we find our eyes focused on the muck and the mire of modern living then may we heed the Apostolic call - "seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."
Q86 What is faith in Jesus Christ? Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.