Monday, November 4, 2013

Colossians 3:1-11

 Colossians 3:1–11
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 

Vs. 1-2 1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

In these verses the Apostle Paul expounds the theology behind  a believers co-death and resurrection and new life with Jesus Christ. An exposition that the Apostle Paul began in chapter two. And so he reiterates it here as an encouragement and motivation for us all who believe in Jesus Christ to pursue those things of eternal value rather than the temporal.

Now lets look at a couple of words.
Raised: Being raised with Christ means that not only did we first die with Him to sin (Rom 6:1-14), and the Law (Rom 7:1-4), (and thus every form of legalistic bondage born out of the doctrine and commandments of men) but also we have been raised with Him to everlasting life, so that we can walk in new life with Him (2 Cor 5:7), having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:4). Thus our being raised with Christ is the victory that Jesus Christ has given us all who believe in Him over "the world". It's values, it's pursuits, it's lusts, it's "god", its end (consider 1 John 2:15-17). Therefore since we have been raised with Christ; and one day will put on an immortal body and be with Him, and bear the glorious image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ forever (1 Cor 15:42-58; 2 Cor 5:1-2) let us all who believe in Jesus Christ seek those things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.

Seek: In light of our new standing with God through Christ, the Apostle Paul now urges us to seek those things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. For in this life there is heavens priorities, than there is mans. Jesus addressed this in His Sermon on the Mount where He emphasized that rather than worrying about food and clothing we are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, than all that we need in this life will be added to us (see Matt 6:31-33 also see Matt 7:7). Thus our pursuit of the eternal (and God's purposes for our lives) must overtake our desires for "security" or "significance" in the temporal. Just like in Jesus' parable of the merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he found one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it (see Matt 13:44-46). So here seek implies a concerted effort and willingness on our part too our lives in the pursuit of the eternal (consider Mark 8:34-38).
As well the Apostle Paul in Rom 2:7 exhorts us all to seek (same word) for glory, honor and immortality through the patient forbearance of doing good; which is what every Christian is called to do, do good and seek the good of all (consider Gal 6:10; 1 Tim 6:18; Heb 13:16; James 4:17; 1 Peter 3:10-12 etc.). And thus we are too seek after those things that are first and foremost in the heart and mind of God, for ourselves and others (1 Thess. 5:15). Rather than running the course of this world, where people live their lives merely for their own gain, and or their fleshly lusts and pleasures. Therefore rather than living a life that ascends no higher than this life's pursuits and this worlds values. Let us all who have been given new and everlasting life with Christ live in the fullness of freedom of life that God has given us all In Christ. And seek those things that are above, where Christ is, where our sojourn and journey through this life will end (consider Hebrews 11:13-16) with a highly exuberant jubilation when we meet our Great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who will reward and repay every faithful service and sacrifice done for Him and His Kingdom. For the world and the lusts of it are passing away, but he who does the will of God abides forever (see 1 John 2:15-17).

Set: "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." The word set here means to be fixed upon, to continually think about, almost in an obsessive like manner, rather than obsessing over the temporal things of this life. Now the literal antithesis of this verse is found in Phil 3:19 where the Apostle Paul uses the same word to describe the enemies of the cross as those who set their minds on "earthly things". Similarly in Romans 8:5 the Apostle Paul draws a demarcation line between those who live according to the flesh, who set their minds on the things of flesh, and those who live according to the Spirit, who set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Thus on one hand you have the unregenerate person who lives according to the flesh; it's lusts, it's desires, it's impulses. And so everyone and everything is understood or judged by them through it (see Rom 8:5-8). While on the other you have the Spirit led and filled believer who though not yet perfected (Phil 3:12-14) is steadily and progressively putting away the old sin nature, and is growing in both their faith and understanding of God, but also in Christ like Character.

Vs. 3-4 In verses 1-2 we were exhorted to seek those things that are above, too set our minds on them, that is not only seek the Kingdom of heaven and it's priorities, but have Christ's Kingdom dictate our lives values, purposes and pursuits. And so here in verses 3-4 (which are apart of the Apostle Paul's exhortation in vs. 1-2) we are given the reason why we should do just that. "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

First is that we died, that is our old nature, and with it our old ways of living. Now whether this was wild partying or selfish living, or just plain living arrogantly and or indifferently to our own sin or all the genuine needs all around us (in fact all around the world). When we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, God fundamentally changed us. By bringing us to Spirit life and uniting us with Jesus Christ. And so we have not only been crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20) by which we died to all things we once were, but as the Apostle Paul is emphasizing here we have been raised with Christ to new and everlasting life by the Holy Spirit. And thus we have both the mind of Christ, by which we can discern and understand God's will through His unchanging truths in His Word for us (1 Cor 2:10-16). But we also have Jesus Christ's Person and life within us, by which we can now live those truths out via the fruits of the Holy Spirit (see Gal 5:22-23). And so unlike those who have not yet come to repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus who are searching for meaning or significance or purpose in the fleeting things of this life. When we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ we found God's purpose for our lives, which is to know God through His Son Jesus Christ and experience His life within us, in every aspect of our lives. For only then do have and experience life in all it's fullness (John 10:10). For Jesus doesn't just offer sinners (redemption from their sins) He gives every repentant and believing sinner soul satisfying food and drink (John 4:14; 6:35).

Second is that our life is hidden with Christ in God. Having died with Christ our life is now with  hidden with Christ in God, here the implication being eschatological; that is our life is hidden (i.e. secured) with Christ both now (Psalm 27:5) and for the last day (consider Rev 2:17). For each and every believer has an eternal destiny, and that destiny is an eternity with Christ and each other in heaven. And so as the Apostle Paul says here in verse four: "When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." Therefore since Christ is our life (in every aspect of life) we ought too so much more live and enjoy and serve the Lord Jesus Christ here and now in this life, knowing our end is too experience so much more of Him and His glory with all of His People then! That is the Christians hope, and purpose, and focus, both here and now, and forever. Living this life united with Christ in great anticipation of spending eternity with God in Glory, forever. For our lives here and now are inseparately wrapped up in Jesus Christ's, therefore want to be about seeking, pursuing and doing all that points everyone to God's everlasting salvation and glory, and away from everlasting shame, contempt and ruin (consider Daniel 12:2-3; Rom 6:22-23; Galatians 6:8; Rev 22:12-17). 

Vs. 5-7 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

In light of our new standing and position with God through faith in Jesus Christ, that we have died with Jesus Christ (and thus we have died to sin) and we have been raised with Him to new and everlasting life. We are to live our new life and liberty out in moral and spiritual purity. Therefore the Apostle Paul commands us in verse five to put to death our members which are on the earth: "fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Five works of the flesh (see Gal 5:19-21) with the first being fornication (which in the original language includes all forms of sexual immorality). Thus all believers everywhere are called to strive for something higher than sexual immorality and or the degenerate sexual acts of the body (1 Peter 4:3). Now sex has a place in God's designs for humanity, but unbelieving humanity always strips away God's parameters for it, and thus turns the body into an instrument for physical and spiritual defilement through it's unlawful practice. And so the Bible warns all believers to flee from it, warning us all that it is the corruption that is in the world through lust, which corrupts not only the individual (Gal 6:8), but it also defiles and corrupts the whole world (2 Peter 1:4 also see 1 Thess. 4:3).
Next listed is uncleanness, related to fornication, uncleanness carries with it both a physical defilement aspect, often through sexual degrading acts (Rom 1:24), but also spiritual defilement through unclean spirits (see 2 Cor 6:14-7:1, also consider Rev 18:2-4). Now since Paul has framed this word within two words that regard immoral behavior it likely means here he is stressing the degenerate sexual acts of the flesh by which people become morally as well as spiritually defiled.  Therefore as the People of God we are not to live according to the lusts of our flesh (Eph. 5:3; 1 Thess 4:7), rather we are to reckon ourselves having died with Christ to sin, and so we are to put those sins of the flesh away. The next one Paul lists is passion. Not "passion" as a generalized term (for there are many things that are good and noble and worthy to be passionate for, including ones spouse and passionate sexual relations with them, consider Prov. 5:18-20), rather here the word clearly denotes erotic passion or lust. Now whether this is aroused through pornography or some other means, this kind of passion (which also includes homosexuality, see Rom 1:26-27) is of the degenerate kind. And in Romans 1:26-27 is clearly stated as an act of God's judgment on those who reject Him and knowledge of His Person, by His giving them over to it. Therefore as the people of God we are not to live by such passions. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God." 1 Thess 4:3-5 
The finial sin Paul mentions is covetousness. To covet is basically to strongly desire something that is not ones own. Obviously this encompasses material possessions, but can also include positions of power, prestige, even another's wife or property as the Ten Commandments makes clear (see Ex. 20:17). Now because covetousness is the self assertion of ones own greed or unlawful desire irrespective of God's Law or another's well being, covetousness places one fundamentally at odds with God and His Word, and is at the heart of some of mankind's most heinous sins and unjust practices (consider Isaiah 56:11; Jer. 6:10-15, vs. 13; 8:8-12, vs. 10; 22:15-17; Ezekiel 34:2-10; Micah 2:1-2; 3:5, 11; 1 Tim 6:10; James 4:2-3; 2 Peter 2:3, 12-17 etc.). And so in the Bible there seems no end to the examples of the horrendous fallout from covetousness, and or the cunningness of man exemplified through it, as people try to satisfy their evil covetous desires. In regards to this consider Korah and his company's coveting Aaron's priestly position and thus their rebellion against Moses (Num. 16). Achan's coveting of the accursed things which brought judgment not only on himself but also all of Israel (see Joshua 7:1-26). King Ahab's murder of Naboth for his field (1 Kings 21:1-16). King David's coveting Bathsheba, Uriah's wife and the resulting adulterous affair, and murder in an attempt to cover it up (2 Sam 11:1-12:25). Judas Iscariots betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:14-15). Or the embodiment of this sin in Satan himself who at some point in history became filled with violence within through his obsession over acquiring more and more wealth, which I suspect led to his even coveting God's Position and Throne before leading a rebellion against God, which brought about his being cast out of his position in heaven forever (see Isaiah 14:12-21; Ezek. 28:11-19). Therefore in both the Law and the Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ clearly warns about and teaches against covetousness (consider Matt 6:19-24; Luke 12:13-21). As does the Apostle Paul (see 1 Cor 5:9-13; Eph. 5:3-7) calling it idolatry. Now it is because of these sins that the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience (vs. 6). Therefore just like when God warned the Israelites when He brought them out of Egypt, not to defile themselves with any idols or follow any of the worship, or the immoral, or the degenerate practices of the people of Canaan (see Lev 18:1-30, vs. 24-25, 30; Ezekiel 20, vs. 7, 18, 31), so too we as the people of God who have also been brought out of the bondage of our past lives (vs. 7) and or our previous enslavement to this world (and the "god" of it) are no longer to live according too the immoral and covetous and idolatrous works of it, through which they justify everything that God says in His Holy Word is utterly unjustifiable.

Vs. 8-11 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 

Having addressed sexual immoral lust and covetousness (which is idolatry) the Apostle Paul now commands that all believers put of anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language and lying from themselves (vs. 8-9). Six things that are not becoming of us as God's redeemed children. Now the first three Paul mentions (anger, wrath and malice) all share a common bond, if not linguistically, then certainly as a work of the flesh or old sin nature. Now the first Paul mentions is anger (orge) which when used as a negative attribute may be understood as "a chronic attitude of smoldering hatred" Bible Knowledge Commentary or "a strong spirit of dislike or animosity, a vengeful spirit, a settled feeling of hatred." Believers Bible Commentary Thus when used of an individual believer, it is an anger that is not only harbored, but it is an anger that seeks opportunity for it's own vengeance or punishment. And thus is contrary too both the Law and the Gospel of God (consider Lev. 19:18; Rom 12:19). Therefore harboring such anger is not only unjustifiable it is the antithesis of practicing forgiveness and reconciliation as Jesus commands of us, especially amongst ourselves (consider Matt 18:15-35). Therefore do not be deceived into thinking that the Apostle Paul's exhortation in Ephesians 4:26 is commanding believers to walk around in a spirit of anger and hostility towards those who sin against them or anyone else. For there the exhortation has clear boundaries about dealing with personal offenses by either confronting the offender (if that is possible, and or a wise thing to do) and or seeking to deal with the root causes of ones anger, before the devil gets a foothold in ones life through it. Now where justice and or judgment is required, and it is beyond the scope of our jurisdiction, we must allow for God's Sovereign intervention and judgment as we are commanded in Rom 12:19-21, where God Himself will execute His justice or judgment if necessary (consider 1 Thess. 4:6; Heb 10:30-31 etc.), or He will have His own verdict executed through lawful authority which He Himself has established for that very purpose (see Rom 13:4). And so in regards to the personal restraint of ones own anger (as we are being commanded here) consider David's words and actions as he twice refuses to execute his own "justice" or judgment on then King Saul who in an ongoing maddened and unjust rage was intent on destroying David simply because he wanted to preserve his own families tenure as being the people whom the Kings of Israel would come (see 1 Samuel 15:10-29; 20:30-33; 24:1-22; 26:1-25, vs. 9-11). Now in regards to this kind of anger, where it is exemplified by an unwillingness to forgive and thus see a sinner reconciled back to God, consider it's verbs use in Luke 15:28 where it is used by Jesus of the older brothers angry disposition and refusal to come into the house and celebrate at his prodigal brother returning home and being restored by the Father. And so there we have a clear Biblical example of mans (or women's) unjustifiable and unforgiving anger that does not allow for God's mercy and reconciliation of His own repentant children. And thus that is a type of anger that we as God's reconciled children, by His grace, are not to exemplify towards anyone who likewise repents and believes.

While wrath (thymos) in the N.T. is the preferred word for sudden rage (TDNTA) that finds immediate expression through words or deeds. Because both are representative of the old sinful nature, or a self centered disposition, neither are conducive to a believers new Holy Spirit disposition and position In Christ (consider James 1:19-20). Therefore all believers are not only commanded to put such wrath or anger away, but we are also warned about harboring it, because to do so gives the devil a clear foothold in ones life (Eph. 4:26-27). And thus one becomes suspect to all sorts of malicious intentions and or bad decision making (consider Matt 5:22, as well as 1 John 2:9-11 which though not related linguistically to the words studied here, the word rendered hate there, carries within it a lot of insight into what is being studied here). The finial word of first three is malice (kakia). The Believers Bible Commentary describes it as "wicked conduct toward another with the idea of harming his person or reputation. It is an unreasonable dislike that takes pleasure in seeing others suffer." And so it is often the "modis operandi" of this unregenerate world (Rom 1:29) and of many a person before coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ through the grace of God (Titus 3:3).
Now the first three sins that we are commanded to put away (anger, wrath, malice) largely have to do with ones disposition, attitude, or heart. While the last three (blasphemy, filthy language, lying) though coming from the same, have to do with ones mouth. Now the first mentioned is blasphemy which according to the TDNTA in ancient Greek literature means: a. "abusive speech", b. "personal mockery". Whether this is directed towards God (as often is found in the N.T., see Rev. 13:6), or another person, blasphemy is a serious matter since through it mankind reviles either their Creator or defames their fellow person, who like themselves is also created in His Image. Blasphemy then is something that should not be heard or found amongst believers because we are to speak evil of no one (  also consider 1 Tim. 1:20 where the blasphemy there seems to be against this worlds rulers and authorities and such). Blasphemy also takes on another nuance in the N.T. and that is of believers bringing reproach or blasphemy to God's Name through ungodly conduct, which can take on many forms (Rom 2:4). Therefore as believers we have to be careful of not only how we speak of others (Psalm 141:3; Pr. 13:3; 21:3), but how we live. Finally there is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit which as Jesus said cannot be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Matt 12:32), because it is a strong denunciation of God's Holy Spirit power at work through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Or as the TDNTA describes it as: "the wilful and wicked rejection of God's saving power and grace" through the work of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (italics mine). Therefore too blasphemy the Holy Spirit by attributing God's Son Jesus Christ and His works by the Holy Spirit (to the devil), will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
The other sin of the mouth is filthy language. Louw-Nida gives this as a definition: "obscene, shameful speech involving culturally disapproved themes—‘vulgar speech, obscene speech, dirty talk." Obviously this would encompass racists slurs, sexist or sexually explicit remarks, or any language that is clearly a degradation of another person because of their gender, culture, heritage, religion or background. For we as believers are not to use our mouths as instruments of unrighteousness, rather like our whole bodies, we are too use them as instruments for truth, righteousness, mercy and peace on earth. And thus for blessing others, and being a blessing to others. And so in verse nine and ten we are commanded not to lie to one another. For truly no other sin of the mouth undermines trust (and thus sincere and deep and lasting relationships) as much as lying. For in a world were self serving deception and outright lies are often spoken to forward ones own end; or to preserve ones own neck; in stark contrast to that we are to be people whose word and person can be trusted. And so let us all be people who are honest and fair, gracious and kind, neither lying, nor flattering, nor manipulating people or circumstances to bend them in our favor. Rather be people of grace and truth who speak the truth in love. For that is what God In Christ is, ultimately honest and trustworthy. For having put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (vs. 11) we are to put away lying from our lips and deception from our lives. For only then do relationships In Christ grow strong bonds in love: "where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all." vs. 12  For that is how Jesus sees us, and wants us to see each other, and treat each other as God's people who are all in Christ, for Christ is equally in us all who believe in Him. And thus without cultural, genealogical, or societal distinctions by which some might seek to distinguish or separate themselves from other believers. Which means for us all who believe in Jesus there is neither Gentile nor Jew, North American or European, Asian or African, Native American or African American, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, but Christ is all and in all. Of course this unanimity applies too the man-made (not God ordained) denominational Christianity that has for centuries segmented the Christian faith into its various theological camps and cultural distinctions or origins, by which each seemingly tries to distinguish itself, almost as unique unto itself. Nonetheless those distinctions do not exist in the Body of Christ and thus they should not exist in the visible church. For we know that the Lord Jesus Christ does not show partiality, nor does he make cultural, societal, denominational, or class distinctions with any of us who believe in Him (consider Acts 10:34-35, 36-43). For when He saves anyone, in any circumstances of life who in faith calls upon Him as the Name of the Lord, confessing Him as Lord alone. He makes His dwelling within us by His Holy Spirit, who brings us to life with Himself the moment we believe in Him, (Rom 10:9-10, 13). And thus He immediately baptizes us into His Body of believers In Christ by our personal faith and trust in Him alone. Brethren then should never try to distinguish themselves as being Christians of this nation or that, or this culture or that, of this person or that, of this denomination or theological strip or that, of this social standing or that etc. For to do so is only to try to distinguish oneself as either distinct or more distinguished than ones own brethren. All which is contrary to Christ which unites us all under one banner in the eyes of God, and that is redeemed by the Blood of Christ, the Lamb of God sent into the world to suffer crucifixion death for our redemption from sin and death regardless of our nation, culture, heritage or background (John 1:29). Therefore it is extremely important for all believers everywhere to see all brethren everywhere as equal brethren with themselves and equally beloved of the Lord, and thus of us all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who also want to obey Him as Lord (consider Matt 23:8; Gal 3:26-29). 

I don't know where you are at today. If you are a seeker or a believer? If you have come to the place of surrender, of opening your heart, mind and life to receive Jesus Christ's Word and Life within you please do so today. For He is not only Almighty God, He is Supremely trustworthy. And by a simple prayer of faith He will not only save you, He will make you new and begin to make all things new in you, as He lives and works through you. Therefore simply prayer something like this: Dear Lord Jesus I believe You were crucified for my sins remission so that I can have by God's grace what I could never earn, deserve or achieve, and that is new and everlasting life with God and You. For I believe You suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for my transgressions and provide the atonement that God requires for my sin, so that You could free me from my sins as well remove the stronghold of sin and Satan and ultimately "the sting of death" from my life. So that I might live a new and righteousness life, abundant and full of heavenly purposes In You. Therefore I now invite You Lord Jesus Christ into my heart, to be My Lord and Savior both now and forever, amen.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982


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