Week 9 – Colossians 3:1-11 “If You Have Been Raised with Christ, Then…

It’s such a powerful thing to sink our teeth into the meat of God’s Word over a period of time! We’re in Week 9 now, and I don’t know about you, but I feel like I just keep desiring more and more to know God through His Word and in prayer.  This walk with Jesus is not easy, but it’s awesome; and I pray that as you open the Word today that He will speak directly to your heart and mind.  I pray you will be captivated by the Love of God through Christ Jesus as we learn what follows our decision to make Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.  If He is Lord, then there will be notable change.  Here are your notes and homework for Week 9:  Col PN 3.1-11

Paul takes all the things he’s been telling the church in Colossae  in chapters 1 & 2 and sums it up in these four verses to begin chapter 3. IF this is true, THEN that should be happening. You’ll find in the NIV and NLT the word ‘if’ is translated ‘since.’ If you are reading from those translations, SINCE this is true, THEN that should be happening. Either way, there is an expectation that follows; the consequence of our decision to follow Christ should be evident.

If you have been born again,

if you have been raised to new life with Christ,

if you are alive in Him (Col 2:6-15),

if you believe that He is the Messiah, your Savior (Col 1:15-23),

THEN here are some specific directives as to how to walk this thing out.  This, Church in Colossae (and Believer in Christ Jesus, wherever you are), is practically how to operate as a Follower of Jesus: out with the old and in with the new, and it starts with your mind. It always does.

Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek cthe 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.

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. SEEK after & SET your mind on the things that are above. (Col 3:1-2)

If Jesus is seated at God’s right hand, then our sights should be set there. What we are seeking and what we set our minds on WILL determine the way that we live. This is why Jesus Himself directed us so clearly as to what we should do!

Look at Matthew 6:33, What does Jesus commands us to do?

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Other translations say “and all these things will be provided for you.” This is where Jesus is telling us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear. Can you imagine how much freedom our minds would have without worry? If we really only trusted the Lord with our lives, if we would really just seek Him first, I believe that 99% of our stress would be gone immediately. Stress clouds the human brain, it is a physiological and neurochemical fact.

In day 4 of your homework, we will break down the contrast of having a mind set on earthly things vs. things above. (Matthew 16:23 & Philippians 3:19-20)

If our mind is set on earth, our lives will reflect it. If our mind is set on Heaven, then our lives will inevitably reflect that as well! We cannot do both.

Where the mind goes the body follows. Jesus knew that, and that is exactly why He told us what to seek and where to set our minds.  NOW, verses 3:

Colossians 3:3

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. Your life is HIDDEN with Christ in God because you died

I absolutely love the way the Amplified Bible puts this:

For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.

The most real we will ever be is when we are in Christ Jesus. He is real life, and the greatest reality is that which is in Heaven. Do you remember last week when we talked about how all these earthly things are just shadows of the true reality to come? Our new, real life is hidden with Christ in God, and when He (Who is our life) returns we will be with Him eternally. Hallelujah!

Let’s revisit for a moment the concept of our death (as far as the world is concerned) when we receive new life in Christ Jesus:

Colossians 2:20 

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world…

The entire chapter of Romans 6 is so beautifully written; I want to pull a couple of verses from there to further expound upon this idea. Please take time to read all of Romans 6 if any of this ‘life and death’ stuff is confusing to you. I want to encourage you to always go directly to the source, go straight to your Bible and make sure that all of these things I (or anyone else whom you listen to or do bible study with) am saying line up with the truth of God’s Word. We must be diligent to get His Word into our own minds and hearts. Do not be content with just listening to other people talk about it! Now…onto Romans 6…

Romans 6:2

By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Romans 6:10-11

When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

When we decide to follow Jesus, we are:

  • dead to sin
  • dead to our old ways of living
  • dead to the elemental spirits of the world, the things of the world

And, we automatically become:

  • alive in Christ Jesus
  • alive to live a new life
  • secured, we are concealed (hidden)

In day 2 of our homework this week, we will discuss the security we have in Christ, the Rock of our salvation. We are tucked away and secured in Christ Jesus.

Our old life is no longer accessible, it’s hidden in Jesus, then Jesus becomes our life! Salvation is a MASSIVE UPGRADE OF THE HIGHEST ORDER. We trade in what is old, useless, meant for destruction; Jesus takes it away and gives us what is new, awesome, and cannot be destroyed! It’s redemption at it’s finest most holy example. He redeems us and now we are secure. What can separate us from His love?  Nothing.

Colossians 3:4

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. He is your LIFE now, and you will be with Him in glory (Col. 3:3-4)

Col 1:27 comes to mind again here:

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.

Jesus is our ONLY HOPE of Heaven. He is the way, the truth, and the Life and NO ONE comes to the Father apart from Him (John 14:6). And let’s not miss Paul telling is WHEN He appears. It is in now way an “if”…it’s WHEN. And He is coming soon!

Rev 22:12 NIV

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

With that in mind…

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. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. Put to death what is EARTHLY in you; put off the OLD self (Col. 3:5-9)

 The KJV says “Mortify” these things.

In v.5, the word for “put to death” in the Greek is “Nekroo”, and here is the definition: “to put to death, to make dead, to slay, to deprive of power, to destroy the strength of.”

You & I are instructed to deprive the power of the earthly things in us. If you struggle with always wanting more and never being satisfied with how your house is decorated, then throw away all the Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn magazines! Deprive the power of it! Destroy the strength of covetousness and idolatry and materialism!  (That example happens to be fresh on my mind because I just tossed 5 lbs of brand new beautiful magazines I got in the mail last Wednesday).  Why did I throw them away without even look at the cover?  I’m starving the fleshly dissatisfaction I would feed by looking at them; I have fed it before and I am choosing to starve it now.  I wonder what sins you might be feeding in your own life?  We will discuss this in detail on Day 3 of our homework.

Let’s take an honest look at each of these sins Paul lists. Fight the temptation to skim that list and assume all is well in your heart. Each of these definitions are from Strong’s Greek Dictionary.

OLD SELF:                                               

Sexual immorality (porneia):

Illicit sexual acts outside of marriage; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, sex with animals, sex with close relatives, sex with a divorced man or woman; the root word of porneia means to prostitute one’s body to the lust of another

Impurity:

impure motives toward anything; but also the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate (extravagant) living

Passion:

depraved passion, vile passions; an affliction of the mind, emotion or passion

You & I are created to be passionate. Our sin nature makes us burn with passion for vile/deprave things, but our NEW self has nothing to do with evil passion…it can ALL be poured into Jesus Christ. Have you ever met a passionate Christian? Oh God, that our passion for You would be so magnified over ANY other passion we have!  Passion misdirected leads to entanglements and slavery to any number of things; the ONLY perfectly, abundantly SAFE place to put our passion is in Christ. He was passionate about us, we return His passionate love by dying to these old ways of living and become new.

Evil desires:

desire for what is forbidden, desiring what is troublesome, injurious, destructive; craving or longing for things that ought not to be, thinking acting or feeling what is wicked or wrong

Covetousness (idolatry):

“greed” which are both idolatry, desire to have more

For those things, according to Colossians 3:6-7, the wrath of God is coming on those who disobey, or the “children of disobedience.” And Paul says, “Yes, you! You lived that way for some time, but now slay it!”  And v. 8 we are to put off the following things. “Put off” is translated from the Greek word meaning, “to put aside, to put away.”

Anger:

Temper, agitation of the soul, impulse, any violent emotion, inflicting punishments

Wrath:

Anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again

Malice:

Ill-will, desire to injure, depravity, wickedness, not ashamed to break laws, evil, trouble

Slander:

Injurious speech to another’s good name, blasphemy

Obscene talk from your mouth:

Foul speaking

Lying:      

Speaking falsehoods deliberately, to deceive one by a lie

You & I CANNOT put off the old self by ourselves; we cannot defeat these things on our own. WE NEED JESUS!!! It is by His blood and power and victory transferred to us that we are able to overcome any sin. This is why we can never be “good enough” on our own. All have sinned and fall short of His glory.

Romans 3:23-24

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, AND ALL are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus

It is finished for ALL of us, now it is our free will, our choice to receive the gift or not.

Take it or leave it, it’s right there, bought & purchased…waiting on our response.  Receive His power to overcome sin in your life.

So, we are to PUT OFF the old self…

Colossians 3:10

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

 IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. Put on the NEW self, which is BEING renewed. (Col 3:10)

The more you and I know Jesus Christ, the more we know Him through His Word, the more we know God by walking closely with Him, we are renewed in the knowledge of Him. Our New self gets to be constantly renewed by knowing Him. Isn’t that such a profound thing? We are NOT ON OUR OWN!!!  He does not just leave us to our own strength. He will reveal Himself to us continually, if we are seeking Him and setting our mind on things above where Jesus is seated at the Right hand of our Creator – you and I will be renewed!!!

I love what Paul says to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 2:2,

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

All the knowledge in the world can’t do a thing to get us closer to God except knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and raised to reign at the right hand of God.

 Colossians 3:11

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. Be DIVIDED no longer, because Christ is all in all (Col 3:11)

Basically every way that we could be divided, Paul is saying “No” it doesn’t work like that anymore. In Jesus, it’s not you over here and them over there in any context; we are – for better or worse – the family of God, the bride of Christ, and we are to be one!

Romans 10:12

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.

I have read these scriptures many times over the years, and like many things I don’t fully understand, I just skim over it. If we learn anything in Colossians, let’s learn that skimming God’s Word is not okay; we are to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. In God’s economy, details matter. So, let’s get to the details of Colossians 3:10. Read the explanation of each of these distinctives Paul gives (ref. Strong’s Greek Dictionary):

Greek vs. Jew = nationality, race, or a difference in worship

Circumcised vs. Uncircumcised = culture, denominational differences

Barbarian =  one who speaks a foreign or strange language which is not understood by another, used by the Greeks of any foreigner ignorant of the Greek language, whether mental or moral; Greeks & Romans regarded all others or foreigners as barbarians

Scythian = literally meaning “rude or rough”; an inhabitant of Scythia or modern day Russia (about 500 miles N. of Colossae along the black sea coast); Greeks saw the Scythians as the wildest of barbarians, uneducated, uncivilized, violent    

These people would be the climax of barbarian; societal outcasts if you will; people you steer clear of if you are truly civilized.

Slave vs. Free – divisions by class

The ESV Global Study Bible says:

In contrast, Paul states that Christ binds all people from all nations together in unity through His love. Racial & cultural prejudice has NO PLACE AMONG CHRISTIANS!!!

(emphasis mine obviously, the people who wrote the ESV Global Study Bible didn’t yell that, but I did, in case it was confusing). But, not at you, though!   I yell it at myself.  I’d yell it from the rooftops if I could.  I, even as a 34 year old woman, struggle with mindsets that were engrained to my brain as a child. I don’t want to be like that. I want to put off that old sinful way of thinking & put on the new. I want the mind of Christ about ALL people created in His image, especially when they look and sound different than me.

John Piper said in a sermon on Colossians 3, which I think captures the truth of 3:10 so profoundly:

Once we boasted in our culture and our intellect like the Greeks. But now CHRIST IS ALL. Once we gloried in our tradition and our religious rigor like the Jews, but now CHRIST IS ALL. Once we got our strokes because of our ethnic pedigree. But now CHRIST IS ALL. Once we reveled in not being like the barbarians and the shabby Scythians, but now CHRIST IS ALL.

Once we struggled to find our significance and our happiness and our security in what we were in relation to other people—we’re Jews, we’re Greeks, we’re circumcised, we’re free, we’re American, we’re rich, we’re smart, we’re strong, we’re pretty, we’re witty, we’re cool. But then we sloughed off that old self. We put on the new self. And the core essence of the new self is that CHRIST IS ALL. “It is no longer I who live but Christ lives” (Galatians 2:20).

I found the coolest commentary in Robertson’s Word Pictures of the NT about this passage:

Christ has obliterated the words barbarian, master, slave, all of them and has substituted the word brother.

I love that so much. It’s back to unity in the body of Christ. Jesus prayed it for us in John 17:23, do you remember?

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Unity in the body is of paramount importance to Jesus because it is the hub around which the spokes of the great commission turn. We are told to go into all the earth and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt 28). And our unity is what will make us believable!  Our unity, as the body of Christ, will create momentum in the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  They will KNOW that God sent Jesus and that God loves them as He loves His own Son by they way we operate as one. What a beautiful thought; what a beautiful God!

I want to leave today with this thought from John Piper’s same sermon on Colossians 3:

In other words, God is creating a new community out of people who have sloughed off their old selves and put on their new selves. And the mark of this new (chosen, loved, holy) community is [first] that the people in it stop cherishing the things that separate Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman. The new people in the new community do not boast in ethnic distinctives or language or intellect or culture or race or homeland or social status. Those things have passed away. And the number one, primary mark of newness in the new people and the new community is that Christ is all and in all. Don’t miss that all important climax at the end of verse 11: “But Christ is all and in all.”

And for our personal response time today, I hope you’ll take 5 minutes and worship the Lord with me.  Jesus breaks every chain that holds and binds us, Praise His Name – we really are made new!  I pray you’ll feel His freedom overwhelm you as you listen to the words & sing:

 

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