Colossians 3 Bible study

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Chapter 3.

The New Life brings New Desires.

3:1  Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

 

As believers we have died with Christ. Our sinful nature (the "old man") was put to death with Christ on the cross. It was buried with Him and through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been raised from death to a new life in Him. Rom. 6:3-4. The "new man", being born of God, shares God's nature, which is spiritual and eternal. Just as our sinful, earthly nature (or old man) desired the things of the earth (and cannot desire the things of God) so the spiritual nature (or new man) desires the things which are heavenly, spiritual, of the Spirit. So, since we are born again with this spiritual nature, we are to set our hearts and minds fully on things above. That is, spirirual things, for Paul defines "above" as where Christ is, at God's right hand.

 

3:2  Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth.

 

We are to set our minds on things above in preference to the things of the earth.

 

3:3  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

 

We have died with Christ, the world - and its attractions - is dead to us. But we are alive to God, and our lives are kept secure in Christ

 

3:4  When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.

 

The New Life have is Christ Himself, dwelling in us (Col. 1:27). We have this life now and will enter into the full experience of it when we share His glorious likeness when He comes again (1 John 3:2).

 

Off with the Old - On with the New

3:5  So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry.

 

Since our sinful nature has been crucified with Christ, we are to put to death the sinful desires of this nature. That is, we are to subdue them and not allow them to rule in our lives. Paul lists several examples - sins of the body and sins of the spirit: Illegal sexual intercourse, which means and includes sex outside of marriage, adultery, homosexuality and any other perverted sexual practise. ‚ unleaness or moral impurity. The same word is used in the NT to describe evil or unclean spirits. Hence Paul is referring to all sensuality, which is earthly and devilish (James 3:15). Passionate desire - for evil things. Greed and covetousness (which is idolatry, since it is the putting of self or other things in the place of God).

 

3:6  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience.

 

It is because of these things that God's holy anger is continually upon those who are obstinate and who refuse to obey the gospel (John 3:36)

 

3:7  You also lived your lives in this way at one time, when you used to live among them.

 

We all used to live this way before we knew Christ, but now we know Him we are to put off these things, not giving into them or doing them any more.

 

3:8  But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth.

 

Paul goes lists further evidences of the sinful nature, which have to do with attitude (spirit) and speech. These must also be put off. They are anger, rage, bad feelings towards others (whether caused by envy or jealousy), blasphemy (speaking evil of God) and all kinds of foul-mouthed abuse including swearing, cursing and speaking evil of men.

 

3:9-10  Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.

 

We are not to lie to, or decieve, each other. Lying is the nature of the old man. We have put off the old man and put on the new man which is created anew in the likeness of God who is Truth, who cannot lie and has never sought to deceive anyone (1 Peter 2:22).

 

3:11  Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.

 

In the new creation, there is no distinction between race or class (not even with the most savage of heathen -the Scythians) for the only thing that matters is that we belong to Christ. He is everything to us and He is in all of us.

 

3:12  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

 

Since we are God's chosen people, set apart for Him and dearly loved, we are to live in a way that fits our calling. Having told us what to put off, Paul now tells us what to put on. These are the characteristics of the new man. We are to have tender-hearted feeling and compassion for others, kindness (friendliness) and a lowly opinion of ourselves. We are to be gentle and always patient. Patience is defined as that "tireless long suffering which has the power to endure whatever comes with good temper." (Amp. N.T.)

 

3:13  Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.

 

We are (lit.) to hold up or put up with one another, without losing our tempers or falling out and we are to forgive each other whatever grievances or complaints we have against each other. We must forgive as Christ forgave us.

 

3:14  And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond.

 

Above everything else we must put on love which binds us and holds us close together in Christ. Wesley says "The love of God contains the whole of Christian perfection".

 

3:15  Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful.

 

Whenever doubts or questions arise in our minds, we are to let the peace of God act as umpire, deciding and settling these questions with finality, so that we may maintain the peaceful state that we are called to as members of one body. That is, peace within ourselves and peace with others. We are always to appreciate what God has done for us, expressing our thanks to Him verbally

 

3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.

 

Jesus said "Man does not live by bread alone". Our new nature is fed and receives its life from the word of God. It is not enough to memorise or be able to quote scripture, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us understanding of its truth, allowing Him to take God's Word into our hearts and apply it to our lives. We must let the Word of God remain in us so that it becomes the rule which governs our lives. We must be careful to ensure the word remains in our hearts, and we can do this by constantly teaching and admonishing (putting in mind) one another of its truth. Not only through preaching the word, but by singing the Word in songs and hymns based on scripture, with grace in our hearts to the Lord. And not just in church, but everywhere. Not just once, but all day long.

 

Living the New Life

Does God's word rule in your life? Paul gives instructions to different groups of people as to how they should live their lives to please God.

 

3:17  And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

Whatever we do or say is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, since we are His representatives on earth. We do all we do for Him, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

 

3:18  Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

 

Wives are to submit themselves to their husbands. That means to put themselves under obedience to.  The wife must adapt to her husband, since this is proper: it is the Lord's will and the wife's duty.

 

3:19  Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

 

Husbands are to love their wives and show them due consideration and affection, without becoming irritated and bitter against them.

 

3:20  Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord.

 

Christian children are to obey their parents in everything, as this is well pleasing to the Lord.

 

3:21  Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they will not become disheartened.

 

Fathers must not provoke their children by being hard on them or by making them feel inferior, for then they will become discouraged. The danger of this is that it may cause them to give up trying to do the good they should do.

 

3:22-23 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in every respect, not only when they are watching — like those who are strictly people-pleasers — but with a sincere heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people.

 

Bondservants (employees) are to obey their masters (employers) in everything. They must render them wholehearted service not only when they are being watched but also when they are not, in the fear of God. They are to work with all their hearts as if they were working for the Lord, not men.

 

3:24 Because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ.

 

Those who serve the Lord well, whether in the things of this life or in spiritual matters will certainly be rewarded by Him.

 

3:25  For the one who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there are no exceptions.

 

But the fact that we are Christians does not give us immunity from punishment for doing wrong. We will still be required to pay the penalty for our wrong doing, since there is no favouritism with God. At the beginning of chapter 4 we see that masters (employers) are to pay their workers right and fair wages for the services that are rendered to them and are not to exploit their staff, since in the same way as they treat their workers, they will be treated by their Master in heaven.

 

(Note: There is a difference between employees and slaves. Slaves were owned by their masters. An employee gives his work in exchange for pay. So the idea of obeying our bosses today includes only those things which are reasonable under the terms and conditions of our employment. For example, if the boss wanted you to go into town to buy his dinner, you certainly might go out of goodwill to him, but you would not have to go, since it is not part of yor job. Paul doesn't condone employees being bullied or used).

 

 

 

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