Colossians 3: Our All in All
I found it interesting when looking at three different versions of the Bible the different sub-headings for this chapter: Rules for Holy Living (NIV); Remember Your Goal (KJV); Not Carnality But Christ (NKJV). I saw that I could combine them in this manner: In following the rules for Holy living one must remember your goal which is to be conformed to the image of Christ, not carnality. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make me like the Son of God.
Paul will now move to the practical application of the doctrines he has been teaching. We are to move toward our practice more closely matching our position. The doctrines we declare to believe are to be demonstrated in our lives. In other words, does your behavior match your beliefs?
We are new creatures in Christ Jesus. My new nature is now who I am. I must live out my life in this new nature, this new identity. This section provides instructions about living out my new identity. God’s Word is my source for truth about my new identity.
Paul tells us our new self is being renewed in knowledge. (Verse 10) Jesus told us if we abide in His word we are his disciples indeed and we shall know the truth and the truth will set us free. Free from our old sinful nature and its evil desires.
Having told us the truths in the previous chapter Paul told us: we have been buried with Christ in baptism and raised with Him through our faith in the power of God, who raised Jesus from the dead. God has made us alive with Christ and all our sins are forgiven. We have a new identity.
Colossians 3: 1- “ Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Fact: you have been raised with Christ. Fact: He is seated at the right hand of God. Fact: “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in heavenly places…” (Ephesians 2: 6)
This is literally and spiritually my position. Paul is reminding us where we are now. How can we be two places at once? How can I be on earth and in heaven at the same time? My inside lives in heaven- my outside lives here on earth. For we are told flesh and blood will not inherit heaven. I have Christ in my heart and in my mind and soul. And the only way I can come to realize this is as I spend time with Him in His Word. He walks with me and talks with me. I now understand what my mother prayed for to have a conscious awareness of God at all times. Our minds must be transformed.
The NIV says “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things”; while the KJV says ‘set your affections on things above, not on things on earth.” The two versions reveal a profound truth- where your treasure is there will your heart and thus your affections be also. (Matthew 6) What are you preoccupied with? Your career, money, security, popularity, power, material possessions? These reveal what you have set your mind on- and thereby set your affections upon.
This world system has conformed us. We have taken on its measure of value and its value system is how we measure our physical life. Houses, cars, clothes, money, position. The world system classifies us by the zip code we live in, the financial bracket we are in, the degrees we have earned and the company we keep. It has always been that way. Nathaniel said can anything good come from Nazareth? We classify people by their heritage and occupation. Nathaniel’s first impression of Jesus was based on where he was from and his family. He is a carpenter, the son of a carpenter from Nazareth.
The moment you and I were saved, God granted us the capacity to enter into His presence. This is where our life is now- in heavenly places. This means this is where not only my position is but where my perspective, my point of view is. I am preoccupied with the divine, not the earthly. Now as someone once said, ‘we are not to be so heavenly minded- we are no earthly good.’
In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us our Heavenly Father knows what we have need of here on this earth. But our preoccupation with our position in Him is to lead us to ‘seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the things we need will be given to us.’ Realize this is the mind of a servant. If you watched the series Downton Abby, you were captivated by the mind of the servants who sought only to please their masters.
This is why we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and all our mind. Why does God command us to do this? It has to do with a fundamental law we see in our society every day. It is the law of worship and beholding. And mankind was made to worship. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us: “ But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirt of the Lord.” God tells us to worship Him, because we humans actually adapt ourselves to things we admire and devote ourselves to the things and persons we idealize. Psychiatry calls this ‘modeling.’ Behold means to observe with care; to pay close attention to. Those things and those people we admire we tend to imitate and observe closely. The Bible calls it the law of worship. By beholding the glory of God we become changed. Why does God wants us to worship Him? Because He is the only One worthy of worship. And anything else we worship, as in the things of this world, will only lead us to degenerate. Choose you this day whom or what you will worship- to paraphrase Joshua. For whom or what your worship is whom or what you will serve. “As a man thinketh in his heart – so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7, KJV) The will is designed by God as a faculty of the mind and is to function in the direction of reason and conscience. This why God implores us- ‘come let us reason together’. *We have obviously left God out of our reasoning in this country and set up our own rules for living, and Holy living is not even considered or desired as an option.
Paul is reminding us of who we have become. Then Paul tells us what our responsibility is- to set our minds and affections on things above not on the things on earth. Paul will get to the specifics of what we are to do and not to do in order to put our minds on things above. But first we need to see and understand the resource we have which will enable us to do this.
Notice the resource: “For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” When did I die? At salvation. I was crucified with Christ. (Past tense) I am now alive with Him. (Present tense) We now possess eternal life. Eternal life is not just a quantity of never-ending life; it is a quality of life. It is heavenly life. When we got saved, we came alive in Christ, and alive to the dimensions of heaven. Our minds were opened to understand the Word of God and spiritual truths. We began to desire what God desired. We began to understand what God willed for our lives. It is a process. It takes time spent in the Word in study, prayer and obedience.
We begin to realize when we have Christ we have everything we need. Peter writes: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him, who called us to His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1)
Here is what the amazing truth is: We have entered a new dimension of life. You have a different perspective of the world in which we live, because you have a point of view from heaven, from God’s point of view. We now seek those things above. Make it the habit of our life to seek those things above. Spend time each and every day in the Word and in prayer.
Let this new nature on the inside direct the outside. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may be able to prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12: 1, 2, KJV)
Paul then gives us specific directions of things to put off and what to put on. The word picture this brings to mind is putting off the old nature like taking off filthy clothes and putting on the new nature – which to me is a picture of putting on the white robe of Christ’s righteousness. Imagine falling in a slimy, filthy pig pen then taking a clean bath scrubbing away all that filth and stench, then putting back on those filthy, stinking clothes again. This is the picture this passage brings to my mind. Yet when we as Christians sin again after having been plucked out of the filth, it should be just as disgusting.
Notice how we deal with our old nature: the old self was put to death at the cross. Paul then names some very specific sins: fornication (sexual sin of all types), uncleanness (lustful impurity), inordinate affections (sexual impurity), evil desires, and greed. *He warns us the wrath of God is coming because of these sins. (Yet the highest court in the land had decreed darkness- light and light darkness without fear of God’s wrath.)
Paul then reminds us we used to walk this way. He also then tells us as new creations to rid ourselves of such things as: anger, rage, malice, slander, lies and filthy language.
Notice how we put on the new self: “… since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
If are to purify our actions. Then we must purify our minds first and our hearts. “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psalm 51) The prayer of David should be our prayer and come from our deepest desire to be all that God has saved us to be.
Jesus left his old grave clothes in the grave. Grave clothes represent the old life with its sinful deeds. Why having been cleansed from the filth and having taken off these filthy rags would we want to put them on again? Because we have not put our minds on things above- but on things on earth. Now that we have put on Christ, we must walk in ‘newness of life.”
When I was born the first time, physically, I was born in Adam. I had a sinful nature. All that was in Adam was in me by inheritance. I inherited this nature without any effort on my part. Similarly, when I was born again in the Spirit, I was in Christ. And all that is in Christ comes to me and you by free grace, without any effort on my part.
“If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold they are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5: 17)
How do we live out this new life?
The conditions for living out the new life are:
- Presenting ourselves to God
- Walking in the Spirit.
Let me give you three truths which apply to you as a believer:
- Justified: “Therefore since we have been justified (past tense, accomplished) through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which you now stand.” ( Roman5:1)
- Died to sin’s rule over my life. “ For we know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6)
- Forever free from condemnation. “There is therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” ( Romans 8) And whom the Son sets free- is free indeed. (John 8) It is for freedom Christ set us free. ( Galatians 5)
These are historic facts of what has occurred in our lives. We are to know these facts. Why do we believe these facts? Because we believe the Word of God. Two thieves were crucified at the same time as our Lord Jesus. They were on both sides of Him, but on different crosses. You and I and every believer were on the same cross with Christ placed in Him. And he that is dead in Christ is freed from sin- but we not only died with Him with rose with Him to walk in newness of life. This is the good news!
The first step in living the Christian life is knowing these truths. We know these spiritual truths because we have been given the Spirit of God who reveals to us what God has freely given us. He opens our spiritual eyes and heart so we can see these truths. I once was blind and so were you, but now I see.
The next step is ‘reckoning’ or ‘counting’ which is an accounting term. . “Likewise reckon also yourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ.” (Romans 6:11, KJV) Reckon or count is verify something is correct: a deposit in your bank account; an inventory taken and carefully double checked. Reckon one’s self dead to sin is not a command it is a fact already accomplished, which by faith we believe and realize is true. Notice in the KJV it states it emphatically – dead indeed. Accounting is reckoning; it is math. It is here an accounting of facts.
What is the key to reckoning? Revelation. The Spirit of God has revealed this to us as a fact. God cannot lie and He has told us to put down this fact- we are dead to sin and alive unto God through Christ. The natural man cannot understand spiritual truths because he does not have the Spirit of God. He thinks they are foolish.
The next step is presenting yourself to God. Other words used to describe this process are – yielding and offering. Romans 12 (KJV) says “present your bodies”, the NIV says ‘offer’. In Romans 6, the word ‘yield’ is used. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts thereof. Neither yield (offer) your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield (offer) yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness.” (Romans 6: 12, 13 KJV)
Think about it: how else can the Lord live out His life in us, if we do not give Him our lives in which to live? * Now let me forewarn you: God will always break what is offered to Him. But after He breaks it, He blesses it and uses it to meet the needs of others. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51: 17)
The Lord bought me. He paid much too high a price. I am his slave, I am not my own. I willingly yield to my loving Master- who wants the best for me.
The fourth step, is as all of these steps are, a continual process. The fourth step is to walk in the spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh, the old nature.
Romans 8: 3-5 tell us: “ For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His Own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live (walk) after the sinful nature (flesh) but after the Spirit. Those who live (walk) according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live (walk) in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
Paul goes on to tell us to carnally minded is death- but to be spiritually minded is life.
We believe Christ is our life. We believe the Spirit of God is resident in our hearts. Why would we not want Him to direct our lives? Recognize the Lord not only as Lord, but Master. He is our Boss- and He is not a cruel master like sin was- He is loving and good and kind. Before each day begins, a servant, a slave would know what his master wanted of him that day.
Each day we can meet with our Master. We can walk with Him and talk with Him. And the time we spend with Him is like no other. It is our resource. All I have needed His hand has provided.
We must know the truths which have been revealed to us by the Spirit in the Word of God.
We must reckon, count and realize these are true.
We must make a decision daily to yield, offer present our bodies as living sacrifices.
We must walk in faith and by faith not by sight.
We have everything we need in Christ- we have need of nothing else. This is why Paul declares “Christ is all and in all.”
He is my righteousness; my sanctification, my peace, my present help in time of trouble, the One who love me and gave Himself for me.
He is my all in all- is He yours?
ATTRIBUTES OF GOD: When we speak of God’s attributes, we are talking about characteristic traits that help us understand who He truly is. For example: We say God is Love; God is good; God is Holy, etc. Sometimes we are given other ways to describe Him so we can relate to Him: He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Light of the World. He is the Great Shepherd. He is the Lamb of God. He is called the Door, the Bread of Life.
For this lesson I have chosen a description John gave us in the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1)
Psalm 119 is all about the Word, also referred to as statutes, precepts, promises and teachings.
Now remember who the Word is- Jesus. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (vs.11)
“How can a young man keep his way pure, by living according to your Word.” (Vs 9)
“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” (vs. 24)
“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light upon my path.” (Vs 105)
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your Word.” (Vs 114)
“Great peace have they who love your Law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Vs 165)
The Rules for Holy Living which help us remember our goal is to be conformed to Christ, not carnality.
He is our all in all- He is the Great I Am.
God says I Am All you need.