The reality of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is that not only do we have the opportunity to have our sins forgiven and our home in Heaven secured, but we receive the Life of Christ. His life is literally deposited inside of us. We are given Holy Spirit power to live as Christ lived on the earth. Just how does that happen, and how can we ensure nothing gets in the way of that happening completely and fully? We are going to walk through several verses in Colossians 3 to help us.
Colossians 3:1-10 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
So, Paul tells us in Colossians 3:4 that Christ is our life. He becomes what we live for. His life, the way He lived it, becomes the motivation for how we choose to live our lives. Giving Him freedom to move in and through our lives becomes the goal. How does it happen? How does Christ’s life become our life? I think Paul helps us see first of all, that:
It is an Intentional DECISION
The words “put to death” in verse 5, “rid yourselves” in verse 8 and “put on the new self,” in verse 10 create an opportunity for you to decide just how much you will allow Christ’s life to dominate the way you live out His life. Paul says that there were things that were part of your life before Christ became your life that can now no longer be in your life if Jesus’ life is going to be fully experienced in you, because those things aren’t compatible with the life of Jesus.
Jesus wasn’t sexually immoral. He lived a sexually pure life, demonstrating it is even possible to be single and be sexually pure. He didn’t give Himself over to lust which is the way He kept Himself in check. He didn’t let evil desires gain a foothold in His mind or heart, so He wasn’t controlled by anything but the will of God. He wasn’t greedy or selfish. The only anger He possessed was righteous anger. He was only angry about the things which made God angry. We know Jesus didn’t possess any malice towards anyone because He washed His betrayer’s feet, and He prayed for forgiveness for those who crucified Him. He never misspoke or tried to malign someone with His words. His words weren’t spoken to cut people down, but to convict them in order to bring correction and blessing to their lives. Jesus wasn’t loose with His conversation. He didn’t take the Father’s name in vain. He didn’t use swear words. His language wasn’t vulgar, crude, or laced with sexual innuendo. He only told the truth.
What I want to help us understand today is that if the life of Jesus is to be manifested in our lives, we will have to make a decision to put some things behind us, to put some things to death. Before Jesus’ Resurrected Life can fully take hold in our lives, we have to make a decision to bury some things.
Remember, Galatians 2:20 tells us we are crucified with Christ. We no longer live. Who we were is now buried with Christ. We have been raised to newness of life (Romans 6:4). If it wasn’t part of Jesus’ life, we need to conduct a funeral for those things in our lives that have to die so that the life of Jesus isn’t impeded in any way in our lives.
That’s the part of the Gospel that is sometimes hard for folks to hear. Jesus invites us not only to discipleship but to the death of our old way of life. Jesus invites us to die. Not so that we can’t have a meaningful or fun or quality life, but so that we can have the best life possible. Resurrection life is the best life, but Resurrection Life only follows a crucifixion. Jesus said, “Follow me,” to His disciples, but their followship meant a funeral to their old way of life. He called them not just away from the mundane and ordinary, but Jesus called His disciples away from a life of sin and self into a supernatural experience in the realm of faith, a realm higher than the flesh. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
The list of things that have to die and be removed from our lives isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is a good start, and really the list represents about every area of our lives. The first list of things that have to die in verse 5 deals with how we control our bodies. The second category Paul addressed in verse 5 was greed which represented idolatry which impacts our hearts. The third list in verses 8 and 9 deals with how we treat other people. So, in the listing of those behaviors Paul covered how we handle our bodies, how we handle our hearts and how we handle with other people.
Is the life of Jesus on display in the way you control your mind and your body? Is the life of Jesus seen as the priority of your heart or has greed or something else gotten a grip on you? Is the life of Jesus on display in the way you talk in general? What about when you are upset and the way you talk about others?
Sexual impurity seems to be something more and more believers are welcoming into their lives. There is a lot of rationalizing going on in this department as I see it. God has much to say about physical purity. Young people, listen to me, you don’t know that the person you are with now is going to be “the one.” Loving someone does not have to mean sexual compromise. Love and sex are not interchangeable. I know it isn’t easy, but it is worth the wait if you will do things God’s way. Check yourself. How are you maintaining control of your body? We are supposed to lead our bodies, not the other way around. We aren’t to be dragged here and there and experimenting with our sexuality just because of an impulse or feeling. We are to preserve and reserve ours bodies for what God has approved.
Our hearts are easily cluttered with the wrong things. When there is an idol in our lives it is like a neon flashing sign that says, “Christ is not my life!” “Work is my life,” or “Shopping is my life,” or “The number of likes on my latest profile picture is my life” or “My boyfriend is my life” or “Video games are my life.” What needs to die in order to ensure the life of Christ can rise to supreme in your life?
We are prone to get sucked into the drama of this world, to “fight fire with fire” which gets people into name calling and disrespecting people. Don’t believe me? Follow a WSAZ poll on Facebook. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. When a question is asked and people begin to respond, I believe the worst of humanity is on display, and it’s heartbreaking that at times, there are names I recognize that are chiming in on the same low level as the world. I even see Christians sharing memes sometimes that contain swear words. While the sentiment itself may be something I can get behind, the Word of God is clear…We aren’t to use language that isn’t compatible with the life of Christ.
You and I have a decision to make regarding how important, how precious, how valuable the life of Christ is. Do we want it at all cost, or will we risk it being minimized and quite possibly choked out by things that we aren’t willing to put to death?
Romans 13:14 says we are to make no provision for the flesh. Don’t give your flesh or the things of this world the wrong kind of attention. Whatever you feed, grows. Whatever you starve dies. You get to decide what lives and what dies in your life.
Not only is there an intentional decision to make, but when you choose the life of Christ, There will be a Visible DEMONSTRATION. This takes us to verse 12 of our Colossians 3 text.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
We see in this passage that not only is there a taking off of things that are inconsistent with the Jesus’ life, but there is also a putting on of the things that make Jesus’ life visible to other people. Isn’t that the goal? We are to put on compassion because it helps us see people the way Jesus saw them. Compassion is about more than seeing; it is about doing. Jesus was moved with compassion to do something to alleviate suffering or to bring support to a person in need. There was a demonstration of His heart that accompanied everything He did.
Humility makes us approachable. It is a visible quality that invites people to come closer and to engage in relationship with us. Gentleness tells people they can trust us to be vulnerable with us and patience confirms that people can count on us to be there for the long haul.
These are qualities that must be demonstrated by believers because they reflect the character and heart of Christ. You can tell when someone isn’t compassionate, can’t you? Have you ever had a customer service issue and shared it with the person who was tasked with hearing your concern, only to have them say, “That’s not my problem?” That’s a response that is a bit lacking in the compassion department. You can tell when people aren’t kind. Kind people boost your confidence. They encourage you. Unkind people tear you down and make you feel small. Arrogance is easy to spot. It puts people off. Humility builds bridges. When gentleness is demonstrated, you feel cared about. Impatient people can cause others anxiety. Patient people nurture you to success.
These are all qualities that we are to put on. I like that Paul likened them to clothing. We’re glad to have a new outfit, to wear clothes that make us feel good. We have no trouble being on display when we have something special to wear. We want people to see our new clothes. Paul says, “Let people see the life of Jesus as clearly as they can see what you are wearing on your physical body.”
Verse 14 is about forgiveness. Forgiveness is more than an attitude. It is an action. Number one, we are way too easily offended. Number two, we throw relationships away way too quickly. We are so quick to be done with people. To delete people. To block people. To avoid people. To discard people. That isn’t the essence of Christ’s forgiveness. When Christ forgives, people come closer. There is reconciliation. There is a bridge built.
The way we demonstrate forgiveness should represent the kind of forgiveness that Christ has extended to us. It isn’t a “Just go on and get out of my sight” kind of forgiveness, but it’s a “Come with Me to a better place” kind of forgiveness. When we demonstrate the forgiveness of Christ, we take relationships from broken to whole. Christ’s forgiveness brought healing to us. We get into the healing ministry of Jesus when we choose to forgive those who hurt us.
Not only does Paul outline an intentional decision, and a visible demonstration, but as we move to verse 15, I want to suggest to you that there is a Spiritual DEFERENCE.
These things that we have talked about so far, crucifying the flesh and demonstrating the attitudes of Jesus, are about exercising our will. This third aspect of allowing the life of Christ to reign in us is about submitting our will. That is what I mean by spiritual deference. We defer to Christ. When Christ wants to rise in our lives, we stand down. When He wants to move in us, we get out of the way. This is a spiritual exercise. It involves faith. Look at verses 15-17:
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
We’re told to “let” the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. This word has the same kind of meaning as an umpire in a baseball game. You could translate the verse to say, “Let the peace of Christ be the umpire for your heart.” You have to let Jesus have the final say about you and your circumstances. You have to let Him be the boss of your heart and mind. When you are anxious, reach for Christ and hear Him say just like an umpire would, “You are safe.” Hear Him whisper, “You are OK. You will make it. I have you covered. You have My peace.” It is a spiritual activity to rest in the peace of Christ and to stop stressing over things you cannot control. You have to let Him have charge of your mind. You have to exercise trust in His plan. He always has a plan. He is never without a plan, and His plan is always the best.
Paul continued in verse 15 by saying we are to be thankful. We need to live with a spirit of thanksgiving. We need to be focused on the positive. Nothing will take you down faster or give Satan and inroad to your life faster than negativity and a complaining spirit. Be thankful for all God has done for you through Christ and for all the ways He has come to you in your physical life to support and help you. Mind where your mind is! Get it on thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is absolutely a spiritual discipline. It can change your attitude and the whole course of your day.
Verse 16 says we are to allow, to permit God’s word to dwell in us richly. That means we have to open it, study it, meditate on it, chew it slowly, memorize it and digest it. It means we need to stay Word-centered. We’ve got to keep it in front of us. It is the way we are fed. It is the meat and potatoes of the spiritual life. There is no substitute for the Word of God. Nothing else will produce the life of Christ in you quicker than time in the Word.
Paul didn’t leave out the importance of worship in helping us experience the life of Christ. He referenced psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Do you understand that the life of Christ is a life of healing and wholeness? If we believe that the Resurrection of Christ caused Christ to go from lifeless to life to the full, then we have to understand that when we engage in resurrection activities, when we engage in activities that promote the life of Christ, and celebrate the life of Christ, in activities that have the power to reproduce the life of Christ in us, we must incorporate those activities into our lives. Worship is one of those life-giving activities. I truly believe Jesus expands in us when we worship Him. Don’t be a spectator. Don’t come to watch. Come to worship so that the life of Christ can be fully expanded in your life.
Spiritual deference. Let Christ give you His peace rather than looking to the things of the world to make you “ok.” Let Christ’s Word be your ultimate authority and the go-to for wisdom needed for daily life. Worship, even when you don’t feel like it, because God is always worthy of your worship. And finally, Paul helps us see that every activity and action, every decision we make, is all about Jesus and for Jesus. Look at verse 17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Spiritual deference means that you don’t live to make a name for yourself, but you live to make Christ known. That is what having the life of Christ is all about. I love it when I see one of our church members posting about how good God is, how God worked something out, how God arranged circumstances to make a way where there had not been a way, how Jesus stepped in and took control of something or brought the healing or answers that were needed. We ought to be doing that every chance we get. We ought to live in such a way to put Jesus in the spotlight every day. One thing about the life of Jesus, it wasn’t a quiet life, was it?
What intentional decision do you need to make today in order to allow the life of Christ to be more prominent in your life?
What visible demonstration can you engage in that would help others more effectively see Christ in you?
In what way do you need to defer to Christ, to look to Him, to allow Him to be your authority, and to promote His name?
Walking with Christ, being His disciple, is about more than a conversion moment. It is about a daily life with Him that allows His life to be lived out through yours. As you reflect on Colossians 3, can you say, “The life I am living is the life of Christ?” If not, today you can receive His power to change and allow Him to become your life, to lead your life, and to possess your life so that others see Him.