Opening thought: I was standing in a dusty parking lot in Amman, Jordan, with nine women from Duplin County, NC, renting a van to drive down to Petra, when the rental guy warned me to “Watch out for beasts in the desert!” I didn’t know what he was talking about, but later that night in the desert a taxi in front of us hit a wild donkey. The stress of all the wind, the sand, the dark, and the wild donkey made me understand that the beast was not in the desert, it was inside me! I needed to put off my sinfulness and put on Christ. Today’s passage focuses on just that, putting on Christlikeness.
Pray and Read: Colossians 3:12-17
Contextual Notes: Paul’s letter to the Colossians is about being “In Christ,” centering your life on Him (3:1-4) and growing deep in Him (2:6-7). Today’s passage puts us in the midst of that reality. Last week we looked at 3:5-11, where Paul encourages the Colossian believers to put off the sins of the body, the mind, and the mouth/spirit. Verses 5-11 direct the listener from outward to inward, but in this passage about putting on Christ, Paul uses a tight ABBA construction moving from outward to inward back to outward. Verses 12-14 call for putting on attributes of love like garments of outward beauty. Verse 15 encourages that the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts, ending with an admonition to thanksgiving. Then verse 16 begins inwardly with the word of Christ dwelling in the believers corporately moving outward in verse 17 to do all outward words and deeds in the name of Christ, ending again with an admonition to thanksgiving.
Key Truth: Paul wrote Colossians 2:16-23 to teach the Colossian Christians to dress themselves in Christ’s love, live in Christ’s peace, dwell in Christ’s word, and do all in Christ’s name.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about being enrobed in Christlikeness.
- Dress in Christ’s love (Col 3:12-14)
- Live in Christ’s peace (Col 3:15)
- Dwell in Christ’s word (Col 3:16)
- Do all in Christ’s name (Col 3:17)
Exposition: Note well,
1. DRESS IN CHRIST’S LOVE (3:12-14).
a. “12Therefore clothe yourselves, elect of God, holy and beloved, with tender mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13holding yourselves back from one another, and forgiving each other should anyone have a complaint. Just as Christ forgave you, so also you.14And upon all these things [put on] love which is the bond of perfection.”
b. Paul takes the figure of the “new man” as the “new garment.” NIV: “clothe yourselves.”
c. Compassion towards the miserable; Kindness toward loved ones and friends; humility to those in authority over us and those who serve us; Meekness toward those who have provoked or injured us; Patience toward those who continue to provoke us; Mutual forbearance considering the weaknesses and deficiencies in all of us; Readiness to forgive and move on; Because Christ forgave us.
d. Ephesians 4:34; Matthew 5:23-24; 6:14
e. Verse 14: Here love is the girdle or belt that holds all the garments together. Or perhaps the robe covering all.
f. ILLUSTRATION: I have heard preachers say that their church wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the people in it! Church is people, and therefore churches are never perfect.
g. APPLICATION: We often seem so surprised when people have disagreements in church because we are supposed to be holy. But this passage from the Bible today assumes that people in church will have disagreements and conflict. We should expect disagreement and conflict. Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark had a disagreement. Peter and Paul had one, too. The difference for Christians is how we handle that disagreement and conflict. The key is to keep our eyes centered on Christ, not on self.
2. LIVE IN CHRIST’S PEACE (3:15).
a. “15And let the peace of God act as umpire in your hearts, into which you were also called in one body. And keep on becoming thankful.”
b. ILLUSTRATION: On the baseball diamond, the umpire’s word goes. Let peace have that authority among us. Let the word of peace go among us. The Moravians had a maxim that is good for all of us: In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.
c. APPLICATION: Appeal to peace and thankfulness as your objective in working with others in the church. As long as there is no compromise in the essential doctrines like the divinity of Christ and his death and bodily resurrection, then let peace reign.
3. DWELL IN CHRIST’S WORD (3:16)
a. “16Let the word of Christ make its home in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts toward the Lord.”
b. Some scholars compare the psalms to the Greek verb psallo which means music with instrumentation. They say hymns are songs sung to Christ and spiritual songs are extemporaneous music in praise to God. Some go further and say they apply to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
c. APPLICATION: The point Paul makes here is that we should be growing deep in Christ’s word. We should be at home in his Word, so much that it comes back out of us in music and song. Similarly, music is a very effective way to get the Word of God into children. They learn the Word through learning it in music. Teachers, families, are you growing your children in God’s word? Are you growing in God’s word? One way to answer that question is to ask yourself if you find yourself singing praise to God often or not at all. If you don’t ever find yourself singing praise to him, then there is an indication that you are not growing in His word.
4. DO ALL IN CHRIST’S NAME (Col 3:17).
a. “17And everything whatever you do, in word or in work, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
b. Application: Your work and your tongue reveal your inward integrity. So how’s that going for you? Does your quality of work and the produce of your mouth reveal a life of thanksgiving or complaining and murmuring? Do they reveal a life centered on your Lord Jesus or on your own pitiful self?
Invitation: Today is the day to make a commitment to enrobe yourself in Christ. Whether it is to receive Jesus as Lord today or to commit to put off the old man with its ways and put on Christlikeness like you would a robe. Would you respond to him today?