Several hundred years before Paul’s day, Colossae had been a leading city in Asia Minor (present day Turkey). It was located on the Lycus River and on the great east-west trade route leading from Ephesus on the Aegean Sea to the Euphrates River. By the first century a.d. Colossae was diminished to a second rate market town, which had been surpassed long ago in power and importance by the neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis (see 4:13).

What gave Colossae New Testament importance, however, was the fact that, Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus, Epaphras had been converted and had carried the gospel to Colossae (c.f. 1:7-8; Acts 19:10). The young church that resulted then became the target of heretical attack, which led to Epaphras’s visit to Paul in Rome and ultimately to the penning of the Colossian letter.

Perhaps as a result of the efforts of Epaphras or other converts of Paul, Christian churches had also been established in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Some of them were house churches (see 4:15; Philem 2). Most likely all of them were primarily Gentile.

We, as Christians, are to set our sights and our focus upon Christ as Lord, who raised us to new life, for this is our authentic reality and Truth. We trust in Christ who sits at God’s right hand in honor and power in the reality of heaven. We are heaven bound; we are to set our thoughts and hopes on Him.

Let Christ fill our thoughts and take hold of our will so we need not give a thought to earthly troubles and fears. We are in Christ; we died to Him and now He is our genuine world and life and we share in His glory. We can put sin and our sinful ways to death, those earthy wants and needs that are bad and cause harm to others and us. Have nothing to do with evil or sin or any kind of anger, greed, bad language, lying, or any thoughts of impurity or idolatry. For these things stir God’s anger and we do not want that.

When we have received His grace and forgiveness, why would we go back to what hurts others and us? Strip off this old nature of sin and put on His nature of fruitfulness and renewal by clothing yourselves in His goodness with your new nature within you that He created. Neither our nationality nor socioeconomic status matter when we are in Christ; all that matters is that he is real and true and lives in us all.

It is not enough just to know what we should know; we must do as we are called to do. We need to not only engage His Word, but also obey and practice its commandments. If not, we are not living as an authentic Christian. How do we do this?

Paul tells us to put to death our old man-our sin and evil desires-and not only embrace our new lives in Christ but reside in them as well. We are to make Christ first in order to receive His blessings and empowerment! That way, Jesus is our focus and attention rather than our own agendas. Then, we will lead lives of distinction, maturity, and character (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 6:1-14; Eph. 2:1-10).

There is no reason or necessary function for an authentic Christian to be drawn to sexual sin, greed, rage, dirty language, gossip, slander, malicious behaviors, or idolatry ruling our hearts and minds. Such things cause us to seek other things to be our god and direction in life. We may not be able to remove sin completely, but we can move away from sin and towards our Lord. We can throw off our wrong desires, and live a life that is real, impacting, and triumphant! Do not allow your life to be hidden or unproductive. You are so much better than the world says you are or people on the street or work say you are; you have power from on High! You were dead; now you are alive in Him. What more can you possibly need or want? Christ is all that matters and He is living, working, and guiding you as a Christian!

SCRIPTURE:

Put On the New Self

1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.5Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

QUESTIONS:

  • What does this passage say?
  • What does this passage mean?
  • What is God telling you?
  • How are you encouraged and strengthened?
  • Is there sin in your life for which confession and repentance is needed?
  • How can this change you so you can learn and grow?
  • What is in the way of these commandments affecting you? What is in the way of your listening to God?
  • How does this apply to you? What will you do about it?
  • What does God want you to share with someone?
  • What kind of clothes can you buy to make you feel like a new person? How does this make you feel? How is this like being in Christ?
  • How have you set your focus upon Christ? How have you failed at this? What does it mean that Christ is Lord and has raised you to new life? How does this motivate you?
  • How is Jesus Christ your real reality and Truth? What does it mean to you, to trust in Christ? How is He your reality?
  • How do you feel that you, as a Christian are saved by grace and heaven bound? How does this help you today and in the future to set your thoughts and hopes in and with Him?
  • What can you do to put to death sin and your sinful ways, such as bad wants and needs?
  • What causes God’s anger? Do you think this is just? What about when you are angry? How and why is your anger sometimes sin?
  • How do the sins listed in this passage ignore grace and forgiveness, thereby hurting others and us?
  • What do you think God needs to be doing in you? What are you going to do in allowing Him to do so?
  • How does your trust lead to your obedience of God’s commandments? How does it motivate you knowing that your trust in Christ will produce holy living as a result of Christ working in you? What stops you from allowing this to happen?

Paul Tanner                           paul@thecatholicword.com                               thecatholicword.wordpress.com

 

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