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Colossians
Chapter 3

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Colossians Chapter Three
Commentary by Ron Beckham

 Audio Bible Study - Colossians 3:1-5

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

God's perspective is very different from our own.  God told Adam, the first man, that if he disobeyed the only negative commandment for mankind at that time, he would "surely die" (Genesis 2:17).  Adam and his wife, Eve, did disobey, but they kept walking around for many years after that time.  They died spiritually at the time they sinned, but their bodies were still moving.  They were animated, but not alive in the sight of God.

And that is how God sees the human race.  When Adam died, we died, and nothing we can do as a race or as individuals will change it.  Except for Christ.  When He died, our sins died with Him, and when He was "raised up" to life, we were "raised up" with Him, IF we are willing to trust in Him and what He has done.  When we do, our whole focus changes, and the secret to JOY, is to "keep seeking the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."  Humanity is dead, but those in Christ are made - alive!

Verse 2. "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."

I don't think anybody says it better than Jesus Himself: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and stead, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

Or as Paul says it in this verse in Colossians, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."  Today is a good day to consider what you think about.  Yes, it IS impossible to ONLY think about heaven.  If you don't think about your job, you'll be fired.  If you never think about your spouse, they'll eventually be gone.  Here's how it works: "Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these (other) things SHALL be added to YOU" (Matthew 6:33).

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

It's wonderful!  "You have died," Paul says, which doesn't sound so good, but it really means that when Christ died on the cross, your SINS died with Him.  Your sin nature died, to the extent that, in Christ, you can now have victory over the sins that previously defeated you.  In Christ, you become willing to "confess your sins," and because we are "hidden with Christ in God," He will "forgive us... and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).  Your old life "died" and you are safely alive, "hidden" - in Him.

A professor in college spoke to us about this verse.  He borrowed a coin from a student in the front row, placed it into one of his own hands, and closed his fist over it.  He then closed his other hand over the first, and then did it again, so we could not miss the imagery.  He held up his fists in the air, one closed over the other, and said, "This quarter represents YOU."  And he looked at us as he continued, "YOU;" he said, "YOUR life is hidden with Christ in God."

Verse 4. "When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."

When a husband truly loves his wife and she really loves her husband, they want to BE with one another.  As it said in Verse 1 of this Chapter, you have already been "raised up with Christ" and are with Him right now.  That's God's perspective of the one whose "life is hidden with Christ in God" (Verse 3).  We are already with Him, and at some point, the reality of these verses will be shown when we are "revealed with Him in glory."

We typically DON'T see things as God sees them.  Part of the problem is that we are often blind to the things of the Spirit.  God is "sighted" and we are not.  Those who are blind do well when they accept the help of those who are sighted and we do well when we accept the help, the Words that come from God.  He who can see us as we really are, will show us the way we should go.  Note there is no TIME in eternity.  We are literally already there with Him (Verse 1), though we are unable to see it right now.

Verse 5. "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry."

As Paul said, if you are in Christ, "You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Verse 3).  There is a reasonably certain panic in relation to death, for no one really wants to die.  We tend to cling to ways that are no longer possible for us, and death is the final end for all that we formerly did.  You should read the preceding verses carefully, for if you have trusted in Christ, you are already dead to your old life, but alive in a better one.

Note that "immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed" are identified here as types of idolatry.  The "arts," which includes literature and other forms of entertainment, are full of the impulses named in this verse, and therefore much of what we value in this world is actually a form of "idolatry."  We must prayerfully consider our way of life; what we think, say and do.

Father, You see the way we should go.  We place our trust in You through God the Son, and TRUST that You will bring us through.  We are indeed dead to immorality because we are alive in Christ.  Thank You.  In Jesus Name.  We praise Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 Audio Bible Study - Colossians 3:6-10

Verse 6. "For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,"

As in Verse 5, you may feel "passion" drawing you to "immorality," which is impurity in the sight of God.  He views such feelings as "evil desire" and note that those who give in to them, exhibit "greed" in wanting that which is not theirs. Such motives and actions will deliver your life into the "wrath of God."  The words "passion... immorality... greed," and so on, listed in Verse 5, are the ways of this world.  If you feel and do such things, God, who actually longs to bless you, will place you under His corrective judgment, His "wrath."

"Bad things really DO happen to good people," but there is ENOUGH trouble in the world already - why bring MORE difficulties into your life through bad behavior?  There really IS Judgment for sin, and it WILL be found in eternity, but it's also here right now!  Syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes and HIV are not here by accident!  They're ALLOWED on earth for a purpose - so that we might FINALLY look to the Lord and turn away from the awfulness of sin.  We damage not only ourselves, but also our loved ones, by evil thoughts and bad behavior.

Verse 7. "and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them."

ALL of us involved ourselves in "immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire (and/or) greed" at some point in our lives.  And you might reply, "When did I do THAT? I did NONE of it. I'm a good person!"  And from a human perspective, that might be true.  It's commendable if you have lived a good life.  But God's priorities are higher than ours.  He looks inside of us and even when we decide no one can see our thoughts - He can.

Jesus said if you THINK a sinful thought, you are guilty of that sin in the sight of God.  The angry person is guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-23).  The one who has a thought of lust in their hearts is guilty of adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).  And James said, "whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).  We ALL "once walked" as sinners in the sight of God.  And only the grace of God in Christ can make us whole.

Verse 8. "But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth."

"Put them all aside" was a phrase in the Greek used to describe taking off one set of clothes and putting on another.  We are to be completely CHANGED in Christ Jesus; and for purposes of comparison, examples of the old way of doing things are listed in this verse.  "Anger" in this verse is like the English word "wrath," and the English "wrath" here is the kind of anger that burns up like a sudden fire.  "Malice" is the vicious nature that is bent on doing harm to others.

"Slander" is "blasphemy" in the King James, referring to the person who says something about someone else that is just not true.  "Abusive speech," includes base, obscene, impure and/or shameful words.  We are to stop thinking, acting and talking like the words that are in this verse and the similar actions described in Verse 5.  The old ways are to be put aside in the power and love of God.

Verse 9. "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,"

What is a "lie?"  In the Greek language of the time, it was very much like it is in many languages today - speaking falsely; misrepresenting the truth.  Using words that simply are not true.  "Gossips" often tell a lot of lies.  Jesus is the "truth" (John 14:6).  If He is in us and we are in Him, then His characteristics will emerge in and through us, and the "old self with its evil practices" will begin to fade away.

Have you ever thought about what we call "humor?"  A joke, a statement of irony, a sarcastic comment - it can be fun, and sometimes it can change an angry person into one who laughs.  But like other so-called "conversation," much of what we call "humor" is filled with half-truths - and a half-truth is still a lie.  Often "humor" makes fun of others.  We are to be thoughtful, caring people who think about the feelings of others and pray before we speak.  I like humor and it's a useful tool; but it can also be dangerous.

Verse 10. "and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him-"

The "old self" or "old man" as it is in the King James version of the Bible (Verse 9), is what we were (or are) before trusting in Christ.  We might think, talk, walk, wave our arms around, recite poetry and run marathons - but without Christ we are "dead" in God's estimation.  We may be physically alive, but without Him, we are spiritually dead; no more than animals in the sight of God.

To "put on the new self" starts by trusting in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We accept Him dying on the cross, substituting Himself for the judgment upon OUR sin.  He paid the penalty and we are made alive in Him, in the sight of God, and when He came to life and left that tomb, we came to life and left with Him.  We are given His Holy Spirit, who gives us "true knowledge."  Note that "Christ... is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4).  As a race, we lost that "image." To "put on the new self" is to get Him back.

Father, we surrender all - our thoughts, actions and words.  Come into us, Lord, Jesus, and save us from our sins.  Make us clean, Holy Spirit, forever.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

 Audio Bible Study - Colossians 3:11-15

Verse 11. "a 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."

At the time these verses were written, there was a TREMENDOUS "distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised."  Most of the Jews felt they were good descendents of Abraham, approved by God, and they thought everybody else was lost.  The Greeks (and the Romans who adopted the Greek manner of life) believed they were culturally superior to everyone else, including the Jews.

The Jews relished having the mark of circumcision and the Greeks flaunted the fact that they had no such mark.  The Romans used the term "barbarian" to include anyone who was not a Roman.  Scythia was the name given by the Greeks to a people that lived in an area that now includes the Ukraine.  "Scythian" meant "uncivilized" to the Romans.  "Slave and freeman" were thought at the time to actually be opposite kinds of people.  But we are all ONE in Christ.  When we accept Him as "all and in all," we become ACCEPTABLE in the sight of God, even though our status is not acceptable to others.

Verse 12. "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;"

You may think you chose God, but if you have placed your faith in the Lord, it is actually YOU "who have been chosen of God."  He selected you and it's not really the other way around.  So it is reasonable to thank Him every minute of every day.  He has carefully "chosen" you to be "holy and beloved" in His sight.  To be "holy" is to be set apart for His purposes and "beloved" means that He loves you without limit.

No matter what you have previously thought about your circumstances in life, you should be so STRUCK by HIS love for YOU, that you find "compassion" in your heart for others.  You are loved so much that acts of God's "kindness" will begin to pour out of you into the lives of those around you.  Instead of anger, you're becoming gentle, and you actually have a growing "patience," even for those who do things the way you used to do them.

Verse 13. "bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you."

Without Christ, we find at least some of the people we meet to be - unbearable.  In Him, we find we are "bearing" with people we could not get along with in the past.  And we find we are "forgiving each other" in situations that would have been impossible before.  Do you have "a complaint against anyone?"  Trust in the Lord, for He can do in and through you, what is otherwise impossible.

You do this "just as the Lord forgave YOU."  If you can't forgive others, your problem is that you don't see just how bad you were.  We are all SINNERS and the fact that one of us robs a bank and another only is tempted to steal a pencil from work, does not mean that one is better or worse than the other.  When you trust in the Lord, you are FORGIVEN, and when you really are in Christ, His forgiveness heals you, enabling you to start to be a person who can forgive.

Verse 14. "Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity."

Paul is saying in this verse that love should be closer to us than the clothing we wear.  Honest love, both in heart and in action, is what is most important in life.  Even if you get other things wrong, but have and express God's love, you're doing well.  Peter the Apostle was in complete agreement with Paul.  He said, "above ALL things, have fervent (stretched out) love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).

We in the Church are not "perfect" in "unity," as seen in our separation from one another.  When you look in the telephone book, you'll find a lot of churches.  They have minor differences in doctrine, but the differences seem MAJOR to those who are concerned about them.  Instead of emphasizing differences, we need the "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" found in Verse 12, as summed up by the "put on love" statement in this verse.  We are to be "one" in love, as Jesus prayed for us in John 17:11.

Verse 15. "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful."

The world does not understand the "peace of Christ."  Far too many view God's peace as something like a cessation of hostilities; like a truce that temporarily averts a war.  Jesus said that the "peace" He gives "is not as the world gives" (John 14:27).  And when you have His peace, any anxiety, fear and anger that lives within you will begin to lessen, and ultimately, in eternity, it will be gone.

His peace is first of all, peace with God.  Individually and collectively, we have been at war with God since the beginning of time.  Our earliest ancestors chose their will over His, and their descendants have done the same.  When you truly KNOW you are forgiven, the hostilities are over.  And when people who have peace with God meet, His peace in them will enable them to love one another.

Father, thank You that, no matter who we are, we can be made right with God through Jesus Christ.  Thank You, Lord, for saving us from our sins and enabling us to know Your love, Your peace.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

 Audio Bible Study - Colossians 3:16-20

Verse 16. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

The Bible is a collection of letters, historical accounts, songs, words of wisdom, and prophetic glimpses of the throne and heart of God.  It also shows us - ourselves.  The various portions of it were written separately; but as a whole, it all leads us to Christ.  The Bible is often called the "Word of God," and as in this verse, the "Word of Christ."  In some places, Paul seems to use the word "gospel" synonymously with the "Word of God."

In the 1960's and 70's, as at the time of this verse, a lot of short, beautiful hymns were written and sung, that simply assigned musical notes to various Scriptures.  "The word of Christ richly" dwelled in us.  We were taught Scripture by those songs, and by singing them, we were "admonishing one another," and we sang "with thankfulness in (our) hearts to God."  More of that should be done today.

Verse 17. "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

When you do something, it's important to have the authority to do it.  If you want to represent some great company or a government, you must first be hired by them and then be assigned to a task.  It's like that with our Lord.  If you are going to represent Him, you must first be a part of His kingdom; His family.  And that is only attainable through trusting "in the name of the Lord Jesus."  In Acts 19, we read the interesting account of seven brothers, sons of a Jewish priest named "Sceva," who lived in the area of Ephesus.

The brothers were impressed by the miracles being performed through Christians and they wanted to do miracles themselves.  They tried to cast out a demon from someone, who replied, "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" (Acts 19:15) - and then the demon "wounded" them badly.  The brothers had no authority.  They - like us all - need to receive the Lord personally, and HE will give us assignments "in the name of the Lord" as He chooses.  And since it is HIS "word or deed" (not our own), we reasonably give "thanks through Him to God the Father."

Verse 18. "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord."

(See also Ephesians 5:22).  There is a reason why a Christian wife can safely be “subject to” her husband, and that is because her husband is to love her with the same kind of fervent devotion that Christ had when He died for our sins on the cross (Ephesians 5:25). The Lord’s will for the husband is this: he is to LOVE his wife! There is a problem, however. The husband is a sinner like everybody else and far too many husbands place their own needs ahead of their wives.

Husbands have often become abusers rather than leaders, which has ruined God’s good intention for many marriages. The wife is supposed to follow her husband BECAUSE OF his devotion to God and his love for her. When he does truly and utterly follow the Lord, his wife can begin to follow his lead, because he is finally becoming open to the leading of the Lord for his marriage. He is to love his wife with the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

Verse 19. "Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them."

(See also Ephesians 5:25).  Husbands are to love their wives even to the point of being willing to die for them. The nature of sin in humanity is that we each want to do things OUR WAY.  The typical reason for a husband to marry a wife is because her looks and/or her personality is pleasing to him.  He got HIS WAY, he thinks, and has married her.  He wanted her for himself, but soon discovers that she wants things HER WAY.  Anger comes from this, which leads many husbands to become "embittered" against their wives.

But recognize this: "Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself..." (Ephesians 5:28). Husbands, you are called to "LOVE your wives."  There is no such thing for you as adultery, bigamy, polygamy or other selfishness. Divorce is not for you, and the phrase “until death do us part” is a command for you, “in both sickness and in health.” If she is paralyzed and in a wheelchair, she is yours. If her mind is gone because of Alzheimer’s or her breast was taken due to cancer, she is more than ever the wife you are to "love."

Verse 20. "Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord."

(See also Ephesians 6:1).  People everywhere do NOT want to "be obedient" and we see this in children who don't respond to their parents.  But by obedience to our parents and others, we learn to obey God. We have our OWN plans for today, even if it's to do - nothing!  After all, God might take us in directions we would not have chosen! To obey God is to TRUST Him, but that’s difficult because, through fear, people want to control everything, and we can’t be in control if we give up and let HIM lead us.

God has set up systems in this world in which we MUST learn to obey someone outside of ourselves – which teaches us discipline and allows us to become responsive. We learn to obey God through responding to other people. And we learn leadership the same way. Moses thought he could lead the nation Israel at age 40, but God sent him out to tend sheep until he was 80. Just as Moses learned to lead and obey through herding sheep, you and I can learn to respond to God by obedience to our parents.

Father, let us be thankful to God.  Let us love those who have been placed into our lives, and let us learn to listen and obey.  In Jesus Name.  Help us.  Amen.

 Audio Bible Study - Colossians 3:21-25

Verse 21. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart."

(See also Ephesians 6:4).  So many children, so many families have been ruined by abusive fathers. Many seem to confuse harshness with leadership, and don’t see that constant physical and emotional beatings will not only ruin their children, but also their own lives as well. The phrase, “do not exasperate your children” means that you are NOT to constantly harass your little ones – they need to see that you practice what you tell them. The Lord has called you to love them; "so that they will not lose heart."

If you constantly “preach” at your children, they are likely to “tune you out,” and at the same time learn to only pretend to hear your words. To “not exasperate” your children, to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), includes listening to the Spirit about them, and responding to them as individuals. If you want them to love the Bible, you must love it, too. Note that this verse relates to mothers also, for obviously you raise those children as well.  Discipline is acceptable; abuse is not.

Verse 22. "Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord."

(See also Ephesians 6:5-7).  There were a lot of literal slaves in the ancient culture of the Greek and Roman Empires (probably more than half the population), and that has been the case with many cultures throughout history. Problems arose in connection with the freedom offered in Christ Jesus. What would they do with certain statements of our Lord, such as, “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36)? What is this “freedom” in Christ?

We have been enslaved in our lives by all kinds of negative emotions such as anger, hatred and fear. In Christ, God WILL set you free. He has allowed and even instituted systems on this earth, in which there are bosses ("masters") and workers ("slaves").  The one serves the other, and through that service, he or she learns to serve God.  As Christians, we are to serve those masters not merely with "external service," but "with sincerity of heart." - It may be that our honest, faithful service will bring our "masters" to the Lord.

Verse 23. "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,"

(See also Ephesians 6:7).  Many times we misunderstand what the Lord wants of us.  Sometimes, we have worked for bosses who were cruel to us.  We did our best and then the boss promoted someone else! - his incompetent nephew, of all people!  It broke our hearts and we gradually lost the will to continue.  We perhaps didn't realize it at the time, but our attitude became bad, and then, when the boss fired us it was - the final insult!

The situations into which you and I have been placed in life are not by accident.  And as we see in this verse, we ALWAYS have actually worked "for the Lord rather than for men."  Some human being or company has paid us, but the income really came from God. And so, not only are we to fulfill our employer’s expectations, but exceed them, doing everything “heartily.” The point in this is that your employer needs the Lord, just like you needed Him. Your good works and attitude may be the most effective sermon he or she will ever hear.

Verse 24. "knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."

Let's assume that you did well in school and then succeeded in some kind of occupation.  Respect was given to you and you could go home at the end of the day feeling, "I did a good job."  Being on time at work was no problem because you liked to be there.  You were more than competent and loved your job.  Then the job was gone for one reason or another and the savings accumulated from the past quickly began to disappear.

Next you couldn't get a job "in your field" for you were "over-qualified."  So you have taken a "temporary" job at a third the pay; which is beginning to look like your unfortunate new way of life!  People half your age are in charge of you and they don't like your work.  LOOK UP from your sorrow, "knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance."  It always was and "is the Lord Christ whom you serve."  He will lead you through this time and give you His "inheritance" - forever.

Verse 25. "For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality."

Look over the last few verses.  The Lord gives husbands and wives to one another, that they might learn to love.  Children are given to parents and parents to children for the same reason.  We are to learn obedience, discipline and lasting love for the Lord and other people through the relationships of this earth.  God created life, marriage, the birth-process and He shares His authority with people, so we might be drawn to the Lord and learn to love.

To short-circuit this process through abuse and continuing resentment is to do "wrong" in the sight of God.  And there are "consequences" that come from "the wrong which he (or she) has done."  And we all know about them.  Adultery is likely to bring disease into a marriage that was "safe" before.  Parental abuse produces children who themselves become abusers.  Disgruntled workers can ruin a company, and so on.  And note that God operates "without partiality."  Look at your attitudes.  You can make your life better - through trust in the Lord and reliance upon His Word.

Father, let us love one another, in the power of God.  Let that love show in our actions.  Give us the strength to work and a heart that loves.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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