John T. Willis

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dead to the World; Raised with Christ--Colossians 2:20-3:4

Continuing a study of the Book of Colossians, Colossians 2:20-3:4 presents striking contrast between the old way of life in Colossians 2:20-23 and the new way of life in Colossians 3:1-4. Accordingly, this section of the epistle of Colossians falls into two parts naturally.

I. Paul and Timothy describe the old way of life, the way of the world. Colossians 2:20-23.
a. A child of God has "died" to the old way of living, and thus no longer "lives" in the world. Verse 20. It is tempting to hold on to previous thoughts and words and actions. But "with Christ," the old person is "dead."
b. The old way of life is submitting to "regulations"--"regulations" with rules: "Do not handle," "Do not taste," "Do not touch." Paul is NOT AFFIRMING such rules, but REJECTING them and all such ideas. Verse 21. Unfortunately, many individuals and churches are ensnared in the clutches of such "regulations."
1 Timothy 4:3 specifically mentions two such "regulations"--forbid marriage and abstain from foods, and 2 Corinthians 6:17 mentions "do not touch anything." Churches are full of such "regulations." God through Christ rejects all such ideas.
c. Ultimately, these are merely "human" teachings and commandments. See Mark 7:7; Matthew 15:7-10; Titus 1:14. Verse 22.
d. These regulations have "an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body." Through history, so-called Christians have practiced various types of external religious acts, humble practices, flagellation, and the like, Paul and Timothy declare that such things have "no value in checking self-indulgence." True religion is a heart issue, not an external act or series of acts. Verse 23.

II. By way of contrast, Paul and Timothy describe the new way of living. Colossians 3:1-4.
a. Spiritually, in conjunction with baptism, the child of God has been "raised with Christ." Now, this child must "seek the things that are above." While other people on earth look WITHIN, AROUND, or DOWN, God's true people always look UP or ABOVE. The reason for this is where Jesus Christ is. He died and was raised from the dead, and now sits on God's throne at God's right hand. Verse 1. See Mark 12:36; 14:62; Acts 2:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3,
13; 8:1; 10:12-13; 13:2.
b. The child of God is to set his/her mind on things above, not on the earth, which quickly becomes a burden. When one sets his/her mind on things above, he/she is free and envigored. See Philippians 2:2, 5; 3:20-21; Romans 12:1-2. Verse 2.
c. Spiritually, the child of God has "died," and thus "hidden with Christ in God." This calls to mind the old song: "Dead to the world, to voices that call me, living anew obedient and free." Verse 3.
d. After this physical life is over, Christ will be revealed, and God's people will be revealed in glory. Verse 4. This is the hope for all Christians. See 1 Peter 1:3-8.

This spiritual transition from "death" to "life" is a miracle God through Jesus Christ. Rejoice in these thoughts and promises.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOUR. I need YOUR ideas.

John Willis