Therefore… Something Should Change – Colossians 3:12-14 09/06/20

Therefore… Something Should Change – Colossians 3:12-14 09/06/20

The simple reality of human existence is that the one thing we hate the most is the one thing that we cannot prevent; change. This is true regardless of whether you’re a Christian or not; change is going to happen. Knowing that change is inevitable, let’s now examine the kind of change that is supposed to be the experience of every Christian. Our text today is Colossians 3:12-14, which I invite you to look up and think over.

Opening with an introductory imperative, “put on,” this passage stands in contrast to the preceding command to “put off.”[1] But it seems that the use of “put off” and “put on” may have been too abstract.[2] What follows is a list with very specific expectations for Christian living.

We who claim the name of Jesus have experienced His love, and that should, therefore, guide all of our actions as we live out the reality of our new natures.[3] As we do so, we are called upon to actively cultivate virtues consistent with Jesus’ life in us.[4] In Romans 13:14 Paul sums up the list of characteristics by simply telling us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”[5]

Now, there’s a side detail that we’re not going to take the time to address in this blog, that is the expression, “the elect of God.” I’ll briefly address this during the sermon on Sunday, so if you are curious I invite you to come for the Sunday message.

However, because we who follow Jesus are “the elect,” beloved of God and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, there are some changes that should be reflected in our lives.[6] Now, if you’re paying attention, you will notice that these characteristics of the new man look an awful lot like the fruit of the Spirit.[7] Compare Colossians 3:12-14 with Galatians 5:22-23. The similarities are not accidental.

The fact is that the emphasis in our passage is not on the individual traits at all, rather it is through these things collectively that the new man reveals his identity.[8] The catch is this; we’re incapable of producing these characteristics in our lives.[9] They’re only present to the degree that we cast ourselves upon the Lord Jesus and live under His direction through the enabling of His Spirit who is dwelling within us.[10]

Each of these traits are expressions of Christian love.[11] We’re now introduced to five virtues that we are supposed to “put on.”[12] But here’s the catch, these are such that you know the reality of this, or the lack thereof, by how you react when your equilibrium has been upset.[13] These qualities are predicated on our lives lived by faith as Christ lives through us.[14] (Now, by way of truth in advertising, I confess to you that I am not mature enough in Jesus to consistently live this kind of life. That does not change the fact that this is what I find in Scripture regarding what my life is SUPPOSED to look like. I’m still in process too.)

There will always be people who are going to offend us, even deeply wrong us.[15] And yet, in light of the forgiveness we’ve received through Jesus Christ, we should certainly be willing to forgive others.[16] Our love for, and value of, others should leave us willing to overlook the offense.[17]

You should spend some time looking through the various traits that are supposed to be the mark of the Christian, but in Colossians 3:14 you come to the crowning grace.[18] That grace is love, but as with all of Christianity, this is not something generated from our own internal resources. It is God’s love expressed toward us that we now reflect to those around us. 1 John 4:10-11 gives us the straight scoop on this. God’s love for us is presupposed as the basis for the mutual love shared between Jesus’ followers.[19] Love is the culmination of these commands.[20] And… it is Christ’s self-sacrifice that most clearly demonstrates this kind of love.[21]

No definition of the word “love” (αγαπε) is going to adequately convey the love our passage speaks of. It’s best understood by example. God doesn’t just say that He loves us, He shows us what that love is like, Romans 5:8-9, among other places is an example of this kind of love.

Each of these traits are impossible for us, but overshadowing these impossible characteristics the most impossible one. We are to “put on love.”[22] Each of the other traits that we’re supposed to demonstrate is nothing less than a manifestation of Christian love.[23]

All of this is nothing less than a manifestation of holiness in the mess of human living. This holiness isn’t some clean and therefore isolated holiness cloistered away in some monastery, it is holiness in the rough and tumble of human relationships.[24] It is in vital fellowship that we’re called upon to allow Jesus to love those around us… through us.[25] We’re called to true holiness, which is the natural byproduct of living in Christ.[26]

[1] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.:1982), 195. [2] Ralph Martin, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed., James Luther, NT ed., Paul Achtemeier, (John Knox Press, Louisville, KY.: 1991), 124. [3] Eduard Lohse, A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 146. [4] Ralph Martin, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed., James Luther, NT ed., Paul Achtemeier, (John Knox Press, Louisville, KY.: 1991), 125. [5] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1984), 152. [6] Curtis Vaughan, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 214. [7] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 359. [8] Eduard Lohse, A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 146. [9] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 359. [10] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 359. [11] Curtis Vaughan, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 214. [12] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.:1982), 198. [13] Ralph Martin, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed., James Luther, NT ed., Paul Achtemeier, (John Knox Press, Louisville, KY.: 1991), 125. [14] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.:1982), 197. [15] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 359. [16] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 359. [17] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 231. [18] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.:1982), 203. [19] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1984), 156. [20] Eduard Lohse, A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 148. [21] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 232. [22] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 360. [23] Curtis Vaughan, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 215. [24] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.:1982), 204. [25] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.:1982), 204. [26] Earle Wilson, Alex Deasley, and Barry Callen, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, Wesleyan Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. Ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2007), 338.

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