About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
For Holy Living (ch. 3:1-17)
Paul says here in
verse 1 to set your hearts and your minds on Christ "since you have
been raised with Christ. I
mentioned earlier that we were raised with Christ when we first
believed. We died with Him
in repentance, and we are raised with Him in faith.
This is a difficult issue to grasp.
You can review my comments on this subject in my Romans
commentary, chapter 6, verses 1 to 4.
In brief, Jesus died
on the cross in our place. Therefore,
when God saw Jesus being punished for our sin, in one real sense of the
word God saw all mankind on that cross.
Think of it this way. If
the leader of the
The same is true with the resurrection. If Jesus' death is representative of all our deaths, in like manner, His resurrection is representative of all our resurrections. God not only saw Jesus rising from the dead. He saw all mankind rising from the dead.
encourages us to set our hearts and minds on Christ who is seated at the
right hand of God. Note that
both our hearts and minds must be on Christ.
We cannot separate our hearts from our minds.
I understand that some people are more heart orientated while
others are more intellectually orientated.
It may be hard to keep that balance, but we should try.
Beyond our individual attempts at this balance, the balance
should be clearly evident in the local church community.
There it is easier to maintain balance because in every community
there should be both mind and heart orientated people.
that Jesus sits at the right hand of God as stated by Paul in verse 1.
The term "right hand" in relation to authority in first
century Greek culture did not necessarily mean that one sat at someone's
right hand. It merely meant
that one ruled alongside of another.
God is invisible. He
may not actually have a right hand, or at least a right hand as we know
it. The point to be
made here is that Jesus, right now, rules alongside of God.
now, God and Jesus are in heavenly places.
We need to turn more of our attention away from earthly things
and set our hearts and minds on heavenly things.
should we set our hearts and minds of Jesus?
The answer is in verse 3. "We
have died with Christ". You
can refer back to what I've just said in verse 1 for an understanding of
dying with Jesus.
other reason Paul gives in verse 3 for setting our hearts and minds on
Jesus is that we are hidden in Christ.
The Greek word "kripto" is translated as
"hidden" in this verse. It
means to cover, conceal, or keep secret."
There are a few different ways that people have looked at this.
One general consensus is that God has covered us in the sense
that He protects us. He has
concealed us in a secret place where it is just Him and us.
Some think of this in terms of intimacy.
As in the intimate places where only a husband and wife
experience sexual union, there is an intimate place where God and us
experience a spiritual union that the world does not, or cannot, know.
verse 4 Paul says that "when Christ who is your life, appears, then
you also will appear with Him in glory."
Paul says a couple of things here.
He first says that Christ is our life.
That means that Jesus is the reason for why we now live.
The fact is that if we are dead to sin, really to self, we have
replaced our life with Jesus' life.
This is done when we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives.
We actually have the life of Jesus in us.
also says that when Jesus comes back to the earth a second time, we will
appear with Him in a glorious state of being.
I believe Paul is referring to our resurrected bodies at this
point. This is one verse
that clearly tells us that the saints will return with Jesus when He
returns to earth.
verse 5 Paul tells his readers to put to death or to kill that which
belongs to our sinful nature. This
is pretty violent language Paul is using.
Here is where some confusion lies.
Paul has just told us that we have died with Christ but now he
tells us that we must kill the evil that belongs to our sinful nature.
If we are dead and our life is now Christ's life, why do we have
a sinful nature? Again, this
is hard for us to get our heads around.
You might want to read my commentary on Romans 7 where I speak to
this in detail because it's the subject of the whole chapter.
I believe that our sinful nature is dead, but, as seems to be
what Paul says in Romans 7, our dead sinful nature clings to us, and its
rottenness infects us with sin on a daily basis.
We musts therefore deal with this sin every day of our lives.
I think this is what Paul is saying here.
Once Paul deals with the battle between spirit and flesh in
Romans 7 he turns to the Holy Spirit who lives in us in Romans 8.
As Christians, we do have help in our battle with sin and the
help comes from the Holy Spirit.
lists a number of sins here in verse 5.
Note that lust and greed are listed with adultery.
Christians think of adultery as one bad sin but Paul places lust
and greed in the same boat as adultery.
He actually says that greed is idolatry.
Greed is idol worship. That
which one is greedy for is a god.
first sin is sexual immorality, which is according to the Greek, sexual
intercourse outside of marriage. Impurity
means unclean. This might be
sexual uncleanness, but really, can be any kind of unclean bad
behaviour. From the Greek
word that is translated as "lust", we learn that this lust
simply means a strong desire for either good or evil, although in the
New Testament it is always used in the negative evil sense.
It's my thinking that a good desire that overwhelms us and
becomes predominant in our lives can actually be evil.
For example, there is nothing wrong with a hobby.
We all have things we like to do but if this hobby becomes
addictive, it becomes sin by taking the place of Jesus in your life.
Evil desires here means to covet.
When we covet, we are not satisfied and content.
If we are not content, that means we're not content even with
Jesus in our lives. Having
Jesus should make us content. The
Greek word for "greed" here is similar to the last Greek word
translated as evil desires. It
simply means the addictive desire for more than what we have.
I've always said that there is nothing wrong with desire,
but desire without contentment leads to frustration, and is sin.
I find it interesting that Paul associates greed with
idolatry, although it does make perfect sense.
If you are greedy for something, it tells Jesus that you want
something more than Him. It
tells Him that He alone does not satisfy you.
You want something else in your life to put alongside of Him.
So, in that sense of the word, greed is clearly idolatry.
verse 6 Paul says, "Because of these, the wrath of God is
coming." First of all,
wrath as understood in Biblical terms is severe anger.
It's an uncontrollable outburst of anger.
It's anger to the tenth degree.
God does get angry and He does explode with wrath.
That's a Biblical truth that many these days deny.
The Bible speaks of God's day of wrath.
This is seen in the book of Revelation.
I'm a Prophetic Futurist. This
means I believe the book of Revelation is yet to be fulfilled.
During the last seven years of this age, and especially the last
day of those seven years, God's wrath will be displayed on humanity as
never seen before. It will
culminate at the White Throne Judgment where the wicked nonbelievers are
sent to the
the Day of God's wrath is demonstrated here on earth God does judge the
nations. He causes nations
to both rise and fall as seen in Daniel 2:21.
This judgment is not a demonstration of wrath.
It's just a matter of the Universal Judge making a judgment call
on a nation and sentencing that nation to death.
It's clear to me that our western world is caught up
in the sins that Paul has listed. We
are those who commit adultery. We
are greedy and lustful. Our
whole economic world is based on lust, greed, and instant gratification.
There should be no doubt in our minds that God will deal with our
western nations accordingly. It's
my opinion that He has already begun the process.
verses 7 and8 Paul tells his readers that they used to walk in the sins
of their human nature, but they must not do that any more.
Remember, the Roman world in which these people lived had a
strong yoke over these people. Think
of this. Men were tempted
sexually back then just as much as they are today and I'd say, probably
more. Sexual immorality was
everywhere. It was part of
much of the Greek/Roman religion. Hundred
of prostitutes stood by the temples.
Men would meet up with these male and female prostitutes as an
act of worship. Boys would
grow up in this culture. Leaving
that behind could not have been easy.
adds to his list of sins in verse 8.
They are anger, rage, slander, and filthy language, all sins that
concern our tongue. Of
course, our tongues speak what is in our hearts.
Controlling our tongue is so important for unity, whether it's
family unity or unity in the church.
We do not have to say everything that crosses our minds.
verse 9 Paul says that you "have taken off your old self".
In Greek, this is a one time past action.
Paul is saying that at one time in the past, each one of these
people has laid aside their old nature.
It therefore should have no more rule in their lives.
I said earlier that our old human nature has died but still
clings to us, always bugging us, but here Paul seems to say that we have
actually kicked off the old nature from our backs.
Again, this is hard for us to get our heads around.
If the old nature is dead, if we have pushed it aside, why are we
still tempted to sin. Even
if we have managed to kick it aside, it is close enough to us to have
its rotten, stinking effect on us. All
that being said, it's my understanding from the New Testament that once
we have received the Holy Spirit into our lives, we live for Jesus and
not for self, we do sin from time to time but sin is no longer our Lord.
We serve Jesus. We do
not serve sin, even though we fall into sin from time to time.
verse 9 Paul said that we had set aside our old nature.
In verse 10 he says that we have put on a new nature.
Our new self is being renewed in knowledge of the image of the
Creator. He is saying a
couple of things here. First
of all he is saying that even though we have a new nature, that new
nature is in the process of being renewed.
It should be constantly updated.
This is part of what salvation is all about.
Yes, we did get saved when we first put our trust in Jesus, but
we are also in the process of being saved, or renewed.
Some day, when Jesus returns, we will be fully saved.
also says that knowledge has a role to play in the renewing process.
Part of the process of change, the process of renewing is based
on our knowledge of God, Jesus and His Word.
The influence of Godís word on our minds and our thinking
process goes a long way in us being renewed into something pleasing to
God. This reminds me of what
Paul says in Romans 12:2. He
says that we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Our minds have an important place in working out our salvation.
The problem is that too many of us donít really want to use our
minds. We would simply
prefer to go to the front of the church and have hands laid on us in
prayer, and be magically changed. It
doesn't work that way. Change
is a process that is based on first knowing God and His Word.
Hosea 4:6 tells us that God's people are destroyed because of
their lack of knowledge. This
was true in Old Testament days and it is true in New Testament days.
it comes to real Christians, in verse 10 Paul says that "Christ is
all and in all. Things like
colour of skin, economic status, whether one has been circumcised or not
doesnít matter. As we
gather together as the church, the thing that matters is that we are all
one in Christ. It's a
wonderful place to be in when all races, economic levels, and various
types of people worship and exist together in unity.
It's really what the Body of Christ is all about.
verses 12 and 13 Paul encourages the Colossians, to have loving care for
one another, because they are Godís chosen people.
The fact of the matter is that if God has chosen us then we
should choose each other. We
need to bear with one another, forgive one another, be patient with one
another, and so on. These
things should be done so we can keep the unity in the Body of Christ.
God Himself is a unity. Jesus
prayed for unity among His followers in John 17.
We should do our best to have and maintain unity for the sake of
Note that all of the good qualities that Paul lists
here are qualities seldom taught in modern society.
We're taught to be self assertive.
All the good qualities that Paul lists are just the opposite of
being self assertive. This
doesn't mean that Christians are door mats.
We can stand up for ourselves, and we can especially stand up for
Jesus and the gospel. On the
other hand, as we make our stand we do it in a humble but strong way.
We don't become nasty. We
don't call people nasty names. We
don't rant. We simply,
calmly, but confidently speak what we believe is the truth and let the
chips fall where they may.
idea that we are Godís chosen people is packed with meaning and
controversy. To the Jews of
the day they understood that they were Godís chosen people.
To the Judaizers, Gentile Christians needed to become Jews in
order to become Godís chosen people.
Paul is very adamant on this point.
In many of his letters he stresses the point that those who trust
in Jesus are now Godís people. This
is one of the main themes of the book of Galatians.
tells his readers to forgive your brother as Christ forgave us.
How did Christ forgive us? First
of all, He had to sacrifice His life in order to bring forgiveness to
us. Sacrifice may be
required on our part as well, if we are to forgive others.
There is another point to be made here about forgiveness, and
this may be a little controversial.
Yes, Christ forgave us all, yet this forgiveness is not realized
on our part unless we repent. Without repentance we cannot receive the
benefits of our forgiven state. It thus is clear to me that you cannot
really forgive someone else unless they come with a repentant heart and
want to be forgiven. You can act in a loving way towards someone who has
offended you and does not want to repent, yet this act of love is not
really forgiveness. Forgiveness
is something the offender receives, only after he has repented and
desires to be forgiven. The
word "forgive" means to cancel, as in the cancelation of sin.
If one does not want his sins canceled then he is not forgiven.
Note in verse 13 Paul is not talking about one individual forgiving the offense of another individual. He is talking about two or more individuals mutually forgiving the offense or offenses among themselves. Forgiveness isn't effective unless it is reciprocated. Forgiveness is a two way street, not a one way street. You can extend forgiveness but if it's not received then forgiveness isn't accomplished
verse 14 Paul says that in all the above virtues, meaning forgiveness,
patience, and humility, love binds them all together in perfect unity.
As Christians we should be united.
This is not the case in many areas of the church, but that does
not mean we should not strive for unity that is based on love, which is
the Greek word "agape" here, meaning selfless love.
Selfless love is the only love the Bible really teaches
Christians to live.
Greek word "agape" was an outdated word used in the first
century. I guess no one was
interested in selfless style love. Therefore,
the early church brought this word out of hibernation and used it in
relation to God's kind of love. That's
why many people today call "agape" God's love.
15 says, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, since as
members of one body you were called to peace." Paul
says that peace should be the ruler of our hearts within the Body of
Christ. We are called to be
in a functioning body, which is the church.
For this to work out the way in which God desires, we should live
in peace as much as possible. See also Romans 13:18.
I think we often interpret this verse to say that the peace of
God should be found in our hearts in all we do.
I have heard this verse quoted as a way in which we can confirm
Godís will in our lives. If
peace reigns, then we are in Godís will, yet the context says
differently. Paul is talking
about peace within the community of believers.
He is not talking about having peace in the individual heart to
know God's will. , have
peace in your heart so you can extend it to others
many places in Paul's writings he speaks of the believers being the Body
of Christ. I don't believe
Paul is talking figuratively here. We
are a living body of people in which God lives by His Spirit.
When Jesus left earth God's presence in human form had left the
planet. In Acts 2 His
presence came back to earth by His Spirit coming into the lives of the
believers. So, in one real
sense of the word, the church, is the human body for God to live in.
We, the church, have replaced Jesus on earth.
verse 17 Paul tells the readers of this letter to let the Word of Christ
dwell in you richly. The
Greek word "plousios" is translated as 'richly" in this
verse. This word means
"wealthy, or great abundance".
So the idea here is that the Word of Christ should dwell within
us in great abundance. We
should be rich in the Word of God. Where
can we find the Word of God today? We
find it in the Bible. Therefore,
you can see how important the Bible is for us.
It needs to be in our hearts, our mindís and our lives in great
Greek word "plousios" is also used in the New Testament in
relation to material abundance or wealth. So in the same way we
desire to be rich in this world's goods, we should want to be rick in
spiritual wealth which is a good understanding of the Word of God, the
Paul uses the word "you" here it's a plural you, not a
singular you. That means he
is talking about the Word of the Lord richly living among the community
of believers, something I believe is sadly lacking today.
Of course, for the Word of God to be present in all of its
richness in a corporate sense, it also must be present in a personal
sense as well. If the
individual does possess the Word of God in his heart richly, neither
will the Word of God be seen in its fullness in a corporate sense.
the Word of God dwells in us richly, we can then, with all wisdom teach
and admonish one another. Part
of the reason for the Word of God to be seen richly in the community of
believers is so we can teach and admonish each other.
Teaching, admonishing and even correcting one another is
important in the local church.
A proper working
understanding of Biblical truth gives us much wisdom. Sometimes
we'd rather use Biblical passages to clobber one another over the head
with, but this is not using wisdom. The reason for the wisdom is
to teach and admonish one another to bring greater health to the Body of
Christ. Therefore, the importance of God's word living is us not only is
for our own benefit, but for others as well. We cannot keep this
wisdom to ourselves. I've always said, "The health of the
Body of Christ is as only good as the health of the individual in the
At this point I would
like to insert an article I wrote concerning the importance of the Word
of Christ dwelling within us.
In Colossians 3:16 the
Apostle Paul admonishes his readers by saying, "Let the Word of
Christ dwell in you richly". Before
we can draw any practicalities from what Paul says we need to understand
his words from his frame of reference, not ours.
This takes a bit of grammatical exegesis, something few are
willing to do. The idea that
an intellectual based study of the Bible has no practical use is a
present day myth. Unless we
understand the Bible, historically, culturally, grammatically, and
contextually, we can't derive all of its intended practicalities.
So, dig out your thinking caps and think this verse through with
The subject of any
sentence is a noun. A noun
is a person, place, or thing. The
subject is an important word in a sentence because the sentence is all
about the subject. The
subject of Paul's sentence is the word "Word".
If we are to understand what Paul is saying, we need to know what
"Word" he's thinking of.
Paul tells us what
"Word" he's thinking of by adding the words "of
Christ". He calls the
volume of words spoken by Jesus, which were later recorded in the New
Testament, "the Word of Christ".
Since Jesus and God are one, we must include all God has said
into "the Word of Christ" as well.
Christians understand "the Word of Christ", also known
as "the Word of God", to be the Bible.
There's another important
word in Paul's statement and that's the verb "dwell",
"enoikeo" in Greek. "Enoikeo"
is the verb form of the noun "oikos".
"Oikos" is the Greek word for "house".
Therefore, "enoikeo" means "to house", as in,
"the painting is housed in the art gallery".
When Paul uses this word he's thinking of "the Word of
Christ being housed in us."
For those who are
inclined towards Biblical technicalities, the Greek verb
"enoikeo" is a "present active imperative".
I'll explain that for those who aren't so inclined, but before I
do, I'll say this. Paul
begins his sentence with the word "let".
He says that we must "let", or "allow", the
Word of Christ to dwell in us. This
tells me that it's our responsibility to open the door of our lives to
God's Word. It doesn't
mysteriously drop into our lives out of the blue, and, it certainly
doesn't smash its way through the door of our hearts.
If we don't let God's Word into our lives, it doesn't get in.
As I've said, the Greek
word "enoikeo" is a present active imperative verb.
Don't let that scare you. The
present part of "enoikeo", or "dwell", means it's in
the present tense. Allowing
God's Word to dwell in us isn't a thing of the past or a thing of the
future. It's a thing of the
present. It's a thing of
this exact moment.
part of "enoikeo", or "dwell", means that the Word
of Christ should be actively influencing us.
It's not meant to be a dusty book on a shelf.
It's the cook book of life that provides the recipe to be the
healthy Christian we're meant to be.
That's why Jesus said that man doesn't live by bread alone but by
every word that proceeds from God's mouth. (Matthew 4:4)
"imperative" part of "enoikeo", or
"dwell", means that letting God's Word into our lives isn't
optional. It's an imperative
command; no different from "thou shall not kill" or "thou
shall not commit adultery".
So, the word
"dwell" in English, or "enoikeo" in Greek, is a
present (a present reality) active (actively influencing us) imperative
(command). That's what
"present active imperative" means.
The last important word
in Paul's statement is the word "richly".
Paul isn't speaking of a little bit rich here.
He's speaking of "abundant wealth".
As Bill Gates is financially wealthy, so we're commanded to be
Biblically wealthy. Some of
us struggle financially on a daily basis, but when it comes to being
Biblically rich, especially with all the online Bible tools at our
finger tips, we can bank lots of Biblical wealth.
Paul is commanding us on behalf of Jesus to allow God's Word to
abundantly live within us each and every day.
It should have free rule in our lives, influencing who we are and
what we do. The sad fact of
the matter is that present day statistics show that less than 20% of
those who call themselves Christians in the western world actually read
the Bible. Even fewer study
the Bible to gain an intelligent understanding to live by.
Fewer still allow the Word of Christ to mold who they are and
dictate what they do.
If you're looking for
practicalities from this verse, the practical conclusion is that if you
fail to obey Paul's command, you'll fail to survive the mounting
pressure from our anti-Christ culture to cave into its cultural demands.
The Holy Spirit isn't some kind of magic pill we pop in such
times of need. He works in
association with the Word of God that lives in us, and, if there is
little to no Word of God housed within us, the Holy Spirit has nothing
to work with. He will find
no Scripture within us to direct us, teach us, encourage us, correct us,
or strengthen us.
"Let the Word of
Christ dwell in you richly" is more than a simple Sunday school
verse, and, what I've said is more than a Greek grammar lesson.
It's the means by which we'll escape the satanic cultural
deception of the last days. The
command to allow the Word of God to both live and rule in our lives is a
present day imperative command. For
your own benefit, your own salvation, give the Word of God free access
to mold who you are and dictate what you do.
I now return to my
We also see the Word of
God, the Bible, in terms of singing to God and to one another in verse
16. Singing Bible passages
are a great way to learn the Bible.
Note that we sing both to the Lord and to each other.
When we worship in song we often get this idea confused and all
mixed up. One song we sing
to each other and the next we sing to God, and the next we sing to each
other. Back and forth it
goes. If we seriously
thought of what we were singing, we wouldn't be mixing this up so much.
Remember, when we sing to the Lord, we are really singing to the
Lord. We should sing and
closes this section in verse 17 by saying, "whatever you do,
whether in word or deed, do in the name of the Lord Jesus."
It is important to understand what the name of Jesus means.
It is not simply doing something and saying that you are doing
this or that in Jesusí name. It
is not simply praying and attaching the phrase "in the name of
Jesus" to your prayer. Whenever
you see this phrase used, you must understand that we as Christians are
representatives of Jesus. We
represent His name to the world. When
we work for an employer we must do what he says or else we would get
fired. We must represent our
employer with dignity. The
same applies to our lives with Jesus.
We are employed by Him to work in His Kingdom.
Therefore we must represent Him properly because we bare His
name. This is what doing
things in the name of Jesus really means.
I think that many donít really see this as they should.
They see it as simply adding words to a prayer.
whatever we do, we need to do it with thanksgiving, as if we are doing
it for Jesus, as Paul says here. Paul
uses this word thanksgiving a lot. You
must realize that Paul was a very thankful person, even though he was in
prison as he was dictating these words.