Having provided the Colossian Christians with solutions to their problems and warnings about not taking action against the false teachers, the Apostle Paul now moves to give explicit instructions about how to live the life that is set on things above, not on earthly things. He gives three important commands and supports his instructions with helpful metaphors to show how we are to live the life that is to come now.
Many blessings of the kingdom of God are already ours in Christ. Yet many others will only be fulfilled when He returns in glory. In between His first and second coming, we live in tension between the "already” and the “not yet.” In Luke 17, Jesus teaches us about the coming of His kingdom so that we may have divine assurance that quells our fears, as well as reverent anticipation that guides our lives for His glory.
2 Chronicles 17 tells us that overall, King Jehoshaphat of Judah walked in God’s commandments. In chapter 18, he foolishly and rebelliously followed the path of wicked king Ahab of Israel, but after being rebuked by a prophet, he returned to the ways of the Lord and led the people to do the same. Jesus had no need to return to God, because he always, perfectly walked in the ways of his Father. But far beyond what Jehoshaphat did for his people, Jesus enables us to return to God, so that we might walk by faith and the Spirit in the good works the Father has already prepared for us to do by his grace.
Ingratitude may seem like a minor sin, but it betrays a heart focused on the merit of self rather than the mercy of God. Only one who has known the cleansing grace of Jesus Christ can be transformed from a fault-finder to a thanks-giver through the Savior who gave thanks right up to His crucifixion … and beyond!
Every endeavor has basic principles that are essential for growth and fruitfulness. In Luke 17, Jesus discusses three key areas that His disciples need to be familiar with if they are to follow Him and grow in holiness. By grace, unworthy servants like us may grow in godliness through faith in the only truly worthy Servant, Jesus Christ.
Having diagnosed the danger at Colossae, given the remedy, along with important warnings about the false teachers, Paul turns in chapter three to the practical implications of the teaching he so carefully outlined in the preceding chapters. We will look at three foundational Pauline concepts that help us to understand how to apply the truths of Colossians to our own lives.
Both believers and unbelievers wonder what happens to us after we die. Unbelievers grope in search of answers, frequently turning to the fanciful or the occult. But the Lord Jesus reveals the most important things we need to know about the eternal state: the reality of eternal judgment apart from Him and the promise of eternal grace in Him. Only the One who triumphed over the grave can direct our lives before we die and secure our peace afterward, for the honor of His eternal Name.
Having assessed the problem and prescribed a solution, Paul now gives three warnings to the church at Colossae cautioning them about what will happen if they continue to dabble in the false teachers’ smooth-sounding arguments. His warnings are a good reminder to us to not indulge in human customs or legalism, but to look to Christ, in whom we have been given everything we need for life and godliness.
We typically don’t seek things unless we think we need them and realize they are missing. But the story of King Asa in 2 Chronicles 14-16 teaches us that seeking the Lord should be a constant activity. Even when we don’t think that we need his guidance or deliverance in a particular situation, we always need his fellowship and grace, and he is always worthy of our worship for his own sake. Like Asa, we don’t seek the Lord consistently and exclusively, but he never stops seeking us, to strengthen us and make our hearts more fully committed to him through Christ.
Hebrews 12 says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." No one likes to be rebuked, especially in public, and especially by the Lord Jesus! But Jesus’ rebuke leads to life through repentance and faith in Him. Through the Scriptures, He exposes our sin so that we might grow in His grace.