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.
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.
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.
Paul moves from analyzing the crisis in the church at Colossae to proposing the solution. Since the problem has been caused by the introduction of fine-sounding but deceptive arguments about Christ, the antidote is to re-focus on the genuine article: Jesus Christ the Lord. Paul realizes that this counterfeit picture of Christ jeopardizes both doctrine and practice, so he tells them to continue to walk in Christ, as they had done at the outset. To help them better understand what is needed, he outlines what it looks like to "live in him."
In our last sermon we saw Paul’s passion and purpose to see the Colossian believers become mature in Christ. In this next section we see that Paul’s passion and purpose leads to a problem: the Colossian church is in crisis mode because of deceitful false teachers, and Paul is doing damage control from a distance, but his purpose is to see that they know Christ and are protected against subtle and enticing philosophical heresies.
Having affirmed his hope that the Colossians will persevere in the truths of the gospel, Paul goes on to reveal to the church at Colossae his passion for that very gospel and the purpose and energy it gives to him. And he does not hesitate to mention his sufferings, which are a direct result of his passion for the gospel. But not surprisingly, he readily professes that his hardships do not diminish his passion or divert his purpose related to the gospel of Christ, but instead, he keeps going because he is “in Christ".
Paul concludes his important teaching on God’s reconciliation of sinners to Himself by noting that believers must persevere to the end, remaining established, firm, and unmovable. But this raises the question as to whether Paul is teaching that after we are saved by grace, are we to work to keep our salvation? We will explore Paul’s teaching that Christians are to both persevere in the faith and be sovereignly preserved by God’s gracious work in Christ applied by the Holy Spirit.
After opening his letter with prayer for the Colossians and a concise theological exposition of the Father’s redemptive work in Christ, the apostle Paul turns to doxology. His praise of Christ and his work of redemption and reconciliation takes the form of a hymn which exalts Christ’s supremacy over the creative and redemptive aspects of the universe. The apostle’s poetic exaltation of Christ gives us important insights into who Jesus is and what he is doing.
In our last sermon on Colossians 1, we saw that part of normal Christian life is to give thanks. Today we’ll look at the three specific actions by God that are the foundation for why we are to give thanks. We’ll see that these divine actions are the core of the Christmas story, the story line of Redemption.
We saw last time that Paul prayed persistently that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. He then goes on to explain his purpose for praying that: so that we might live a life that is both worthy of and pleasing to the Lord. We’ll look at the template that Paul provides that helps us to clearly see how we can tell if we are living a life that pleases the Lord.