Colossians 3:1-17 - Hidden With Christ in God

Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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I recently listened to Robert Lewis Stevens’ novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One of the central themes of the novel has to do with the issue of identity. The basic plot is that the renowned doctor Henry Jekyll has found a way to chemically isolate the wicked part of his personality so that whenever he drinks a particular potion his body transforms into Edward Hyde. Whenever Jekyll transforms into Hyde he does all sorts of unspeakable things and his wicked nature has free reign.
At first, Jekyll believes that he has found a way to deal with the wicked parts of his personality. He can transform into another person and not have to deal with any of the consequences of his actions when he transforms back into Dr. Jekyll. However, as the story continues, it becomes clear that the more Dr. Jekyll transforms into Mr. Hyde, the more the sinister personality begins to take over and no amount of anecdote can solve the issue.
In Colossians 3 issues of identity are also front and center. An interesting parallel between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the letters of Paul is that they seem to agree on the issue of human evil. There is nothing that can deal with human evil other than death. The difference is that Paul claims a death has occured that deals with human evil, the death of Christ. He goes to great pains to tell Christians over and over to consider themselves dead to their old selves and to reckon themselves alive in Christ.
Because you have been raised with Christ you are to put to death all that remains of your old self and put on Christ. Central to this is the Christian habit of gratitude toward God.

The Things that Are Above (vv. 1-4)

NASB - Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to...
Jesus is raised to the right hand of God and we are/will:
Verse 3 - Died with Christ
Verses 1 - Raised with Christ (Eph 2:6)
Verse 3 - Hidden with Christ
“Hold a shield over”
Verse 4 - Appear with him in glory
How do you see yourself?
A helpful illustration that I came across in my studies this week was that of a sculptor working with a block of granite or some other type of stone. The sculptor sees the final product while the onlooker might only see an unruly block of misshapen stone.
Paul wants the Colossians to reckon themselves dead to their old selves, raised with Christ, hidden in Christ and destined to appear with Christ in glory.
Paul tells the Colossians to “seek” and “set their minds” on things that are above. In the next two sections Paul will practically show the Colossians how they are to do just that.

Put the Earthly to Death (vv. 5-11)

Paul begins his practical instruction by telling the Colossians what they are to “put to death”
Paul is setting up a dichotomy between “earthly” and “heavenly” in these verses.
Not gnostic opposition to “physical” but things that are associated with sinful humanity.
Sins go together
We like to isolate our sins but the NT authors often group them together b/c they are all rebellion against God!
“sins are like grapes, and come in bunches...The writers of the New Testament place sins together in so many ‘lists,’ not because they had a strange passion for categorization, but because the sins go together. Whenever any frame of mind which resists God is tolerated, the logic of that position will work out into resistance across the board” – Wilson, Fidelity
Sexual sin foregrounded » easily attaches to identity (Paul’s concern) (v. 5)
All sins subsumed in covetousness » Greed that drives
Behind all these sins is idolatry » service to false masters other than the one true God
Sins of the mouth are foregrounded (v. 8-11)
Matt. 15:17-19 – Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person.
We are to follow our words back to their source in the heart and ask the great surgeon of hearts, Jesus Christ, to heal us of our sickness.
Don’t lie to one another
Paul is always very concerned with division in the church
Lying is part of the old self
The Colossians have put on a new self (Christ)
All divisions are put away in Christ (v. 11)
Sin and judgement
vv. 4 & 6 – two visions of judgement
Christ and his people appearing in glory on the last day
The wrath of God coming against sins such as these
Paul is reminding the Colossians of their former way of life
This is how they once walked, but they should walk like this no more.
Now they should walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
How do you practically put sin to death?
Means of Grace - Sunday Worship, prayer, Bible study, fellowship with Christians, confession of sin, forgiveness
Take practical measures - We are creatures and we are finite. We should not think too highly of ourselves. There is a difference between what is lawful and what is wise. Sometimes wisdom calls us to avoid situations that are lawful.
Be thankful (vv. 15c-17)
All of this putting sin to death and putting Christ on corresponds to a spirit of thanksgiving in the writing of Paul.
Specifically we are to give thanks by letting God’s word dwell in us richly in song and do everything we do in the name of the Lord.
Illustration - Car insurance jingles dwell in us richly.
Paul typically discusses practical matters from both the negative and positive perspectives. This section of Colossians is no different. We’ve just considered Paul’s negative instructions, now we look at his positive instructions.

Put on Christ (vv. 12-17)

Simplicity of seeking the things that are above
Put on “Compassionate Hearts” - Fruit of the Spirit
Phil 2:1-7 – So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Unlike lying to one another, the church is to bear with one another and forgive one another (Lord’s Prayer)
Put on Love
1 Pet 4:8 – Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Love brings harmony » Christ reconciles all things to himself » putting on love = putting on Christ
Many theologians have found great significance in music and how it corresponds to reality. In music, notes are either in harmony with one another or they are in discord with one another. You can hear when a guitar is out of tune and when it is playing harmonious chords. The unity that is heard in harmony comes from diversity. The church, just like beautiful music, is supposed to display a unity
Peace of Christ rule » One body
Phil 4:7 - And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


To conclude, I want to draw your attention to the very final verse of our passage which we mentioned briefly already. Verse 17 states, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
One of the way Paul describes Christians in his second letter to the Corinthians is as “ambassadors” (2 Co 5:20). An ambassador does not speak or act on their own behalf but on behalf of the one who they represent. The mystery of grace is not only that Christ represents us to the Father, but also that we represent Christ to the world. Our lives are not our own, our stuff is not our own, out time is not our own. All of these are given to us by God in order that we might steward them in the name of the Lord Jesus.
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