Colossians 3:12-13 - Chosen, Changed, and Charged
Happy Palm Sunday everyone! As the video just showed - the people rejoiced at Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. They had in mind a different kind of leader than the servant leader He came to be. They wanted Him to dominate and conquer. Although His second coming will be just that, His first coming was not for that purpose. It was to be a servant to many. It was to pay the substitutionary death on our behalf. He took our sins on the cross. Next week we will be celebrating Easter Sunday - or better said - Resurrection Sunday! We hope that you join us for this wonderful celebration. Invite your friends and family as we celebrate the freedom that Christ has offered us through His death and resurrection! We can be forgiven of our sins and be given a new life in Christ. There is no better news in the universe than that!
However, today we are going to be back in the book of Colossians discussing some of the qualities that Jesus expressed perfectly during His earthly life and that He calls and commands us to follow as well.
Join me as we read God’s Word:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Let us pray.
Today we are going to discuss three important realities for believers in Christ.
I. Believers in Christ Are… Chosen (12b)
I. Believers in Christ Are… Chosen (12b)
Colossians 3:12b (ESV)
...as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved...
God’s chosen ones. This is quite a statement. This speaks of God’s election of His people. In fact, the word election in a doctrinal sense actually means literally God’s chosen ones.
I understand that God’s sovereign election can be a difficult subject for many people. I think that this difficulty has stemmed from teachings that have not given a clearly expansive Biblical view of election - meaning certain verses are exalted at the expense of others. We must take the entire Scripture in order to understand a difficult theology such as election and predestination. Our church takes a strong stance on God’s sovereignty and election. Our God is omnipotent meaning He is all powerful. He is omnipresent - meaning that He is not only everywhere at once - He is at every time at once. He is not limited by time or space. And He is omniscient. Meaning that He knows everything.
Omnipresent: everywhere and every time at once
We never want to minimize the power of God. Our God does what He wants to do when He wants to do it.
Yet, here at CrossPointe, we also take a strong stance that man has a responsibility to respond to God’s drawing. We see that no one can be saved unless God draws them:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
And further, we see God promise to draw all people:
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Obviously He doesn’t draw all people at all times however. But He does promise to draw all people.
Moving forward though, we see that the Bible is clear that no one is actually a seeker after God.
no one understands; no one seeks for God.
So those who are open to the Gospel are those whom the Spirit of God is drawing.
So what are we to do with this exposition? We are to understand that our job is to share the Gospel with all. Those who repent and are saved after hearing us present the Gospel are the ones that God was already drawing and the ones who humbled themselves before Him. The blessing of this fact is that our only job is to share the Gospel. The outcome is the Lord’s.
So how are we to understand the idea that we are God’s chosen people as believers? How these two distinct truth’s of Scripture (God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility) play out in eternity is beyond our understanding. But in the case of this Scripture today, may we rejoice in the fact that we are God’s chosen ones if we are in Christ. We are holy and beloved. Our sins are covered by Jesus Christ and we are justified by His blood.
And the beauty of being God’s chosen ones is that we know that God didn’t choose us because of how great we were. As we saw in Romans 3:11 - none of us were seeking him. In this same section of Scripture Paul asserts that no one is even good. We are given some insight into the mind of God as he speaks to Moses in Deuteronomy 7:7-8
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
God let’s Moses know that it wasn’t because they were an amazing group of people, or a powerful group of people, or a people with such promising qualities that He chose them. He chose them out of love for them and to glorify Himself. And He chooses us because of love for us and His desire to glorify Himself through us. We cannot earn salvation by our works and we do not maintain it by our works.
Once we are believers, he sets us apart as holy and beloved. And He goes to work in us, on us, and through us.
As a believer in Christ you are chosen. Next we see that...
Scripture References: John 6:44, John 12:32, Romans 3:11, Deuteronomy 7:7-8
II. Believers in Christ Are… Changed (12a,c)
II. Believers in Christ Are… Changed (12a,c)
Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
Put on then... compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Put on then - In the exact opposite fashion of the put off’s and put to death that we saw in the last few verses of chapter 3, we come to a put on. We have just finished discussing putting off the old life with its evil desires and evil thoughts like a set of old and worn out clothes. We have discussed putting off anger and wrath, malice and slander, obscene talk and lying. It is of the utmost importance that we do put off our old sinful ways. Yet, it is just as important that we replace those sinful ways with godly ways. It is important that we put on what is righteous.
So Paul gives us yet another list of things here. Whereas the last couple of lists were things to take off - meaning sinful ways. Here are five things to put on:
1. Put on Compassionate Hearts
We see this also described as tender mercies. We are to be kindhearted and sympathetic to others. Those with compassionate hearts are ready and willing to share what they have with others. They assume the best in others. They have a concern for and a ready and willing hand to care for those in need.
Next we are to:
2. Put on Kindness
Kindness is very similar to compassion. Whereas compassion may refer more to what someone does for others, kindness refers moreso to someone’s affect or disposition toward others.
God is referred to as kind Luke 6:35:
Luke 6:35b (ESV)
...for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Here we see God’s kindness through salvation.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
While we were enemies of God, He died for us. My friends, this is an amazing Word. The Bible teaches that if you are not a believer then you are actually an enemy of God. If you are not in Christ then you are of Satan. You might not worship Satan actively, but your heart is the heart that he has. It is a heart in rebellion against your Creator. Yet even while we are enemies of Christ, He died for us. He took our sin on the cross and paid the penalty we deserved. What amazing kindness He shows us. His disposition toward us is one of kindness that leads us toward repentance. Respond to His kindness brothers and sisters. If you have not responded in faith by putting your trust in Christ alone for salvation - I pray you do that today. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Repent, or turn away from your sins, and turn toward Christ for forgiveness.
Third, we are to:
3. Put on Humility
Humility is probably the highest of Christian virtues. Salvation of man required the Son of God to humble Himself to be obedient even to death on the cross (Phil 2:8). And humility is required in order for one to be saved. After God draws a man or woman, they must be willing to humble themselves before the Lord and repent of their sins and hand over the reigns of their life to their Savior. This humility is costly. It costs you your life. At least your old life. The sinful ways we have mentioned over the past couple of weeks must be dealt with and handed over. The old self is removed and cast away and the new self is given to you in Christ. You are born again as a new creation.
This humility should continue to express itself in the life of a believer. The believer should not think poorly of themself or put themself down time and time again. That is false humility. It is still self-focused. A believer should express humility in thinking of God first and then others second before themselves.
Humility is the opposite of pride. Pride seeks to build one’s own kingdom. Humility seeks to build the kingdom of God.
4. Put on Meekness
Meekness is the same as gentleness. Sometimes words like this get a bad rap in the church when it comes to men. Men seem to side with guys like the legendary coach Bobby Knight who once said of Jesus’ beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5:
“The meek may well inherit the earth, but they rarely get rebounds!”
Many men see meekness and gentleness as weakness or even laziness.
Yet the Bible is clear that Jesus was meek.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
This word gentle in Matthew is just the adjective form of the exact same word mentioned here in Colossians 3:12 translated as meekness.
It is clear that being gentle and meek takes a tougher and bigger man or woman. I am a good sized fella. There have been many times when people smaller than me have really pushed my buttons - especially growing up in sports! Would it make me more of a man if I pounded someone half my size because they offended me? Absolutely not. It takes much more strength to restrain myself and continue to be meek even when my flesh wants to do the opposite.
I am by no means arguing for a pacifist mentality. There are times that we must fight for our families and country. However, the majority of the time we should be known as meek and gentle and follow after our Savior’s leading.
Finally, we are to...
5. Put on Patience
Chris Williams asked me for a difficult prayer request last week. Patience! I questioned him of whether he really wanted me to pray for that as we can only know that we have patience if it is being tested! He graciously maintained his request!
I think that patience is possibly the most difficult thing to put on in this list! If comparing all of these put on’s to clothes like the direct metaphor suggests.. I would compare putting on patience to something like putting on skinny jeans. It’s gotta be pretty tough! Don’t worry - I do not plan on putting on skinny jeans any time soon. I know the hipster pastors out there roll like that but I don’t think ya’ll need to see this much man trying to squeeze into that small amount of denim. Yet I digress...
The word translated patience here literally means long-suffering or long-tempered. We speak of someone having a short fuse - meaning that they seem to blow up and get angry really easily. This is speaking of someone who has an extremely long fuse and is able to handle much stress without blowing their top.
William Barclay in his commentary of Colossians said:
“This is the spirit which never loses its patience with its fellow-men. Their foolishness and their unteachability never drive it to cynicism or despair; their insults and their ill-treatment never drive it to bitterness or wrath”
When others are foolish or not teachable - when others hurl insults and treat people poorly - it is hard to be patient!
There is a reason why this along with kindness and gentleness are called fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. It is because without the Holy Spirit we aren’t gonna be bearing fruit like this!
That is the summary of this second point of the sermon. Believers in Christ are changed. This means that we are born again and given the Holy Spirit to indwell us and help us put on these Christian virtues. It is only by the power of God that we can put on any of these!
Finally we see that...
Scripture References: Luke 6:35, Romans 5:10, Philippians 2:8, Matthew 11:29, Galatians 5:22-23
III. Believers in Christ Are… Charged (13)
III. Believers in Christ Are… Charged (13)
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
I love this phrase bearing with one another. It literally means enduring or putting up with one another. Isn’t this convenient and well placed that it comes right after patience! Paul is pretty much saying here that you need to put on patience and all of the preceeding things in order to put up with other people!
Paul understands that people are inherently sinful and difficult to do life with. Although this should definitely improve in the life of believers, the sinful flesh is still there as we discussed last week.
As we bear with one another, we are nevertheless going to sin against one another. We are going to have complaints against one another. So what are we to do with these grievances that we might have against one another?
Well we don’t brush them under the rug and ignore them. But we also don’t shout them from the rooftops and start a civil war.
Paul gives us the grounds for what we are to do by bringing up what has been done for us.
We are admonished to forgive one another. Why should we forgive others when they sin against us? Because Christ forgave us. This is actually a mandate and command that is given. It isn’t an option to forgive or not. We are to forgive.
Forgiveness is a difficult practice to understand. In order to practice forgiveness correctly as a believer, you must understand what the Scripture teaches about it.
1. Forgiveness is a Mandated Command
We just saw this in Colossians 3:13. We are commanded to forgive because Christ forgave us.
2. Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean Forgetting
Someone just thought of Jeremiah 31:34
Jeremiah 31:34b (ESV)
...For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Aha! Got you there Pastor! And obviously I have mentioned that He casts or sins as far as the east is from the west many times as well (Psalm 103:12).
Sam Storms in his commentary on Colossians makes an excellent statement to help us understand this passage in Jeremiah:
“This language of the prophet is a metaphor, a word picture, designed to emphasize God’s gracious determination and resolve not to hold us liable for our sin. He has canceled the debt and will never demand payment...
If God could literally forget, it would undermine the truth of his omniscience. God always has and always will know all things, but he has promised never to use our sin against us or treat us as if the reality of our sin were present in his mind.”
God chooses not to hold our sins against us. He acts as if they never happened.
In the same way, when we forgive someone else - we may still remember what that person did. Yet we need to be merciful toward them and not continue to hold their sin against them. Christ has forgiven you and thus you should forgive others in the same way.
3. Forgiveness Doesn’t Always Mean Restoration of a Similar Relationship
Sometimes when we forgive, the other person isn’t repentant and refuses to reconcile. As Jesus teaches, it is our job to go to the person who has sinned against us and humbly confront them regarding the sin. Matthew 18:15-20 goes into detail about how to handle when someone sins against you in a Biblical way. I would suggest everyone understand how to Biblically confront sin by studying Jesus’ words in this Scripture.
In these cases we are still to forgive but we cannot be fully reconciled because there is unrepentant sin. Unrepentant sin hinders relationships. We must set healthy boundaries in situations such as this and pray that Holy Spirit convicts the other person regarding their hardened heart as go through the proper channels in the church to seek reconciliation.
For even further clarification - in the case with more life-altering sins (I hesitate to call these bigger sins because all sin leads to death however some sins come with greater consequences and are worse in depth and evil) - even after repentance and forgiveness the relationship may not very well be restored to normal. It should be reconciled but there may need to be some boundaries laid at least for a time.
4. Forgiveness Withheld is a Two-Way Street
A particularly convicting teaching that is repeated in the New Testament is found in the Words of Jesus:
but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We must be willing to forgive others. If we are not willing to forgive others it shows that we haven’t truly been forgiven.
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
If you are slow to forgive it means that you are prideful. You do not see yourself as someone who has been forgiven much. If you are in Christ, you have been forgiven much. Christ took your place on the cross and took your punishment. And He commands that you forgive others as He has forgiven you.
So an unforgiving heart is a sign that you may very well not be forgiven yourself. If you have unforgiveness in your heart, repent and turn from this and allow Christ to completely forgive you as well.
5. Forgiveness Always Means Freedom
When we are obedient to Christ by forgiving others, we are free from the bitterness that unforgiveness brings.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
In a similar command we were given here in Colossians 3, Paul expounds on this idea in another one of His letters here in Ephesus. We need to put away bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander. We saw similar words earlier in our study of Colossians 3:8. By putting these things away through forgiveness we are able to experience freedom in Christ.
Bitterness robs a person of joy in life. Forgiveness breaks those bonds off.
We, as believers in Christ are charged to forgive others.
Scripture References: Jeremiah 31:34, Psalm 103:12, Matthew 18:15-20, Matthew 6:15, Luke 7:47, Ephesians 4:31-32, Colossians 3:8
As we come to a close, I pray that you remember that if you are a believer in Christ you are chosen. This is such a wonderful blessing. But because you are chosen you are set apart as holy and beloved. Christ doesn’t just leave you where you are. He changes you through the working of the Holy Spirit and charges you to forgive others as He has forgiven you. I pray that as you prepare for Easter week, that you spend time thanking Christ for saving your soul and forgiving you.
If you are not a believer, I would love to chat with you after the service and tell you more about what it means to be a believer in and follower of Christ. And if you struggle with unforgiveness, I would love to help walk you through freedom in Christ.
Let us pray.
If you would like to learn more about salvation through Jesus Christ or want to obey Jesus by obeying the first commandment of a believer in going through the waters of baptism - please let me know.
Have a blessed week.