Life Rooted in Christ - Christ the Center (Col. 3:1-11)
Life Rooted in Christ (1): Christ the Center & Obedience
Colossians 3:1–11 - “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. . . . 5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. . . . put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him — 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”
Put on Christ (vv1-4). Since we are spiritually united with Christ in His death, resurrection and ascension in baptism (Col. 2), we are to see life from that point of view. He contrasts the heavenly (rule) and earthly (slavery) (v2). We have died with Christ through our union with Him (Rom. 6), so the life we live is hidden in Him (Gal. 2:20) (v3). “Christ who is our life...” (v4). This requires a believing mental discipline of knowing God’s Word and recalling it. Take Action: Memorize verses to keep your mind on Christ. Recite truth (like Gal. 2:20, 2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 3:4). Meditate on Christ’s reign over the world. Establish a daily routine of prayer praising Christ’s rule and supremacy.
Put off sin (vv5-8). Setting our minds on Christ leads to repentance and obedience. Paul uses “members of your earthly body” (sacrificial image of body parts) as a more graphic way to say “your person” (e.g., Dt. 6: heart, soul and might). Don’t offer any part of yourself to immorality (porneia), impurity (akatharsia), passion (pathos), evil desire (epithumia) (v5). These are greed-desires for more and more, rather than contentment in Christ alone. Greed is idolatry since it values and appraises something higher than God. These internal desires are paralleled with “expressive” or “reactive” sins: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech which must also be put aside. Take Action: Repent for offering any part of yourself for sin. Identify and confess to the Lord specific sins in your life. Confess sins to whom the truth is due - a spouse, a person you have acted against. Reach out for help from Pastor/elders if you are in pattern of sin, like using pornography, bitterness against others, anger issues.
Put on the new-you (vv9-11). “Don’t lie” (v9) leads directly to putting off the old and on the new “self” (lit. anthropos - man) (v9). Like putting on clothing. We are new Adams and Eves, a new humanity (Eph. 2:15ff) and individually we should dress ourselves as renewed people. This renewal in being the image of God is according to gospel knowledge (v10). This new “self” or “man” is an identity which is more foundational than our culture & heritage, our ethnicity, or our station in life, because Christ is all and in all (v11). The only identity that matters is being “in Christ.” Take Action: See yourself, first and foremost, as a disciple of Christ. Ask WWDCD. Stop feeling pride in your culture, heritage, job, money, right doctrine, intellect, accomplishments, status, or in anything other than Christ.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more