Today’s Reading: Colossians 2:16-3:11
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you ALIVE WITH CHRIST, for he forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. – Colossians 2:13-14
You have DIED WITH CHRIST, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. – Colossians 2:20a
Because we died with Christ, we are alive with Christ! I know we have heard this before but let’s consider, as if for the first time, that we have DIED WITH CHRIST and that, by his death, He has set us free! The old you is gone. That person who was a slave to sin is no longer who you are. You are a new creation who can now live in the freedom Christ purchased on the cross.
Knowing with whom we have died, Paul warns God’s holy people that there will be many “empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense that comes from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ” (2:8). Wow, no argument there! We are surrounded by a way of thinking that is slowly slipping its way into the Church. It is easy to avoid the crazier theories floating around but what about the deceptive ways of thinking that resemble what we have been taught but twist the truth? We need to be alert to the influence of the world when we begin to soften our stance on the things the Bible defines as sin.
Paul also says to beware of the tendency to serve a set of rules rather than walk into the relationship God plans for us, out of which holiness develops (2:16-19). When Christ is in us and we are walking in relationship with Him, the change in our life is a result of HIS righteousness, rather than a claim to our own self-righteousness. How easy it is to fall into this pride trap!
Legalism requires a strong devotion to a set of rules and provides no help in conquering our evil desires (2:23, NLT) – it produces false humility and lacks value in restraining sensual indulgence (NIV). Or as The Message rewords it, it’s “just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important.” That reminds me of verses we recently read in Galatians.
Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right by obeying the law…
My old self has been CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. – Galatians 2:16, 20-21
But Christ did die and we are ALIVE WITH CHRIST because we DIED WITH CHRIST. He has set us free from sin, free from all the world wants to enslave us with. The world would like to steal the riches we have found in Christ and rob us of our hope of glory, which is Christ in you (Col. 1:27). Let’s continue to LIVE IN CHRIST, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness (2:6-7).
A few of years ago, I read the book Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. The concepts in the book are based on the foundational idea that endings are a normal and necessary part of life. Jobs, friendships, people, places, projects, programs, interests – all serve a purpose for a season in our life and it is natural for something that was once “the new” to eventually become “the old.”
Paul refers to necessary endings in Colossians 3 – we are ALIVE IN CHRIST because we DIED WITH CHRIST and then we are RAISED WITH CHRIST to a new life. It is necessary for us to die to the old life in order for us to find our real life, which is hidden with Christ in God (3:3). Letting go of our old life could mean putting to death some old sinful habits (Paul has a whole list of examples in 3:5-9) or releasing control of our lives and the plans we had made in order to follow God’s plan.
This real life takes form as we get to know our Creator and become like him. We are renewed and given a new nature, but we must also let go of the old in order to fully experience the new. In this new life, Christ is all that matters – we must focus on him and his plan for our lives, putting aside our own plans and desires. It is when we allow Christ to live in us and change us that we truly experience His sanctifying work in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin but servants of God.
This is consistent with what we have been studying all week in Colossians.
And now, just as you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, you must continue to follow HIM. Let your roots grow down into HIM, and let your lives be built on HIM. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. – Colossians 2:6-7
As Paul said in Colossians 3:11b: “Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” And there is no necessary ending to this fact. God will never change. Even when we are surrounded by changes in life or experiencing changes in our own hearts, He is consistent and He is faithful. We can trust Him through life’s necessary endings.