Faithlife Sermons

The Characteristics of Christ

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 4 views

We must put on the characteristics of Christ as the people of Christ by the power of Christ for the glory of Christ.

Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Introduction

Good morning, Living Grace.
Thank you, Jonny, for leading us in worship this morning.
It’s an incredible thing to be preaching this morning with Jonny leading us in worship. Jonny and I met back in 6th grade and were practically inseparable until the end of High School.
It’s remarkable to see how faithful God has been to the prayers that our parents prayed for us over the years and it’s incredibly humbling to see how powerful the transforming power of Christ really is. To see how God has worked in the lives of so many of the young men and women that I grew up with - to see them casting aside their old selves and living new lives in service to Christ - is absolutely incredible. I’m so thankful for what He has done in our lives.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Alex Lawson and I am the Pastoral Intern here at Living Grace. You may not have known you had a pastoral intern, but you do, so I look forward to meeting more and more of you over the next year and a half.
Brian Murphy has been training me and leading me through a two-year course of study through XL ministries in preparation for pastoral ministry and we’re about 6 months in, so it’s an honor and a privilege to be charged with preaching the Word of God to you this morning - specifically, chapter 3 in the book of Colossians.
So, if you have your Bibles with you this morning please turn to the book of Colossians, chapter 3, verses 12-17.

The Big Idea

That transformative power I spoke of earlier will be the subject of our study this morning - that power that Christ uses to take selfish, broken, sinful people and mold them - transform them - into a new creation; into a new people, devoted to the glory of God and the honor of His name; into one, unified body: the Church..
We’ll see that transformative power here in Colossians and, specifically, we’ll see four things: we are called to (1) put on the characteristics of Christ (2) as the people of Christ (3) by the power of Christ (4) for the glory of Christ.
.
I’ll say that one more time so that you can understand where we’re going today with this text:
We must put on the characteristics of Christ as the people of Christ by the power of Christ for the glory of Christ.
Let’s turn our attention, now, to today’s text:

Read the Text

Colossians 3:12–17 ESV
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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Out with the Old and In with the New

1: We must put on the characteristics of Christ

Paul begins this instruction with language that alludes to putting on clothing. In fact, the exact language he uses refers to these characteristics as garments: “Put on… compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, etc...”
Compassionate Hearts
This makes sense considering the imagery that Paul uses earlier in verses 9 and 10, where he says:
Colossians 3:9–10 ESV
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Additionally, we see in other texts from the Apostle Paul the idea that those who belong to Jesus have been given new lives and have been transformed into new creatures.
Take, for example,
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Or, even closer to home in this text,
Clearly, Paul is telling us by way of the Colossian church that we are to put away the characteristics that belong to our old life - the life that we lived before Christ - and put on the characteristics that belong to our new life in Christ.

Transition

What then are these characteristics? What are the characteristics which belong to our old lives? And what are these new characteristics which belong to our new lives in Christ - these new garments which we are called to put on as new creatures in Christ?
Let’s turn our attention first to the new characteristics - or new garments - that we are called to put on as new creatures born again in Christ.

#1: We must put on the characteristics of Christ

Compassionate Hearts
Compassionate Hearts
We find this list of new characteristics - or new garments for new creatures - in verse 12, beginning with:

Compassionate Hearts

Compassionate Hearts
We could define compassion as a sort of deep-seated awareness and sympathy toward the sufferings or circumstances of other people.
Interestingly, this word in Greek is often translated to the English word mercy. Some of you might see this word in your King James or New King James bibles translated as mercies or as tender mercies. This is because often when Paul uses this word he is, in fact, referring to the compassion of God.
Romans 12:1 ESV
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Corinthians 1:3 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
We are called to put on compassionate hearts and to have a deep-seated awareness and sympathy toward the sufferings or circumstances of other people - just as Christ came and died for us, having mercy and compassion upon us.
Hebrews 10:28 ESV
Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
We are called to put on compassionate hearts and to have a deep-seated awareness and sympathy toward the sufferings or circumstances of other people.

Next we have Kindness

We might define kindness as the quality of being warmhearted, considerate, gentle, and sympathetic.
Every time but once, Paul uses this word in reference to a gentle, sympathetic kindness - especially the kindness that God shows to us.
Romans 2:4 ESV
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Ephesians 2:7 ESV
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
eph
Titus 3:4–5 ESV
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
We are called to put on the same sort of kindness that God has shown to us by sending His only begotten Son to die in our place and pay the penalty for our sin.

Next, we come to Humility

Humility we can define as the disposition of valuing or assessing oneself appropriately - especially in light of one’s sinfulness or creatureliness
Paul explains that Jesus was the ultimate expression of humility in
1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
We also have this quality of humility explained to us in
Philippians 2:3 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Paul, going further, explains that Jesus was the ultimate expression of humility in
Philippians 2:6–8 ESV
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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
We are called to clothe ourselves in humility by truly considering others as more important than ourselves
We are called to imitate the humility of Christ and clothe ourselves in humility by truly considering others as more important than ourselves

Next is Meekness

Meekness is a word we don’t often hear these days. It might best be defined as an attitude of humble, submissive, and expectant trust in God and a loving, patient, and gentle attitude toward others.
Often, the concept of meekness is associated with a gentle, mild, and even-tempered attitude - especially as it pertains to enduring by faith in God despite suffering, trial, and persecution.
A synonym we might use in today’s language would be gentleness.
Ephesians 4:1–2 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
Ephesians 4:2 ESV
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
Peter points to Jesus as the ultimate example of meekness in :
James draws the correlation between meekness and wisdom in chapter 3 of his epistle:
James 3:13 ESV
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
It’s Peter, though, who truly explains this concept of meekness - or gentleness - for us.
1 Peter 3:15–16 ESV
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Peter also points to Jesus as the ultimate example of meekness
1 Peter 2:23 ESV
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
We are called to put on meekness like Jesus who, in expectant, submissive, and humble trust in God endured the suffering put before Him with love, patience, and gentleness for our sake.

Next, we must put on Patience

Patience, here, is not the simple patience that sustains us in long lines at the DMV or in bumper-to-bumper traffic. This patience is a kind of patient endurance of pain or unhappiness in the midst of one another - this is a patience we’re called to have with the people all around us right now - here at Living Grace - and in the rest of the “Capital - C” Church around the world.
Paul understands that the Church is going to be messy. There will be all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds living in close proximity with one another in the Church.
There will be all levels of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual maturity present in every row, every pew, every home-group, and every ministry in the Church.
Because this is true, Paul further clarifies this command to be patient with one another.
First, we are told to Bear with one another.
In the weeks I spent studying this passage - in all the word studies, the thorough exegesis, the countless study Bible notes and commentaries - I had to chuckle at the realization that this concept of “bearing with one another” is really talking about putting up with one another. It’s about tolerating one another with patience. It’s about enduring one another despite all the little, trivial annoyances we’re going to find in one another.
Now, there’s no doubt that we are called to bear one another’s burdens in Scripture.
Galatians 6:2 ESV
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6
So I don’t want to discourage us from coming alongside one another and spurring each other on to love and good works.
However, in the weeks I spent studying this passage - in all the word studies, the thorough exegesis, the countless study Bible notes and commentaries - I had to chuckle at the realization that this passage isn’t about helping each other out - it’s about putting up with one another. It’s about tolerating one another with patience. It’s about enduring one another despite all the little, trivial annoyances we’re going to find in one another.
We might even translate this word long-suffering or enduring
Matthew 17:17 ESV
And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.”
We are called, then, to endure one another as we live in the close proximity of fellowship.
We might even translate this word long-suffering or endure like
1 Corinthians 4:12 ESV
and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;
We are called, then, to endure one another - but we are called to do so in love.
Ephesians 4:2 ESV
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
Second, we are instructed that if we have a complaint against another, we must forgive one another
When we live in the kind of close proximity that exists within the Church, not only will there be minor annoyances which must be tolerated and endured - there will also be occasions of serious transgression. There will surely be times in the life of the Church when one Christian seriously wounds another Christian. It’s unfortunate and it’s awful, but it’s to be expected - the Church is a family of sinners saved by grace - none of us have been glorified and all of us are still being sanctified day by day.
For those hopefully rare instances of serious transgression, Paul forbids us from holding grudges against one another - reminding us that the Lord has forgiven us despite the wicked, despicable sin we have committed against God so, likewise, me must also forgive those who have sinned against us.
Jesus had a lot to say about forgiveness during His earthly ministry. A prime example of this is found in , where Jesus explains in a parable that the forgiveness of God we have enjoyed through the sacrifice of Christ must compel us to forgive our brothers and sisters for their transgressions against us.
So, we are called to be patient with one another - patiently and lovingly enduring one another and forgiving one another just as Jesus has forgiven us.
You must also forgive

Finally, Love

Paul tells us to put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
This is unsurprising when you consider passages such as
1 Corinthians 13:1–3 ESV
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 1–3 ESV
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
1 Cor1
It’s no good to simply tolerate one another if we won’t do it in love. And humility without love simply isn’t humility. So, then, Paul tells us to put on love as a way of tying all these characteristics together around a single, central principle: love one another.
The Bible Sense Lexicon from Lexham Press defines this agape love as a specifically Christian love - a strong, non-sexual affection and regard for a person and their good as understood by God’s moral character; especially characterized by a willing forfeiture of rights or privileges in another person’s behalf.
This is the kind of love which puts others first, and we are called here to put on this selfless, others-exalting, Christlike love as we live with one another in the context of the local Church.

So, to summarize the text up to this point, we are commanded clearly in this passage to put on the new garments which are in accordance with the new life we have been given as new creatures in Christ - specifically: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love. And if we look back to verses 5-9 we’ll see that we are exchanging these garments with the garments of our former life, which we are to now put to death: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful passions, evil desires, covetousness and idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and dishonesty.
For that, we look back to verses 5-11.
Let the peace of Christ ru

Garments of the Old Creature

Xxx
For the sake of time I’m not going to examine each one of these in-depth. For one thing, it is a more worthy use of our short time this morning to be instructed in how we should live but, most notably, because we are all much more mature in our sinfulness than we are in our holiness there are very few items on this list which need to be explained to us. We are, unfortunately, intimately familiar with these sins and they most likely do not need much in the way of explanation.
Here in verse 5 we find the first of two lists of “old garments” or earthly unrighteousness which characterized us in our old lives before we were born again in Christ Jesus.
First on the list, unsurprisingly, are three similar sinful inclinations of the human heart: Sexual immorality, Impurity, and Passion.
Impurity
Sexual immorality and impurity are very far-reaching categories of sin which cover all kinds of unrighteousness found in the human heart. We could spend hours and hours exploring the depths of depravity in the human heart as it pertains only to these two categories, but for today it will be sufficient simply to name them.
Passion, though, bears a little explanation. With today’s modern language we wouldn’t typically view passion as a negative or sinful thing. In fact, we commend people for their passion in the arts, in their hobbies, and in their skillfulness.
Passion here, though, is not the same thing we usually think of in modern English. This word is only used three times in the Scripture and all three occurrences exist within the context of sexual sin. This kind of passion is most often associated with the strong feelings or emotions that accompany lust and sexual immorality.
Most often associated with the strong feelings or emotions that accompany lust.
Romans 1:26 ESV
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
Romans 1:26
1 Thessalonians 4:5 ESV
not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Verse 5 continues and condemns evil desires and covetousness which, as Paul explains, is idolatry.
Evil Desire
Covetousness
Idolatry
Jumping down to verses 8 and 9, Paul continues to list these unrighteous characteristics: anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and dishonesty.
Paul explains in verse 6 that the wrath of God is coming to this world on account of this unrighteousness in humanity and makes a blanket statement that before we were born again in Christ we all walked in these sins and lived in these sins - meaning that these sins were the normal, everyday habits which characterized us in our former life.
Malice
Slander
So, to summarize the text up to this point, we could say that as new creatures, we are commanded to put away sexual immorality, impurity, lustful passions, evil desires, covetousness and idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and dishonesty - and we are commanded to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love.
So, just as we are called to put on the new garments of righteousness now that we live in Christ we are called to put off the old garments of unrighteousness - specifically: sexual immorality
Obscene talk
Dishonesty

Transition

So, to summarize the text up to this point, we could say that as new creatures, we are commanded to put away sexual immorality, impurity, lustful passions, evil desires, covetousness and idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and dishonesty - and we are commanded to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love.
Now, I could - as many people do - take this text and, either through ignorance - or worse - neglect, wrap it up with a bow here at this point and send you all home with only this admonition: “Go forth this week and be more compassionate. Be more kind. Be more humble. Stop lying and cheating. Be more like Jesus and live in a way that pleases God.”
But I can’t do that - not if my goal is to handle the Word of God with reverence and accuracy. I can’t leave you here without doing you a massive, massive disservice as a minister of the Word. I can’t do it because I’ve only shown you a small portion of what God is communicating to you in the letter to the Colossians.

2: As the people of Christ

If we’re being honest with ourselves we’ll realize that, even as Christians who have had their old lives put to death and who have been born again to newness of life by the Spirit of God, this list of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love doesn’t describe us: not fully, anyway. Sure, I have my moments of compassion and kindness and humility. I’ve behaved with meekness and patience and forgiveness at times. I’ve even loved my enemies on occasion.
But I can’t do that - not if my goal is to handle the Word of God with reverence and accuracy. I can’t leave you here without doing you a massive, massive disservice as a minister of the Word. I can’t do it because I’ve only shown you a small portion of what God is communicating to you in the letter to the Colossians.
If we’re being honest with ourselves we’ll realize that, even as Christians who have had their old lives put to death and who have been born again to newness of life by the Spirit of God, this list of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love doesn’t describe us: not fully, anyway. Sure, I have my moments of compassion and kindness and humility. I’ve behaved with meekness and patience and forgiveness at times. I’ve even loved my enemies on occasion.
But to fully describe myself - to honestly finish the list of characteristics I regularly display in my day-to-day life - I have to also include anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, impurity, lust, evil desires, covetousness, and idolatry - and so do you.
How discouraging. This is why we must always keep an eye to the greater context of Scripture. This is why we must never allow any portion of God’s word to be lifted out of context and isolated from the original intended meaning of the author.
This is why we must always keep an eye to the greater context of Scripture. This is why we must never allow any portion of God’s word to be lifted out of context and isolated from the original intended meaning of the author.
We must always keep an eye to the greater context of Scripture - what the rest of Scripture says - and we must also keep an eye to the Gospel - or Good News - of Jesus. We must ask ourselves what the implications of the Gospel are for the passage we are studying.
Acts 20:26–27 ESV
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
We must always keep an eye to the greater context of Scripture - what the rest of Scripture says - and we must also keep an eye to the Gospel - or Good News - of Jesus. We must ask ourselves what the implications of the Gospel are for the passage we are studying.

Point # 3

If I stand before you today and tell you that the point of is simply to live holier lives, I run the risk of accidentally communicating to you that you are being commanded to live holy lives by your own power. This is NOT good news. This is NOT the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is absolutely impossible for us to keep God’s Law because we all choose to sin and because we are all born in a fallen and sinful condition.
tells us with absolute certainty that “None is righteous, no, not one. No one understands. No one seeks for God. All have turned aside. Together they have become worthless. No one does good, not even one.”
Romans 3:10–12 ESV
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
and both say “… There is none who does good. The Lord looks down from Heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside (fallen away); together they have become corrupt. There is none who does good, not even one.”
Psalm 14 ESV
To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord? There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. You would shame the plans of the poor, but the Lord is his refuge. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
Psalm 14 ESV
To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord? There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. You would shame the plans of the poor, but the Lord is his refuge. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
The well-known sums it up: “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...”
Romans 3:23 ESV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
says with us, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
says with us, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Psalm 51:5 ESV
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
It is absolutely impossible for us to keep God’s Law because we all choose to sin and because we are all born in a fallen and sinful condition.
If Paul is telling us that we need to roll up our sleeves, grit our teeth, and overcome our own sin by our own strength and willpower then we should all be ripping our clothes, gnashing our teeth, and weeping - because there is absolutely no hope for us. We will not be spared from the wrath of God. There is no hope of forgiveness.

Transition

V. 12: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved...”
If you are comfortable writing in your Bible circle, underline, and highlight that little word: then.
Keep looking back with me:
V. 5: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you...” and v. 7-8: “In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away...”
What is Paul pointing us to? He keeps saying things like, “Put on then...” and “Put to death therefore...” and “But now ...”
Praise God, then, that the greater context of the book of Colossians points us not to our own power but to the power of Christ.
Paul is not directing us toward holy living in pursuit of something - he is pointing us toward holy living as a result of something.
He is not telling us that if we follow God’s Law then we will please God and He will save us. He is not saying that if we are compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, and loving that He will forgive us for our sin and grant us eternal life.
Moral Imperatives and Redemptive Indicatives
He is saying that we will be empowered to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, and loving because He has already transformed us into new creatures through faith in Jesus Christ - Let me show you how I know this:

Transition

Remember that we are picking up the conversation at the beginning of chapter 3 - the halfway point of the letter. Paul is writing this letter in a way that Brian has pointed out to me a hundred times - something that he is bound and determined to drill into my mind - something you’ve heard from him quite often: “Moral Imperatives are always preceded by Redemptive Indicatives”
We could also say “whenever we see a command to do, think, or believe something in Scripture, we should also look for a statement about who we are in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the good news that He has taken our sin and our shame and clothed us in His own righteousness.
Remember that we are picking up the conversation at the beginning of chapter 3 - the halfway point of the letter. Paul is writing this letter in a way that Brian has pointed out to me a hundred times - something that he is bound and determined to drill into my mind: “Moral Imperatives are always preceded by Redemptive Indicatives”
In other words, the Bible is chock-full of moral imperatives, or commands from God to do, think, or believe something.
However, the Bible is also chock-full of redemptive indicatives, or statements of truth about our condition or standing before God - statements about who we are and what is true about us in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, to restate the phrase “Moral imperatives are always preceded by redemptive indicatives” we could say “whenever we see a command to do, think, or believe something in Scripture, we should also look for a statement about who we are in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the good news that He has taken our sin and our shame and clothed us in His own righteousness.
Keep a finger here in Colossians and turn toward the back of your Bibles to 1 John chapter 4. It’s a small book and can be hard to find, so use your table of contents if you can’t find it.
It would be wonderful if we had the time this morning to take an in-depth look at this concept in the book of 1 John where it is expressed over and over in undeniable clarity, but for today it will be sufficient just to consider :
1 John 4:19 ESV
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:7–8 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:7–8 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:7 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
“Beloved, let us love one another…” - There’s the moral imperative: “Let us love one another...”
“Beloved, let us love one another…” - There’s the moral imperative: “Let us love one another...”
“Beloved, let us love one another…” - There’s the moral imperative: “Let us love one another...”
If we isolate this command to love one another from its context we are left with a terrifying and faulty litmus test of God’s favor. Every time we love somebody well, we will feel that we are pleasing God and everything’s hunky-dory. However, on those days when we struggle to love somebody we have no choice but to doubt our salvation. Because we have isolated the text from its context and handled it improperly we have robbed ourselves of the beauties and the wonders of God’s love for us. We have to keep reading:
“Beloved, let us love one another...” - moral imperative - “… for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” - there’s the redemptive indicative.
As Christians, we know God and we have been born again by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit - therefore, we love because God has shown us His own love and made us able to love others.
John even goes on to restate the redemptive indicative in the negative for the purpose of clarity in verse 8: “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Verse 19 shows us the principle in crystal clarity: “We love because He first loved us.” We do not love others so that God will love us. Instead, we love others because God loves us.
It is absolutely critical that we understand this principle. If we get it backwards it can lead us down some very dangerous roads.
It is crucial that we understand this principle so that we can know and understand precisely what God intends for us to see and hear in His word.
Alternatively - and often in an attempt to avoid legalism - some Christians simply ignore the moral imperatives and commands in Scripture because of the redemptive indicatives. They falsely believe that because their sins are forgiven in Christ they no longer have any need for obedience to God’s commands - they misunderstand the redemptive indicatives as immunities to moral imperatives.
Neither of these cases could be further from the truth. It is crucial that we understand this principle so that we can know and understand precisely what God intends for us to see and hear in His word.
As Christians, we are called to do, think, and believe what God commands in light of what God has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Transition
With this in mind, let’s turn back now to Colossians chapter 3.

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him...

We’ve seen the principle of redemptive indicatives preceding moral imperatives demonstrated in 1 John. Don’t worry if that’s confusing to you, though. We’ll see it again very clearly here in the letter to the Colossians.
Remember that we are picking up the conversation at the beginning of chapter 3 - the halfway point of the letter. Knowing that, we have to remember this important principle: “Moral Imperatives are always preceded by Redemptive Indicatives”
We could also say “whenever we see a command to do, think, or believe something in Scripture, we should also look for a statement about who we are in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the good news that He has taken our sin and our shame and clothed us in His own righteousness.
As Christians, we are called to do, think, and believe what God commands in light of what God has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
With this in mind, let’s look mo
We see several commands here in our text:
Look back at : “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
To put on compassionate hearts
To put on kindness
To put on humility and meekness
To patiently bear with one another and forgive one another as God has forgiven us in Christ.
We’re called to love
These are all moral imperatives - commands that God has for us as the people He has set apart in the world for His glory. There should be no dancing around or pretending that there is a secret meaning here other than obedience.
When God calls us to put on compassionate hearts He means exactly that - we are to put on compassionate hearts.
When God calls us to put on kindness He means exactly that - we are commanded to be kind.
But, we are not commanded to be obedient in order to earn His favor - He has already shown us His favor. We are commanded to be obedient in light of the redemptive indicatives Paul has declared to be true of us elsewhere in this letter to the Colossians.

Transition

So where are the redemptive indicatives? Where are the pieces to the puzzle that we are still missing?
Redemptive Indicatives
To see some of these redemptive indicatives we can look back at chapter 3 verse 1: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
In fact, I’ve already had you circle, underline, and highlight a few of them. Look back at verse 12: “Put on then...”
Verse 8: “But now...”
Verse 5: “Put to death therefore...”
These verses are sending us back to something which must have come earlier in the text.
What is Paul pointing us to? He keeps saying things like, “Put on then...” and “Put to death therefore...” and “But now you must put them all away...”
For example, look back at chapter 3 verse 1: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
Redemptive Indicative: You have been raised with Christ
Moral Imperative: Seek the things that are above, where Christ is
Or chapter 3, verse 12: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved...”
Redemptive Indicative: We are God’s chosen ones, and we are holy and beloved.
Moral Imperative: Put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love.
We are not being called to become God’s chosen, holy, beloved people by being compassionate, loving, and humble - we are being called to compassion, love, and humility because we are God’s chosen, holy, and beloved people.
Chapter 2, verses 11-14 explain this in greater detail:
Colossians 2:6 ESV
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
Paul tells us - not to imitate Christ in order to receive Christ - but to walk like Christ by the power of Christ because we have received Christ.
Verses 11-14 explain this in greater detail:
Colossians 2:11–14 ESV
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Those of us who belong to Christ were, at one time, dead in our trespasses and in the uncircumcision of our flesh. But God, in Christ, put our former life to death just as Christ was crucified and killed. He buried our old life in baptism just as Christ was buried in Joseph’s tomb. But, like Christ, He did not leave us there in death - we were raised to a new life through faith and we have been made alive with Christ, who also was resurrected from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God in heaven. Our sins, our trespasses, and our debts all died with our old lives - they were nailed to the cross and set aside - our debts were cancelled by the work of Christ on the cross, and now we are new creations in Christ.
Finally, if we look back even further to we this:
Colossians 1:21–22 ESV
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
Colossians 1:12–22 ESV
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
Colossians 1:21–23 ESV
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
We all, at one time, were alienated and far off from God - but not in a passive way. We were hostile to God - doing evil deeds and actively rebelling against any thought that God might have some authority over our own sovereign free will. But, in the broken body and spilled blood of Christ, God has reconciled us - evil, hostile, distant aliens - and made a way for us to return to a right relationship with Himself - a relationship of humble submission by the creation to its Creator - to a life of holiness and blamelessness - to a life above reproach before Him.
If your faith is in Christ this morning then all of this is true of you. You once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds. You once were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. You once owed a debt that stood against you with the most terrifying legal demands imaginable...
But you have received Jesus.
And if you have received Jesus then you who were once far off have been brought near. You were once alienated but you have now been adopted into His Church. You were once hostile to God but now you have found peace with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Transition

The Peace of Christ

Colossians 3:15 ESV
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Colossians
Paul reminds us of the truths we’ve seen in chapters 1 and 2. He reminds us that we were once dead in our sins, at war with God, and hopeless indebted to the Law - but we were made alive in Christ, reconciled to God, and released from our debt because our penalty has been paid by another.
If we look further back in the , , ,
This brings us to our third point:

3. By the Power of Christ

Colossians 2:6 ESV
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
This is why our text goes on in verse 15 to say this:
Colossians 3:15 ESV
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Paul reminds us of the truths we’ve seen so far in the book of Colossians. He reminds us that we were once dead in our sins, at war with God, and hopeless indebted to the Law - but we were made alive in Christ, reconciled to God, and released from our debt because our penalty has been paid by another.

The Peace of Christ

In light of that amazing truth, Paul tells us not to be ruled by guilt or by shame but to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts - the peace which Christ has made between God and man by becoming a man Himself and paying the penalty for sin.
Colossians 2:11 ESV
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
Paul also reminds those of us who have been born again through faith in Christ all share that peace in common with one another - “indeed you were called [to the peace of Christ] in one body.”
The Church - the body of Christ - is a people called by God, reborn by the power of the Holy Spirit, and purchased by the blood of Christ. As such, we are no longer defined by the things of our previous life. The one thing we all have in common is that God has shown us incredible grace and mercy by granting us new life through Jesus Christ. It is the peace of Christ which unites us and which guides us.

Transition

Notice here that Paul tells us to be thankful for the peace of Christ which unites us.
Look now at verse 16:

The Word of Christ

Colossians 3:16 ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Next Paul tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. Where do we learn that God has made peace with us through Christ but in Scripture? Where do we learn that we are dead in our sins and in need of salvation but in Scripture? Where do we learn how it is that God has made a way for us to be made holy and blameless before Him but in Scripture?
We must be daily seeking to be filled with the Word of Christ - and deeply so. Not only should we be reading the Scriptures for ourselves in times of devotion, but we should be gathering in the local church to hear the Word proclaimed and explained. We should be teaching and admonishing each other with the wisdom of Scripture. We should be singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to one another and with one another - telling of His glory and His faithfulness.
Deuteronomy 6:6–9 ESV
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4–9 ESV
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
deut6:

Transition

We must let the word of Christ dwell in us richly and - notice again - we are to be thankful; this time in connection with the Word of God.
Finally, we come to our final point:

4. For the glory of Christ

The Name of Christ

Finally, and summarily, verse 17 - the crown jewel of the entire passage:
Colossians 3:17 ESV
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
How much simpler could it be?
Everything we do, everything we think, everything we say - we must do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1cor6:
Everything we do must be done in a way that is conscious of the fact that we belong to God, we are accountable to God, and we represent God in the world. We must do all things in His name or in a way which glorifies Him and makes His name great.
Colossians 2:6 ESV
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
COl
We are to do everything, in word or deed, to the glory of Christ - and, again, we are to be thankful to God through Jesus.

Application

So, in conclusion: We are called to put off the garments of our former life: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful passions, evil desires, covetousness and idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and dishonesty.
And in the newness of life which we have through faith in Christ Jesus we are to put on the righteousness which He has earned for us - compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love. We must be ruled by the peace which Christ has secured for us, we must be filled with the Word of Christ which He has spoken to us, and we must bear His name honorably - but all of this must be rooted in thankfulness for the fact that we are not left to do this by our own power: We can be confident that because we have received Jesus by faith we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in greater and greater holiness.

Encouragement for the Believer

This is not an immediate and conclusive change - so, Christian, don’t misread this text and find condemnation and guilt because you don’t perfectly uphold the Law of God.
We all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God.
1 John 1:8 ESV
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1john
But take heart, and endure. You are chosen, you are set apart, and you are beloved by God. Hold fast to the faith that has been delivered to you. Cling to the peace you have in Christ. Chase hard after the Word of God. Seek the things that are above and hold on to the promise we have in
Philippians 1:6 ESV
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
If you belong to Christ this morning, you are undoubtedly called to put on the garments of the new life you have been born into: You must put on the characteristics of Christ for the glory of Christ - but praise God and be thankful, because Christ is daily granting us the power to do so.
You are chosen, holy, and beloved. He began the work in you and He will finish it.

A Call to the Unbeliever

And if you are here this morning and you are not a believer - if you couldn’t care less about what I’m saying, if you think I’m crazy or stupid for believing this, or if you flat out couldn’t care less about what I’m saying this morning - please hear me right now:
One day - maybe not today, but perhaps - you will reach the end of your life and you will find yourself standing before Almighty God. And you will realize in that moment with unspeakable terror that you have offended Him and regarded Him as your enemy your entire life. You will stand utterly condemned before Him because of your sexual immorality, your impurity, your lustful passions, your evil desires, your covetousness and idolatry, your anger, your wrath, your malice, your slander, your obscene talk, and your dishonesty.
You will have no hope because you have no righteousness of your own. You won’t make a case for yourself - you won’t be able to. Your mouth will be shut because you’ll know that it’s true.
Even right now, in this very moment, you know. Deep down, you know that you are guilty before God.
If you hope to stand any chance in that moment there is only one way to be saved: abandon every shed of hope you have in anything else, and place every ounce of your hope and confidence in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Put your faith in Him and quit pursuing your own glory, your own will, and your own desires.
You’ve seen it clear as day in this text: There is absolutely no peace with God except the peace that God has made with us through Christ.
This text is an encouragement to the believer but, for you - the unbeliever, the skeptic - this text is a call to turn away from your sin and turn your heart to God.
Place your faith in Christ and be saved from the wrath of God. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. Let the Word of Christ, which you have heard so plainly this morning, dwell in you richly. Put your old life to death and bury it with Christ. Come to Christ in faith today.

Closing Prayer

Lord, there is no making peace with you apart from Christ.
There is no wisdom to be found in this world apart from the wisdom of Christ.
There is no deed good enough and no life holy enough to stand before you except the life of Jesus Christ - the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Father, for those of us who have been born again into Christ we thank you for your grace and your mercy. We thank you for the compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love which Christ has shown. Please help us to imitate Christ for your glory.
Help us to have our hearts ruled by the peace of Christ.
Help us to be filled with the Word of Christ.
Help us to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, and help us to be thankful for all that you have done for us in Christ Jesus.
And God, for those here today who do not know Jesus, would you call them to salvation. Open the eyes of their hearts and grant them faith and repentance. Call them to salvation in Jesus and to new life.
All of this for your glory, Lord.
Amen.
Related Media
Related Sermons