How do you know how you are doing as a Christian? Is my life pleasing God? Am I bringing glory to God? Am I off track? As we saw last week, you might even be deceived and not realize it. As we Colossians 2:6-7 this week, we will see some tests, you might think of them as thermometers, to help read your spiritual temperature.
lit. as therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord in Him walk
received = the word for “receive teaching”
walk = present tense imperative, in other words it is a command that is for right now: you keep walking in Him
this is a little bit unusual because the Greek puts the word “the” before “Christ” – so this literally reads “As you received the message of the Messiah, the Savior (that is what the name Jesus means) and the Master (that’s what Lord means), keep walking in that Christ.”
There should be a clear parallel between your salvation and your Christian living. At salvation you heard the message of Christ, and you said Yes, he is the Messiah, God’s anointed one and actually God Himself. Yes, He is Jesus, the Savior for my sins. Yes, He is the Lord and my Master. You said “Yes I want that Jesus. Yes I need that Jesus. I must have Him.” You should live that way too.
As you received the message of Christ as Messiah and Savior and Lord, live like it! As we worked through the great truths about Christ in chapter 1, we have considered the ramifications or the logical results of those truths. The reality of who Christ is has consequences for life. And Paul is saying the same thing here in chapter 2 – you have to live in the reality of who Christ really is. You said that Christ was so great that you were going to trust your entire self and eternity to him. Now live like He is that important. Live in the reality of Christ. If the reality of who Christ is can change your whole eternity, surely it must change your life now.
Paul is conveying the same idea when he says:
Col. 1:10 “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord”
Phil. 1:27 “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”
Eph. 4:1 “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called”
I think we can say that this is the key characteristic of a life that glorifies God. What Christian glorifies God the most? Is it the one who read his Bible the most; the one who prays the most; the one who gives the most; the one who witnesses the most; the one who serves the most? I think that the Christian who glorifies God the most is the one who lives in the reality of Christ. If you live in the reality of Christ, Bible reading will happen because you will he hungry to know the mind of Christ. If you live in the reality of Christ you will pray. Because Christ set the example of prayer, He commanded prayer, and He gave you great promises about prayer. If you live in the reality of Christ you will witness, because like Peter in Acts 4, you will not able to help speaking about the things which you have seen and heard of Christ. If you live in the reality of Christ you will love and serve and minister to others, because you see the example in Christ, because He sacrificed His very life for you, and because He told you to follow His example. If you live in the reality of Christ, you will be obedient, because Jesus said if you love Me you will keep My commandments. You will know his greatness and treasure it more than sin. If you live in the reality of Christ you will love your wife like you should, because you will see in Christ the greatest example of true love and you will heed the command to love your wife just like Christ loved the church. If you will just live in the reality of Christ, in a sense everything else will take care of itself.
Here’s a little test you can use: take any area of your life; any decisions you are making; any ways you are spending your time; any way you are treating your family, etc. Just ask “In light of who Christ is, does this make sense?” In the light of what Christ did for a rebellious and hostile person like me on the cross, it doesn’t make any sense for me to treat my wife this way. For me to be so selfish in my home. It doesn’t make any sense for me to be using my time this way. Shine the light of the reality of Christ onto any area of your life, and see what shows up. Christ-centered people can give you Christ-centered reasons for everything they do.
So as you received the message of Christ as Messiah, Savior, and Master, now walk in Him. Live in the reality of Christ.
Verse 7 gives us some characteristics of life in the reality of Christ.
First of all, this life is possible because you have been firmly rooted. This verb tense indicates something that happened in the past but has continuing results to day. At salvation, you were firmly rooted in the best soil – into Christ. I Cor. 12:13 says that at salvation the Spirit baptized you, or brought into union with, Christ. To use Paul’s plant illustration here, he planted you in Christ. You are firmly rooted in Christ. To use the same metaphor as the next participle (Paul switched from the plant to the building), you have been anchored to the right foundation.
That happened in the past, but it has continuing results. You are still anchored firmly in Christ.
Now, you are “being built up in Him” = to add on top of the foundation of a building, present passive so “[and now] being built up on the foundation of Christ”
I Cor. 3 highlights our responsibility to build carefully with our lives, and it is our works, the things we do with our lives, that build upon the foundation of Christ. What is sobering is that we are always building. We are either building a worthless, perishable house or an eternally significant house for which we will receive reward. Every day you are building one way or the other. Every decision you make; everything you do in life adds another brick to your building – a worthless brick or an eternally significant one.
And established in your faith = to be firm, present passive “being caused to be firm [i.e., being established].” – need to illustrate with little bouncing horse at Kabian Park (once I got my balance I was fine, and could have stayed there for a very long time, but until I got my balance it was a pretty funny sight). Paul says that you are being firmly established, reaching a place of balance and stability. In NASB “your faith” but better “the faith” (as NIV & KJV), good sound theology/doctrine that they had been taught.
When you are first taught something you struggle to grasp it completely; you struggle to internalize it; you might question the validity of it; you struggle to explain it to anyone else. But as you meditate more and look carefully at the Word you come to your own conclusion that this is right; it becomes internalized; you could explain it to others; and you can defend it against false teaching. Now you are firmly established in that area of the faith. This is what is supposed to be happening in their lives.
Eph. 4:14 “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming … but we are to grow up into Christ.”
These are passive. “being built up” and “being established.” This highlights that this is the work that God is doing in your life. Paul wants them to pay attention to what God is doing, and realize that they have responsibility too. To use a flawed human illustration: a good sports coach communicates with his players during practice for a reason. It isn’t because he is lonely and needs someone to talk to. He is trying to make them better players. You could say to your child “Go be taught.” That is passive, yet highlights your child’s responsibility. Go pay attention – He knows what he’s talking about, he knows what he’s doing. So go be taught. So Col. 2:7 “Go, be built up and be firmly established in Christ.”
The last characteristic is this: you are to be overflowing with gratitude. More than enough, more than expected, more than normal. You are bursting with gratitude.
Rom. 5:15 the grace of God overflows to us – more than enough grace
Rom. 15:13 may you overflow with hope
I Cor. 15:58 we should be “overflowing in the work of the Lord”
Eph. 1:8 God lavished the riches of his grace upon us.
A thermostat regulates temperature. A thermometer simply reads the temperature. Gratitude is like a thermometer to help you read whether you are living in the reality of Christ. Anyone who lives in the reality of Christ overflows with gratitude. We will take our worship time today and give you an opportunity through song to express your gratitude for all that God is for us in Christ.
Are you living in the reality of Christ? Are you overflowing the gratitude? Are you being firmly established in the faith, or are you still wavering back and forth? You are building on the foundation of Christ. Is it mostly wood, hay, and worthless things? Or is your life building an eternally significant building for the glory of God? Most simply, if you take different areas of your life and ask “Does this make sense in the reality of who Christ is and what He has done?” What is the answer to that question?”