Col. 1:27 The Riches of the Glorious Mystery
When I built our home, I wanted lots of space for books of which there were over three thousand. The whole back wall is a bookcase and above the landing on three walls going up our stairs are most of my church history books. There is space at the second floor level for a few nick knacks and among these is a mounted poem that I would like to share with you today. There will be an appended picture for those able to print it out. The poem is a special favorite and expresses in a practical fashion the meaning of “Christ in you”. May He be glorified in us.
Not merely by the words you say,
Not only in your deeds confessed
But in the most unconscious way
Is Christ expressed.
Is it a beatific smile?
A holy light upon your brow?
Oh, no- I felt His presence while
You laughed just now.
For me ‘twas not the truth you taught,
To you so clear, to me still dim,
But when you came to me you brought
A sense of Him.
And from your eyes He beckons me
And from your heart His love is shed,
Till I lose sight of you, and see
The Christ instead.
Col. 2:6 “As”
“As,” that is, in the same way(manner)--after the fashion of receiving Christ is what Paul meant. How did we receive Him? By faith. Then, we are to walk in Him by faith. That is not seemingly very profound and yet it would appear that many believers are much in need of this emphasis. To walk by faith means to apply the principles that Paul taught concerning the Christian life.
Do we think of ourselves as having been spiritually circumcised (v.4)? That is, that the flesh, as Paul calls the old nature, has been “put off” (v.3) and in effect we are dead to it? Furthermore we are buried with Him (as baptism symbolizes) and raised in (with) Him (v.12) and, though we must turn to the companion epistle to get it (Eph 2:6), we are seated already in Heaven with Him.
What we need to see here is how Paul used this positional teaching to help these particular believers with the problems of legalism and asceticism that were prevalent among them. Note the keyword “therefore” in v.16, and the two verses that start with the words “let no man” (vs. 16& 18).
Christ’s shadow was cast before Him as His first coming drew near but who cares anything about the shadow when we now have the Person?
Conclusion. “Wherefore” (since) ye died (2 Cor.5:14 lit. “all died”) with Him and are already risen with Him (3:1) why as though living in the world etc. Wow! We seem to get it in chapter 3 that we are dead and our life is hidden in Christ, but we let the chapter division get in the way. The “if” (since) ye be dead in 2:20 goes with 3:1 “if” (since) ye be risen. You have to die before you are raised from the dead. Must we go through the pain of self-crucifixion in trying to live the Christian life. No! No! No! We walk by faith not works! Asceticism is Roman or Jewish. We are already dead--we reckon (Rom.6:11) on it and walk in newness of life.
If you don’t get it ask the Lord to open your eyes as you study these verses.
Col. 3: 9 “...ye have put off the old man...”
It should be noted that in the KJV this Colossians passage is made clearer than the companion passage in Ephesians 4:22-25 where it would seem to the reader to be telling us to do something i.e. “ to put off ” etc. Both are the same in the Greek and should be seen as positional . Here Paul says “ye have put off the old man”. The verb is implied in the Ephesians text in the English, but is there in the Greek. Please make a note of this in your Bible at the Ephesians text.
It is totally inconsistent with Paul’s teaching about being dead to sin positionally, for him to turn around and tell us to “put off” the old man. We already have done this when we received Christ. (Note again 2:11). When our teachers and preachers tell us to do something that God already considers has been done it shows that they do not understand Paul’s approach to living the Christian life. Be alert to this and you will find some that are saying we must crucify the flesh (self), etc. Have your “dos” and “dones”straight in your mind. It is pretty hard to see ourselves “risen with Christ” (3:1) if we aren’t convinced that we died with Him (3:3; 2:20; Rom.6:1,6-8,11; 2 Cor.5:14; Gal.2:20, etc.).
“Now,” Paul says, “ on this basis put off (mortify) the sins of the flesh (v.5; 8&9), and put on the good stuff” (vs.12-14). Remember this is by faith (2:6). Do it in prayer. Say, “Lord, I sinned when I said that word in anger. I reckon myself to be dead to it as your Word says and I take my position as being already risen with Christ. I put off anger by faith and I puton a kind and long-suffering attitude. Mentally I slip these bad things off as I would slip off my clothes and slip into something new. Mentally I put these new thoughts on.” No sweat! - For it is not by working at it but simply by believing it unless you call that working! It is the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit. (See Gal. 5:16, 24-25; Eph.4:17-18: 1 Cor. 3:3).
Col.4:3 “.....praying also for us.....”
Based on the emphasis on prayer in this chapter, may we make a suggestion relating to your prayer time. It would seem that one very productive type of praying would be that of praying for God’s servants in the ministry. As the years have gone along I personally have been led in this direction.
Paul said “pray for us,” etc, showing that he valued the prayers of these Colossian believers. What a privilege it was to be thus involved in the ministry of the great apostle. The prayers for those who minister to others have, in a real sense, multiplied effectiveness. It is important that pastors and missionaries be kept faithful in preaching and teaching the Word of God. The effect of one of these servants being silenced is of great consequences and suits well Satan’s purposes.
Let us not only pray for our own pastor that he might “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (v.12) and that “God would open... a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ,” (v.3), but let us select and pray for several pastors in our area that we would classify as saved men, but are not being or preaching what we think they should. What might happen if their eyes could be opened! Humbly let us ask that our own pastor be led into truth that as yet he may not see.
On the one hand, we should pray for pastors to be able to see “eye to eye” (Ps.133:1) on issues that separate them, but on the other, that they have the courage of their convictions and stand for truth even if it is not the popular thing to do. Pray that they will see in Scripture the principles of holiness and separation and not be afraid to preach them. God is able. Note the story of Phinehas in Psalm 106:30 &31.