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7. Living Above (Colossians 3:1-11)

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Scriptural Insight: Knowing that all wisdom is in Christ (2:1-5), Paul urged the Colossian Christians [and us] to continue in Him (2:6-7), not being deceived by vain philosophies (2:8-10) …We are not to live under Jewish laws (2:11-17), for that would only rob us of our rewards (2:18-19). We have died with Christ and hence need not submit to legalistic rules (2:20-23). So, we as believers are to seek spiritual values, put off the sins of the old life, and put on the virtues of the new life. This in turn should affect our relationships with other members of our families and society. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 679)

Day One Study

Read Colossians 2:11-3:11.

  1. As you read 3:1-11, what especially interested you or brought questions to your mind?
  2. Focusing on 3:1-4, what ideas are repeated in these verses that connect with what you read in Colossians 2 (give verses)?
  1. According to 3:1, where is Christ and what is his role there? See also Ephesians 1:20-23.
  2. Based on Colossians 3:1-4, what things are true about you in relation to Christ?
  3. What is promised in verse 4?

Focus on the Meaning: “‘Hidden’ implies both concealment and safety; both invisibility and security. [The believer] is not glorified, but he is secure and safe in Christ.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 680)

  1. Colossians 3:1 says, “you have been raised with Christ.” Read Colossians 1:13; Romans 6:3-10 and Ephesians 2:4-7. What is the meaning of “raised with Christ?”
  2. Because of your position of being “raised with Christ,”
  • How are you to set your heart and mind?
  • Based on what you learned in Colossians 2, what does Paul mean by “earthly things” (give verses)?
  • Based on what you learned so far in Colossians 1 and 2, what do you think it means to set your heart and mind on “things above” (give verses)? See also Romans 8:5.
  • Why is it necessary to set your heart and mind on things above?

Focus on the Meaning: …from now on the Christian will see everything in the light and against the background of eternity. He will no longer live as if this world was all that mattered; he will see this world against the background of the larger world of eternity…He will, for instance, set giving above getting, serving above ruling, forgiving above avenging. The Christian will see things, not as they appear to men, but as they appear to God. (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 51)

  1. Staying Healthy: Setting your heart and mind on “things above” doesn’t mean that you live with your head in the clouds. It doesn’t mean that you live for God and approach life God’s way rather than the world’s way in the middle of the mess around you. Think of a tough situation you have been facing or expect to face. Now look at that situation as it appears to God. How can you approach that situation God’s way rather than the world’s way? Find verses to support your answer.

Day Two Study

Read Colossians 3:1-11.

  1. Focus on 3:5-7. Because of who you are (died with Christ to sin, made alive with Christ, and now with Christ in you,
  • What behaviors (includes thoughts, words, and actions) are you to “put to death” in your life?

From the Greek: Based upon the original Greek words used for these behaviors—”Immorality” refers to illicit sexual intercourse. “Impurity” is moral impurity. “Passion” means uncontrolled illegitimate desire, like an inward fire that is kindled in the heart. “Evil desire” refers to reaching out for some forbidden thing to satisfy itself. “Greed” is the desire to have more of anything materialistic, including lust, that disregards the rights of others. It is “the arrogant and ruthless assumption that all other persons and things exist for one’s own benefit. Every sin is basically selfishness, the worship of self instead of the worship of God, the substitution of self for

Christ, in one’s affections (cf. Col. 3:1-3). (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 55)

  • What do you think “put to death” means regarding those behaviors?
  • Why should you put those behaviors “to death?”
  • From what you’ve learned in Colossians so far, where do you get the ability to put those behaviors “to death?”
  1. In Colossians 3:5-6, Paul referred to the wrath of God. God’s response to all evil and sin is righteous, holy wrath. We must not project our experience with human anger onto God and assume that “His is the same, only bigger.” God’s wrath is not a mood or a fit of temper. God’s disposition toward sin and evil is as constant and unrelenting as His love and goodness. He hates and rejects evil in a perfect and holy anger. He will never bend or compromise with it. His own nature demands that He judge it through action.

Based on Colossians 3:5-6 and Romans 1:18-20, towards what is His wrath directed?

Focus on the Meaning: Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, what­ever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. Wherever the holi­ness of God confronts unholiness, there is conflict: This conflict arises from the irrecon­cilable natures of holiness and sin. God’s attitude and action in the conflict are His anger. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down destruction and save the world from irreparable moral collapse He is said to be angry. Every wrathful judgment of God in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation. (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, page 106)

  1. According to Romans 5:9-10, how are believers affected by the wrath of God?

Focus on the Meaning: God’s holy wrath is fully satisfied by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. “Propitiation” (to appease, satisfy) is the term that has been used historically for this. Because God’s wrath against all sin is fully satisfied by what Jesus finished on the cross, God is able to extend mercy without compromise with evil. This is truth for you to know and claim. Because you have trusted Christ are now found in Christ, God is no longer angry at your sin—ever! So, how does knowing that truth make you feel?

  1. Reread Colossians 3:8-11. What other things should you as a believer remove from your life (vv. 8-10)?

Scriptural Insight: In the Bible, behavior is often likened to a garment, both bad and good. See Job 29:14.

Regarding those listed in v. 8, let’s take each one and define them.

  1. ANGER. Anger is a normal human emotion designed by God to alert us to something wrong so we will take action against it.
  • Look at the dictionary definitions of anger.
  • Is all anger wrong? If not, which definition of anger seems to fit the context of Colossians 3?
  • If we are to reflect God on earth, when is anger appropriate?
  • But, even appropriate anger is a slippery slope. What can easily happen with unresolved anger?
  1. RAGE. Define rage. Why is rage something that needs to be “put to death?”
  2. MALICE. Define malice. How can malice be related to anger and rage?
  3. SLANDER. Define slander. How is slander related to malice?
  4. FILTHY LANGUAGE. The Greek word used here (meaning “foul speaking, low and obscene speech”) is elsewhere translated as abusive speech. What do you think qualifies as abusive speech or filthy language? See also Ephesians 4:29.
  5. LIE. Define what it means to “lie to one another” as used in this context. Would such a command as “do not lie” include exaggeration or embellishment? If so, under what circumstances?

Scriptural Insight: The imperative command against lying is very strong. Paul said to never lie. The reason given (v. 9) applies to all the preceding activities. The “old self” is the person the Christian was before God united him or her with Christ. (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 56)

  1. Why is it necessary for the believer to “put off” such behaviors? Look at all of Colossians 3:1-10 for your answer (give verses).

Think About It: Become in experience what you already ARE by God’s grace. (Ryrie Study Bible, notes on Colossians 3:1-2)

  1. How does being renewed in knowledge in the image of your Creator (v. 10) tie in with Genesis 1:26-27 and Genesis 3? See also Romans 8:29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 and 5:17.

Focus on the Meaning: Sanctification (made holy)— Set apart as God’s possession for His exclusive use. Believers are made holy by Christ’s death on the cross in their relational status before God. Believers are also “being made holy” in their thoughts, words, and actions by the work of the Holy Spirit. This is ongoing from the moment of salvation until the Lord comes or the believer dies when our “being made holy” is complete.

  1. Staying Healthy: To put to death the behaviors that do not fit with your life hidden in Christ, you need to be able to recognize them first. Considering what you have studied today in Colossians 3:5-9, do you recognize any of these behaviors in your life? Will you put them to death by choosing to say, “NO!” to them and asking Jesus to enable you to keep saying, “NO”?
  2. What does Colossians 3:11 say?
  3. Based on what you’ve learned in Colossians 1:1-3:10, why are all racial, religious, social and sexual distinctions removed in Christ? See also Galatians 3:26-29 and Acts 17:24-28.

Historical Insight: Jews regarded all others as Gentiles. Greeks and Romans regarded all others as barbarians. Scythians were considered the most barbarous of barbarians—wild, savage nomads. (A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures of the New Testament)

  1. Deeper Discoveries (optional): Read Ephesians 2:11-22.
  • Why was Colossians 3:11 such an astounding concept for men and women of the New Testament world to hear?
  • How important is it to you today?

Scriptural Insight: There is no national or racial distinction that determines one’s acceptability to God nor is there any religious, cultural, or social distinction. Jesus Christ is essentially all that we need for new birth and growth. He indwells every believer and permeates all the relationships of life. (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 56)

  1. Staying Healthy: The Bible never talks about races but about tribes and nations. We are told in the Bible that we are all of one blood, one flesh. We all have the same color. Some of us have more of it than others. Racism is an idea put on later by man to divide people. Do you feel that a particular racial, religious, or ethnic group is inferior to you? Are you willing to put this attitude “to death”?

Day Three Study: TRUTH—the Prescription for Healthy Living

Dwell in Truth You Can Know

  1. Review the Colossians passage we studied in this lesson. List the truths about God and His relationship to us that we can KNOW.

Humbly Accept the “I Don’t Know or Understand”

  1. From the Colossians passage we studied in this lesson, make note of anything that you do not understand at this time.

Discern Teaching through the Complete Revelation of God’s Word

  1. Evaluate something you have read or heard in light of the TRUTH you are learning—books, social media, billboards—things that sound nice and comfy but may actually lead to or be based upon error in biblical thinking. Does anything come to mind that fits with today’s lesson? Discern truth from error using the following process.
  • Step #1: Define the terms and issues involved.
  • Step #2: Ask questions and support your answers with Scripture, looking for truth you can know and what you can’t know.
  • Step #3: Think of a graceful response to someone holding to that type of thinking.

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