Today Paul explains what it is like to be a part of the true Church, which consists of those who love Jesus above all else – “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”
Paul instructs the Colossians to walk in Christ, “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” Then he warns them to “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
Paul says that being a Christian isn’t about following rules regarding what to do or not do in the ways you worship or what you touch, eat or drink. “These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”
Following rules can give the appearance of holiness, but it is still man trusting in his own ability to be holy. For those who trust in Christ, our sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus, and our ability to overcome them is provided by the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. So Paul tells the Christians to “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.”
Then Paul explains how to die to the flesh by instructing the Colossians what to put off and what to put on. He says put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lying. Instead, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forgiveness. “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
Paul concludes the letter to the Colossians by encouraging them to continue in prayer and walking in wisdom so that the ones who don’t know the love of Christ may experience His pure love through our lives – “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Tomorrow Paul writes a letter to Philemon, a wealthy Christian in Colossae, regarding his runaway servant, and he begins a letter to the Philippians. Keep reading.