Lesson 23

Paul's Letter to the Colossians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:9 Don't lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, 3:10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator, 3:11 where there can't be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all. 3:12 Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do.

Today's Lesson 

Today's lesson continues Paul's ongoing theme of life and death. In our last three or four lessons, Paul varied this theme only slightly. He repeatedly emphasized the death of Jesus Christ and what God was accomplishing on the cross. He told the Colossians that the power over sin in their lives is believing that their sin has been crucified with Christ. In Yesterday's Scripture, Paul wrote that they should put to death the sins of the flesh. In Today's Scripture, Paul instructs them in the power of the new life in Christ.


Paul uses the image of putting off an old man and putting on a new man as images for our life and death in Christ. We put off our old man when we come to Christ by faith and live in Him. We put on our new man when Christ lives in us. Paul says that the new man, "is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator." We are being conformed into the image of Christ by the Spirit of God who works in us to sanctify our lives to God. Before we come to Christ, we are far from Him. Each day and through various circumstances, God draws us closer to Himself.


Paul goes on to write that in Christ, "there can't be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all." This is an important passage expressing the Christian ideal of equality. In Christ, all men and women are equal. We each are saved by the grace of God. In God's economy the first shall be last and the last shall be first. God turns the idea of human worth and value on its head. This is just one of the reasons that prejudice and division has no place in the Body of Christ.


What often happens in Christian assemblies is that divisions arise over various things. There are those who have been going to a church for all of their lives and other people who have come later. There are people that are within the leadership circles of the church and others that are excluded. There are rich and poor as well as old and young. Paul wants these believers to realize that in Christ there are no divisions such as these that are valid. Those who would lead must become the servants of all. Those who have been at a place the longest must be the first to welcome the stranger. The old and the young should mutually submit to each other for each have a place in Christ.


Paul tells them that we must bear with one another and forgive one another because Christ first forgave us. While we were still enemies and dead in our trespasses and sin, Christ died for us. How can we, then, having come to Christ reject anyone that Christ accepts? Whoever Christ has accepted I must accept. And Christ was willing to bear the sins of the whole world.


It is a fine line between accepting all men in Christ and using discernment in the manner that God would have us to do. We must not place our trust in false teachers for instance. Paul has just warned the Colossians about those men who advocate the philosophies of men. This demonstrates all the more why we should be focused on Jesus Christ. Christ is the head of the church and we must all follow where He leads, not where some man wants to take us. If we are listening to the Spirit of God who is conforming us into the image of Christ, then we will not be led astray by false teachers. The Spirit of God can, in effect, be our truth detector.


We must put on the new man who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of Christ. We must treat all people equally as brothers and sisters in Christ. We must become more like Christ, putting on compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility and perseverance. In such ways we show the world, and ourselves, that we serve the Living God through His Son, Jesus Christ.


Can other people see the image of Christ growing in you? Are you willing to bear all men, forgive all men and accept all men even as Christ does?


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