Published February 11, 2010
Bible Studies for Life, Feb 21
A story is told of an interesting incident that occurred in the life of the military leader Napoleon. One day his prized steed ran away. An alert private immediately jumped on a horse and pursued the General’s steed. When the private returned the horse to the General, Napoleon smiled at the private and said, “Thank you, Captain!”
The private immediately took his uniform to the quartermaster and exchanged it for the uniform of a captain. He went to the barracks, packed his bags, and moved into the officer’s quarters. In an instant, the commander-in-chief had changed his status from a lowly private to a commissioned officer. He believed the general’s words and acted accordingly.
By a single act, Jesus has forever changed our status before God. By His death and resurrection, He has transformed believers from being enemies of God to children of God. Believers are to act in a way consistent with their new status. Therefore, all of our activities, attitudes, and thoughts should be viewed as belonging to God. Christian faith is to be expressed in everyday activities and relationships.
New ways of thinking
Paul gives believers two commands in Colossians 3:1-2. The command in verse 1 is “set your hearts on things above”(NIV). The command in verse 2 is “set your minds on what is above.” The order of these commands is crucial.
Life transformation begins in the heart. In the Bible, the “heart” is the center of our being that governs all aspects of our lives. The heart is considered to be the center of our intellect (Prov. 23:7); the place where we make decisions (Mark 3:5); and the center of our thoughts, will, and emotions (Luke 24:32). When our affections are readjusted, our thoughts and our actions ultimately will change.
The command in verse 2 is to “set your minds on what is above.” “Set your mind” can be translated “think” or “have this inner disposition.” The present tense of this command indicates continuous action. The believer is to not only seek heaven, but his entire life should be oriented toward heaven.
As a compass needle orients toward north, so our lives should be oriented toward Jesus Christ. Our affections, attitudes, and actions should be those of the Lord Jesus.
The question could be asked, “How do we develop a Christian mind?” Author J.P. Moreland identifies two aspects of a mature Christian mind. The first is a mind that has formed the habit of being focused on God throughout the day. Two actions that help us focus on God is memorizing scripture and meditating on the passages memorized.
The second aspect of a mature Christian mind is seeing all of life in light of a Christian worldview. A worldview is the sum total of all the things one believes. A Christian worldview is a biblically grounded set of beliefs about all of life from work and recreation to God, life after death, and morality. In such a mind there is no separation between sacred and secular.
New ways of behaving
In Colossians 3:3, Paul states a fact about every believer: “For you have died.” We read this and check our pulse and wonder what does Paul mean by “you have died.” When we trusted in Christ, God, in some inexplicable way, nailed our old nature - those desires contrary to Christ and the cross. The power sin had over your life was destroyed.
Based on the fact in verse 3, Paul gives a command in verse 5: “put to death, whatever in you is worldly.” The Christian is to connect reality with experience.
Because our old selves have been crucified with Christ, we need to behave in a way that is consistent with what has happened in us. Believers need to cut all ties with the sinful patterns of their former lives.
In verse 5, Paul mentions five sinful behaviors that Christian needs to avoid.
The first behavior on his list is “immorality.” This is the Greek word from which we get the English word pornography. This word includes any sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage.
The second behavior Christians are to put to death is “impurity.” This word describes a person whose mind, thoughts, and speech are saturated with moral filthiness.
The third and fourth behaviors Christians are to separate themselves from are lust and evil desire. This is a reference to God-given desires that are misdirected. For example, sex is not sinful, but we commit sexual sin when we fulfill our sexual desires outside of God’s will.
The fifth behavior Paul mentions is greed. At this glance greed appears out of place in this list. However, the root cause of immorality is greed or covetousness, which is an obsession with having more. Paul’s point is that all of these sins begin with the thought of participating in such behavior. This slows the importance of settings our minds on Christ.
Verse 10 states “… put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge.”
“Being renewed” refers to being new in quality. This refers to a new quality of life that never before existed.
Our old nature is decaying, but our new self is continually being renewed by God. Spiritual renewal cannot take place apart from knowledge that comes from the Word of God.
New ways of relating
In the previous Scripture passage, Paul places restrictions on a Christian’s behavior. In verses 12-14, he emphasizes that a Christian’s behavior is distinguished not by what we don’t do, but by what we do. The relationships of a Christian should be characterized by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. The attribute that should hold our relationships together is love.
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