Colossians 3:1-14

Sunday Morning Bible Study / (Also - Men’s Retreat)

May 4, 2003

How to Live:  Jesus in Me



A couple of weeks ago I was being a very good husband and actually tried to help my wife with the wash.  I took a load of wet clothes out of the washing machine and put them into the dryer.  There was a pile of clothes sitting on top of the dryer next to the washing machine, and I scooped them all up and threw them into the washing machine.  I thought it was strange that we must have run out of those little dryer sheets, but I went ahead and started the dryer load.  I knew exactly what to do next, so I put a scoop of detergent into the washing machine and started it.  I was very proud of myself.  Of course, I forgot to take that load out when it was done and put it in the dryer, but hey, I was being so very helpful!  When my wife got home, she looked at the load of wet clothes in washing machine and gasped.  “What is all this stuff?” she said.  There was a strange wet cardboard like stuff all through the clothes.  And there was this white cloth-like material all wrapped up in the wet clothes.  Finally, my wife figured it all out.  “Where’s the dryer-sheets?”  Then we realized that I had scooped up the box of dryer-sheets and thrown them into the wash.  When the clothes got washed, the box of dryer sheets got washed.

Somehow, as Jesus was dying on the cross, we got scooped up and thrown into the washing machine with Him.  When He died, so did we.  His death wasn’t just to pay for our sins, it actually affects our daily lives.  Part of how it affects us is that we must learn to “die” to our sin.  We have to go through a death.

He’s already been showing us that we have died with Christ and have been raised with Him as well:

Death and Life:

(Col 2:12-13 KJV)  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. {13} And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;


(Col 2:20 KJV)  Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

Now Paul is going to talk about the reality of living for Jesus, having His life in us, not just about having received Jesus as Lord, but walking with Him (Col. 2:6).

1-4 Things above

:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

affectionphroneo – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for

This was the word that was used much in Philippians, the idea of being “minded” in a certain way.

Paul had written,

(Col 2:16 KJV)  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

I think that some of us spend way too much time worrying about what others think of us.  We spend too much time trying to please other people, to make them happy, to keep them from “judging” us.

Instead, we ought to be concerned about keeping our eyes on Jesus and simply be concerned about pleasing Him.

There’s an old phrase, “Don’t be so heavenly-minded that you’re no earthly good”.

I think that there can be a time when a person gets caught up in religiousness so much that this can be true.

But I think that if we are going to be “heavenly-minded” in the way that Paul is talking about, we’ll be extremely good on earth.

I think that too often we’re simply too “earthly-minded” to be of any “heavenly-good”

:5-7 What to die to

:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth;

Mortifynekroo – to make dead, to put to death, slay; worn out; of an impotent old man; to deprive of power, destroy the strength of.  Aorist active imperative.


Learning to die

We died with Christ.  There are things that need to be a part of that death.
If you attempt to talk with a dying man about sports or business, he is no longer interested. He now sees other things as more important. People who are dying recognize what we often forget, that we are standing on the brink of another world.

-- William Law in Christian Perfection 

:5 fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

fornication porneia – illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, any kind of sex outside the boundary of marriage.

We are living in a sex-saturated society.  Madison Avenue counts on the fact that sex “sells”.  Ads, billboards, commercials all seem to carry sexual-innuendo.  One of the things that results from this in men is a feeding of our sinful appetites.  It feeds our flesh and then we get surprised that we go off into sinful behavior.

uncleanness akatharsia – uncleanness; physical; in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful living

It sounds to me like simply being “filthy” – on the inside.

inordinate affectionpathos – in the NT in a bad sense, depraved passion, vile passions

concupiscence epithumia – desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

“evil lusts”; craving for the wrong things.

covetousness pleonexia – greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice

We don’t often look at this as being as evil as the other things.  Pornography, drugs, sure they’re definitely evil.  But working hard to have a really nice house and drive a fancy car?  How can that be bad?

God says it’s bad.

idolatryeidololatreia – the worship of false gods, idolatry; of avarice, as a worship of Mammon

These kinds of sins amount to idolatry because they take our focus off of God.


Practical help

Are you going to get serious about the problem?
Are you willing to admit you need help?  Who are you going to admit it to?

I think that sometimes it’s just fine to admit to God that you have a problem.

But I think for many of us, it’s time to admit that we’ve been fooling ourselves and we need to broaden our “confession” and bring another person on board with our problem.

You need to receive God’s forgiveness.
If you’ve confessed your sin, God will forgive.

(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

You need to stop whatever you’re doing.  Right now.

I heard David Hocking the other day on the radio talk about how we are to deal with our sin.  He said we are to stop it.  He gave an example of a guy who came up to him after church and asked for prayer to stop smoking.  David said to him, “So you want to stop smoking?”  The guy said, “Yes”.  David could see a pack of cigarettes in the guy’s pocket, so he began to reach out and take them.  The guy hit David’s hand and said, “Is this a pastor kind of thing?  What are you doing?”  David said, “I’m going to take your cigarettes away.”  Finally the guy let him take them, and they flushed them down a toilet.  Then David said, “You have a van, don’t you?  Can you take me to your van so we can get rid of any cigarettes there?”  The guy said, “Oh, there’s no cigarettes there.”  But they went to the guy’s van, and found 12 packs of cigarettes.  The guy said, “But that’s a lot of money I’ve spent on those”.  David said, “Do you want to quit?”

It’s not enough to just get clean.  We need to stay clean.

Finding the right person.  Sometimes it’s your wife.  Sometimes it’s another brother.  Someone who will accept you and help you experience God’s grace and forgiveness.  Someone who will be tough enough on you to actually check up on you.

:6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

These things are the very reason why the world will one day be judged.

(Rev 16:1-8; 15 KJV)  And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

Revelation 16 is just the last bit of God’s wrath that will be poured out during the coming Tribulation.  But it certainly gives you a hint of what God’s wrath is all about.

{2} And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. {3} And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea. {4} And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. {5} And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. {6} For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. {7} And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

The angels in heaven see what we do.  They know what we deserve.  And when they see God’s wrath being poured out, they agree that God is completely correct in bringing judgment.

{8} And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire…

More and more plagues are poured out on the earth…

{15} Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

This is a little side note given by Jesus.  We ought to be getting the point here.  This is what Colossians 3:6 is about.  These are the things that happen as a consequence of our sin.

We might have thought that our “little sin” doesn’t really hurt anybody.  We’re wrong.

It hurts us.  It hurts the people around us.

:8-11 What to put off

:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

malice kakia – malignity, malice, ill-will, desire to injure

filthy communication aischrologia – foul speaking, low and obscene speech

What kind of language does our Risen Lord use?  Do we say things that reflect the fact that a Risen Lord is alive in us?  I don’t think this means that we can’t have a sense of humor or tell jokes.  Just keep them clean.

:9 Lie not one to another


Live in the truth.

Part of growing up is learning to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)
When we are constantly wondering what “story” we should tell certain people, when we can’t even be honest with ourselves about certain things, we’re not going to grow up.

:10 And have put on the new man

Just as we are to put to death those areas of sin in our lives because we have been crucified with Him, there is a practical application to the Resurrection.

There are things we are to become “alive” to, things that are supposed to be happening in our life.


Soon after Augustine’s conversion, he was walking down the street in Milan, Italy.  There he accosted a prostitute whom he had known most intimately.  She called but he would not answer. He kept right on walking.  “Augustine,” she called again.  “It is I!”  Without slowing down, but with assurance of Christ in his heart, he testified, “Yes, but it is no longer I.”  Although young in the faith, he knew something of a solicitation to do evil and the way of victory over temptation.  His reply, “It is no longer I,” expresses a realization that he had a new power available to combat the forces of sin and evil which would seek to dominate his life.  He was a changed man.

:12-17 What to put on

:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

put onenduo – to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self


What to focus on – Fill the Hole

I think that these are the things that Paul was talking about when he said to “set your mind on the things above”.
These are the kinds of things to be focusing on.
I think there is a sense in which we need to always be watchful that we don’t slip back into our old sins, but we need to have a new focus on life.
We shouldn’t be solely focusing on what NOT to do.
God’s desire isn’t that we just stop our sin, but that we fill the void.
Jesus said,

(Mat 12:43-45 KJV)  When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. {44} Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. {45} Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

We need to “fill” the house.


A man who drank heavily was converted to Christ and lived victoriously for several weeks.  One day as he passed the open door of a tavern, the pungent odor drifting out aroused his old appetite for liquor.  Just then he saw this sign in the window of a nearby cafe: “All the buttermilk you can drink -- 25 cents!” Dashing inside, he ordered one glass, then another, and still another.  After finishing the third he walked past the saloon and was no longer tempted.  He was so full of buttermilk that he had no room for that which would be injurious to him.  The lesson is clear:  to be victorious over our evil desires, we must leave no opportunity for them to repossess us.

Victory doesn’t come just by working hard to eliminate our sinful habits.  We need to let the Spirit of God fill our lives, and fill our lives with these kinds of things.

bowelssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, the ancients thought that the emotions came from the “bowels”, not the “heart”.

merciesoiktirmos – compassion, pity, mercy; bowels in which compassion resides, a heart of compassion; emotions, longings, manifestations of pity

kindness chrestotes – moral goodness, integrity; benignity, kindness.  Doing good things for others.

humbleness of mind tapeinophrosune – the having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness; modesty, humility, lowliness of mind

I think one of the best ways of not only learning humility, but maintaining humility is through being a servant.

Jesus taught this by example.  He was a servant.  On the night He was to be betrayed, He served the disciples by washing their feet (John 13).  He did the lowliest of jobs.

When you find yourself reacting to a job by saying to yourself, “I don’t do this kind of lowly stuff anymore …”, you’ve lost your humility.

meekness praotes – gentleness, mildness, meekness.  Another concept of this word is “strength under control”

longsuffering makrothumia – patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance; patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs

:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

forbearing anechomai – to hold up; to hold one’s self erect and firm; to sustain, to bear, to endure

To hold up each other - ACCOUNTABILITY

forgiving charizomai – to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favour to, gratify; to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent; to grant forgiveness, to pardon; to give graciously, give freely, bestow; to forgive; graciously to restore one to another; to preserve for one a person in peril

We might translate this, “grace one another”.


Learn grace

Jon Courson:  Grace isn’t just the starting point for the Christian, it’s the WHOLE POINT.
There’s a story about Jesus and two other people.  As we read through the passage, which of the people do you most identify with?  Do you treat others like Jesus or like Simon the Pharisee?  Can you relate at all to the woman in the story?
(Luke 7:36-50 KJV)  And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. {37} And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, {38} And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. {39} Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. {40} And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. {41} There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. {42} And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? {43} Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. {44} And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. {45} Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. {46} My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. {47} Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. {48} And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. {49} And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? {50} And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
There are times when we are working hard to stay away from sin, but it’s our own doing, our own legalism that drives us.  Rather than being a work of the Holy Spirit, driven by God’s incredible grace, it becomes a work that we strive at.  Then we become resentful of others who aren’t working as hard as we are and who aren’t staying away from that wonderful, delicious sin that we are trying so hard to stay away from.
The result is Pharisaism, where we become critical and judgmental of anyone who has any sin in their lives.
Don’t become a bitter person who forgets what it’s like to have receive forgiveness from Jesus.

Paul wrote,

(1 Cor 4:7 NLT)  What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?

Sometimes the trap comes when I think that I really have accomplished something that is pretty special.  But nobody seems to notice.  Or they don’t give me the kind of credit or applause that I think I deserve.
When this happens, I’ve lost the sense of grace.  I’ve started to think that I’ve got what it takes to be worth something, yet all that I have that is good is from Jesus, not me.
Another trap comes when I think that since I don’t have anything worthwhile in myself to offer to others, that I should forget about stepping out in ministry to help others.
I may not have anything to offer others, but Jesus does.  Let Him work through you.