A Scripture study from Caring, part three of four.
Part 3: Living in the New Life
In the previous sections of Colossians we’ve seen how concerned Paul was for the believers to know the truth of their faith and to reject the teachings that put extra requirements on their walk with Jesus. In 3:1-17, Paul continues in his teaching to encourage the believers in their actions as well. Right beliefs were important, but they pair with right actions as well. The teaching of Paul goes hand-in-hand here: know the truth of the Gospel and live the truth of the Gospel as well.
- Paul says to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. What earthly things still vie for your attention?
- How do we balance the reality of living in the world while also seeking the things of God?
Paul uses a powerful metaphor here of “putting on a new self.” He draws a contrast here that is familiar to many of us. When we come to faith, we become alive in the Spirit of God. This is similar to the idea of being “born again.” That phrase has taken on a life of its own in our culture, but in Scripture it’s used to emphasize the change that’s taken place. The change from old life to new life is what Paul is reminding the Colossians about. They couldn’t live like their old, dead selves anymore—it was time to live their new life after the pattern of Jesus. In the next section (3:14-16), Paul lists three key ideas for their continued walk with Christ and with each other in the faith.
Three instructions for living a new life:
1.The first instruction is in 3:14 where Paul writes to the Colossians to “put on love.” He’s continuing with the clothing metaphor he used before and it accurately portrays his wish for the believers. Love as a characteristic should cover over them and be evident to all people they encounter. Love would bring them together into harmony.
2. Next, Paul instructs them to let the peace of Jesus rule in their hearts. This points to the unity and peace of the church itself. If others were teaching errant doctrine, that wouldn’t make for a very peaceful environment, especially if the community didn’t know what to believe. Paul wanted them to focus on the true word of God and to live in the peace that Jesus brought.
3. Finally, as if to anchor both love and peace, Paul tells them to let the word of Christ dwell in them. It would be through Christ’s teaching that they would love each other, live in peace and live in the truth of God.
1. Life before and after we meet Jesus should look different. This can be hard for those of us who came to faith early in our lives, but the concept should not be totally foreign for anyone. Jesus reorients our whole way of life and his life becomes how we interpret the world around us. How has your life changed or found a new direction because of Jesus? Do you see the difference?
2. Paul’s general teaching here leads us from the ideas of true teaching, to being assured of our faith, to living in the new life of Jesus. Sometimes this process gets broken up though. We’ve probably experienced times where, though we know the truth, this knowledge doesn’t change how we live. How can we make sure our beliefs affect how we live? How can you live consistently in this manner?
- What are some things you used to do in life that don’t make sense now that you follow Jesus?
- How did your relationships with others change when you started to follow Jesus?
- Why is it a problem when our actions don’t line up with our beliefs?
- What stalls the process in life of letting our beliefs drive our actions
Sign up for the Do Good Digest, our weekly newsletter, and stay tuned next week for part four.
- Download the full study and find more like it from Caring in the Scripture study library.
- Visit westernusa.salvationarmy.org to find The Salvation Army nearest you.
- Give to support the fight for good in your community.
- Do you have a hard time telling people what you do, or what you’re passionate about and why? Ever stared at a blinking cursor, unsure of what to say or where to start? Or do you avoid writing altogether because you’re “not creative enough”? Take our free email course and find your story today.