Explore the Bible Study: The Gospel Lived

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What steps do you take if you desire to . . . lose weight, buy a house, or plan for retirement? All life-decisions such as these require us to make adjustments and lifestyle changes. This is equally true when one receives Christ. Changes are to take place in one's life because he has been changed by Christ! This is the focus of the Explore the Bible Study: The Gospel Lived.

Just as we do certain things in order to prepare for life events, as believers we should be making adjustments in our lives. Knowing Christ means we have hope for a promised future, but in between is a life of preparation and growth. We aren’t making changes in order to be saved, we are making changes because we ARE saved! We should ask the question daily, 

“Since I am a Christian, what must I do now?”

Paul helps us answer this question today as we focus on how we should live the gospel.

Paul begins, in Colossians 3:1-4, by reminding us of WHY we should live the gospel.

Paul says a believer lives the gospel by seeking things and setting his mind on things above. Seeking things above refers to heavenly things, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. To seek heavenly things means to desire and pursue the things that center in Christ, and which reflect a personal connection with Him – outward actions.  Setting our minds on things above focuses upon our inner disposition or mindset that lies behind our outward actions. Paul is not saying Christians should withdraw from the real world. While living in this present world, believers are to view present things against the backdrop of eternity.

Why should the promise given in verse 4 motivate us to seek things and set our minds on things above?

Right thinking and acting is not the doorway into the Christian life but is the walkway we occupy as a result of having come to God through Christ. The heart relationship with Christ that is the present but invisible explanation for our newness of life will one day be openly manifested when Christ, who is your life, appears. These words speak of the return of Christ. That will be a glorious day with Him in glory when believers will be on open display with Christ at His coming. In the meanwhile, believers are to focus on Christ and the life He provides them.

Paul begins verse 4 with a phrase, “When Christ, who is your life.” Is Christ truly your life? If He is, then we will strive to live as Paul describes in the next passages.

Paul tells us HOW we live the gospel in verse 5-14 if Christ is our life.

The instructions Paul gives are not one-time acts but continual actions.

  • First, Paul says there are things we should continue to put to death. Notice the correlations between verse 5 and verses 3-4. Believers have died—to sin—and their lives are hidden (buried) with Christ.  In Romans 6:11 Paul explains it this way: So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Christ, who is your life, who has made you alive to God in Christ Jesus, will appear one day and you will appear with Him. The spiritual reality is that all believers “went to the cross” with Christ and were crucified, buried, and raised with Him. Now we have the Holy Spirit living in us to enable us to live holy lives. Our position is “in Christ” (v. 11), but we also live in a wicked world with its powerful influence for evil. Maintaining a heavenly focus is a lifelong process of working out practically what God has done within us.

Because you have died with Christ you should put to death (v. 5) that which has already been killed—the sin nature!

  • Second, Paul says we are to continually put away things as well. Rather than saying these things or vices must be put to death, he said these must be put away. Like Lazarus when Jesus raised him from the dead, we must put away our grave clothes and put on new ones. We’d never think of putting on new, clean clothes over old, soiled ones. Basically, you are to clean up your life so the new clothes you have put on won’t continually be soiled by the actions of the past.
  • This leads us to Paul’s third instruction. Because we have put on a new self we should be renewed (v. 10) by continually putting on Christ. All believers are to act and live in unity because Christ is all and in all who believe (v. 11). All our ethnic, racial, cultural, historical, or political bias should take a back seat to who we are now in Christ (v. 11). Because we are God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved (v. 12) we are to act and live differently. We are to put on the things which reflect who we are supposed to be in Christ.

Below is a chart of the things Paul says we are to put to death, put away, and put on. Consider how well you are doing with what Paul says should be done by one who says that Christ is his/her life.

Put to Death

  • Sexual immorality:  The perverted sexual pursuits that takes one captive.
  • Impurity: Another possible translation is “uncleanness.” Impurities always weaken what it comes in touch with.
  • Lust: The word refers to evil passions, those desires we allow to live in our minds and hearts that fester and eventually lead us into acts of sin.
  • Evil desire:  The inward yearning and craving for sins of the flesh that dwell within us.
  • Greed: The selfish desire to have more and more. Paul says greed is an expression of idolatry.

Put Away

  • Anger: A slow boiling attitude ready to explode.
  • Wrath: The acute manifestation or explosion of anger.
  • Malice:  The “mental brew” that remains after outbursts of anger and wrath.
  • Slander:  Verbal offenses against both God and people.
  • Filthy language:  Low and obscene speech in our daily conversations.
  • Lying to one another.

Put On

  • Heartfelt Compassion:  Pity, tenderheartedness.
  • Kindness:  A helpful and friendly spirit that provides for others’ needs through kind deeds.
  • Humility:  Recognizing one’s own weakness as well as God’s power.
  • Gentleness:  A mild and tempered character that understands the importance of demonstrating mercy toward others because God showed mercy to us.
  • Patience:  Comes from a Greek word meaning “slow to anger.”
  • Accept one another: To bear with, to endure, to put up with someone.
  • Forgive one another:  We should forgive those who wrong us because the Lord has forgiven us.
  • Above all, put on love:  The one virtue that welds together the body of Christ in perfect unity. In first-century cultures the common and universal piece of clothing called the sash or girdle completed one’s dressing for the day. This garment integrated all the others, and it held all the others in place.

Are you Living the Gospel Life?

  • If you were to write out a list of the changes that have occurred in your life since you trusted Christ as Savior, which of the “Put on” items would be included?

  • Does this list reveal things that you are still struggling to “Put to death” or “Put away”?

Most of us can look at this list and discover we still have a lot of growing-in-Christ that needs to take place.

Paul reminds us of something very important in verses 15-17: And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We would do well to understand that we can’t live out the gospel without one another. We need each other. Notice the words Paul uses that indicate that we can’t go about this alone. He says we are one body. The Word of Christ is to dwell richly among us. We are to teach and admonish one another. Paul says this takes place in the context of gathering as God’s people to worship and study God’s Word. Finally, he tells us that that whatever we do should be to glorify Christ and should be done with a grateful heart.

This is how we live the gospel so others might see Christ in us.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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