In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he boldly declares the supremacy of Christ and shows how Christ is to be central in the believer’s life. In this message (based on Colossians 3:1-17), we will unpack some practical principles for living the new life we have in Christ on a daily basis.

1. What does it mean to live life from God’s perspective?
The follower of Christ is to see themselves and their life as ‘in Christ.’ This includes being dead with Christ, buried with Christ, and raised with Christ. Our old life is gone and we are now to see ourselves intimately connected with the life and person of Jesus. This should dramatically affect our perspective on life (see vs.1-2). That doesn’t mean we become so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. However, we are to now live our life here on earth from a heavenly perspective. Because of Jesus and our new relationship with him, everything changes. It’s like putting on a new pair of glasses.

We see this vividly in Paul’s life. He was able to overcome incredibly adverse circumstances frequently throughout his life and ministry simply because he lived from another reality – Christ and his kingdom. The ‘unseen world’ affected his view of the ‘seen world.’ This did not make him in-human or oblivious to the realities of living in a fallen world in some form of escapism. It simply enabled him to live ‘above’, as it were, the natural circumstances of his life, knowing that whatever may be happening around him, Christ was alive in him and reigning over all. [Note his perspective in the following statements: Acts 20:18-24. 2 Cor.4:7-18; 5:1-10. Phil.4:4-7; 11-13]

We too, as followers of Christ, are now ‘in Christ’ and part of the kingdom of God, a kingdom of light (vs.3-4). We are to live life from God’s perspective – seeing everything through Christ and our position ‘in Him.’ We have a new orientation and focus for our lives. Eugene Peterson paraphrases Paul’s comments this way:

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective (Col.3:1-2. MB).”

2. Why is God angry?
Paul goes on to describe the old life (vs.5-9). This old way of living needs to be put to death by followers of Christ. Sins such as sexual immorality, greed, anger and lying are the cause of God’s anger (vs.6). Why is God angry?

A recent survey of Christians revealed that most believe that God is forgiving (97%) and loving (96%), but far fewer believe that God is judging (37%) or punishes those who do wrong (19%). Obviously, some people doubt that a God of love could also be angry at times. Unfortunately, when we think of anger, we tend to think of someone in a burst of temper, lashing out in annoyance and frustration. We must not project onto God our understanding of human anger, painting a picture of him erupting into some sort of tantrum and sending lightning blots to zap sinners here on earth (a common comic strip caricature of God).

Paul pictures God’s anger coming because of sin (vs.6) and elsewhere, in an extensive discussion about God’s anger, he portrays God as giving sinners over to themselves (see Romans 1:18-32). If we choose to disobey God’s intentions for our lives, God does not interfere with our free choice but simply turns us over to the consequences of those choices. The problem with sin is not only with God (although it is an assault on his character); it is with us. Choosing to sin is like drinking poison – it will eventually cause damage to our lives and the lives of those around about us. Sin carries its own destructive force. It ruins lives, distorting and destroying human relationships and our relationship with God. In other words, we are punished by the very sins we sin.

God’s anger is always redemptive in intention. Like the waiting father in the story of the prodigal son, he hopes that we will eventually come to our senses and see the consequences of our choices, then return to him. God’s anger is always an expression of his goodness, as he does not delight in punishing people but rather in seeing they live their lives the way he intended. After all, his commands are ‘for our good,’ not just for his benefit (see Deut.6:24).

3. How is a Christian supposed to live?
Living our new life in Christ is like taking off an old pair of clothes and putting on a new set of clothes (vs.12-14). The old life is like a dirty and shabby pair of clothes that don’t look good on us at all. Behaviours such as sexual sin, greed, lying, prejudice, and anger damage human relationships and misrepresent the image of God, as seen in Christ (vs.5-9, 11). The new life is likened to a pair of attractive clothes that better represent the life of Christ in us. Attitudes and behaviours such as mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience enhance human relationships and represent the life of God in human form as seen through Christ (vs.12). This change of clothes (taking off and putting on) is to be a once-for-all decisive choice, not a constant back-and-forth state of ambivalence.

Paul’s list of virtues is not an outline of religious rules we are to try to keep in our own strength in order to earn our salvation. Law codes cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit. We are saved by grace through faith, not through human effort or good works (see Eph.2:8-10). Rather, these virtues are to be the overflow of who we are now in Christ. Because we are already loved, accepted and forgiven, we now need to live as children of God reflecting his life to the world. It’s about transformation not moralistic legalism. It’s about becoming who we are in Christ, not trying to patch up the old sinful nature through self-effort. We are to now act consistently with who we are in Christ, allowing his life to live through us in our character and conduct.

Love binds all of these qualities together (vs.14) and the result is peace within the community of faith (vs.15) and grateful worship (vs.16). Finally, we are to do everything as if we were personal representatives of Christ on the earth (vs.17).

Discussion Questions
1. Discuss what it means to live life “from God’s perspective?” Consider a few metaphors or examples, such as: going to a 3D movie, Elisha’s servant having his eyes opened (2 Kings 6:15-17), or even Frank Peretti’s novel Piercing the Darkness.

2. Discuss the “anger” of God. What do you think when you hear about “God’s wrath?” What picture do you have of God and what has influenced that image?

3. Discuss the concept of sin being like a “poison” that damages our world.

4. Discuss the image of taking off an old pair of clothes (our old sinful nature) and putting on a new set of clothes (the new nature of Christ living in us).

5. What does it mean practically to do everything ‘in the name of’ or representing Christ? What does “everything” include? How can we live this out on a daily basis?

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