Adapted by our team from Aynsley Younker’s message from Summer in the City, A New Kingdom, A New Way of Life.
How do we live a life of fullness? One worthy of the gospel? We’re jumping into Colossians 3, where Paul gives insight into just that:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your a life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
We were given a new identity in Christ through Christ’s death and resurrection. Now everything that follows can flow out of that redeemed state. We can take our focus off ourselves and our sin because we have been raised with Christ. We have a new life hidden with Christ in God. So setting our hearts and minds on things above is not merely a suggestion. It is a command to live aligned with Christ because we already are loved children in Christ.
I have three kids, and all of them have said this to me at one point, “I can’t wait to be big and not have anyone tell me what to do.” The myth of that kind of autonomy is that it would be our best path forward. Instead, Paul tells us that there is no neutral kingdom: we are under the submission of our King. He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness where we would otherwise dwell and put us in the kingdom of light.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering…5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:1-3, 5-7
There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, but we are also called to live differently than the world around us. Why? Because we now live in light of truth. Before Christ, all we knew was sin. It was our master, and it only led to death. But now, we live in a new kingdom under a new authority—Jesus is King, and the Holy Spirit has set us free from sin to live the lives we were created to live in glorious and joyful service to God.
We’re in the already, and the not yet.
We’ve been given everything in Christ, yet there is this tension of living on a broken planet and not feeling holy and redeemed. We’re new, but we’re being made new. We’re holy, but we’re being made holy. We are daily being sanctified—becoming more like Jesus.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
We’re saints who are chosen and holy, but we still have the capacity to sin. At the same time, we’re not without hope. Our sin does not define us, our identity, or our destiny.
Living a Christian life does not mean we will choose the right path every time. Being Christian means that when we sin, the conviction will replace the condemnation we used to feel. Struggling with sin is very different than walking in sin.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
Before we knew Jesus, we would walk in sin. But now, by the Spirit, we can cut off its oxygen supply by confessing it to God and others (James 5:16) and repenting, turning away from it, and walking in the ways of the Spirit. We put off the old and put on the new.
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
Paul is saying here that there are people speaking falsehoods instead of communicating the gospel truth. In Greek, words like rage, anger, and malice refer to words we speak.
Many things in the world vie for our allegiance to an opinion, whether in politics, social media, or any given cultural moment. This battle for our minds often pits one person against the other. We may even feel the urge to argue with or downright hate those who don’t agree with us, but as Christians, we cannot wage war against people simply because we don’t agree with their opinions. We are called to live higher.
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Sanctification means constant renewal. Put it on like a garment and sink into it. Scripture often speaks of clothing or garments to represent Christ’s blood covering us and making us clean. In Christ, God sees us as pure and holy. In Isaiah, the people of God are given a garment of praise instead of despair. In Revelation, they are seen wearing white robes.
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
The book of Colossians takes place in the context of a diverse community. There were groups of people who historically hated each other, but were now united by Christ and the qualities we share as people of God.
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Reconciliation vertically always leads to reconciliation horizontally. In other words, reconciliation between God and you will always lead to reconciliation between you and the people in your world. As our relationship with God is mended through Christ, our relationships with each other are mended as well.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
We can possess these qualities only in and through God. He exemplifies all of these characteristics for us. We forgive because He first forgave us. He is not a God who simply commands these things of us—He shows us what they look like through His example.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
God grants us peace with Him and harmony with one another. The peace that we carry with us through Jesus makes us different than those around us and is the true mark of a believer.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
When we get together, we sing, admonish, and challenge each other. The result is a community that contemplates Christ and lets Him dwell among us richly.
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.
In Colossians, Paul elevates the value of everyone in the room and speaks to them individually because that is how God sees them: worthy, loved, redeemed. God doesn’t erase distinctions; He transcends them.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
There is no relationship unaffected by the gospel. Do it all in the name of Jesus. If we are in Christ, walking with him, we are now, by the Spirit, able every day to become more and more like Him, allowing our relationship with him to permeate all of our relationships around us. He brings fullness of life when our lives are centered on His, which will be evident in all areas of our lives.