Monday, February 11, 2013

           "Clothe Yourselves With Christ”
International Sunday School Lesson for February 17, 2013

Scripture Text: Colossians 3:5-17

Purpose: To discern what is put aside and what is taken on when we follow Christ

Colossians 3:5-17 (CEB)
5So put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth, such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6The wrath of God is coming upon disobedient people because of these things. 7You used to live this way, when you were alive to these things. 8But now set aside these things, such as anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene language. 9Don’t lie to each other. Take off the old human nature with its practices 10and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. 11In this image there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all people.
12Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. 16The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Today's lesson contrast the difference between sincere followers of Christ and the philosophy being taught by the distractors addressed in last week's lesson.

When a portion of text opens with the words “so,” or “therefore” you know it is referencing a previous verse. So verse 5 is connected to the previous verses (1-4). Paul is encouraging those in the church at Colossi, to turn from the worldly and personal satisfaction, and think on a higher level, think instead about higher things, such as a risen Christ instead of the things on earth that bring a selfish sense of happiness.

The verses that follow are Paul's idea of how a true follower of Christ should behave. Paul begins by listing 11 things that a true follower of Christ should not do. (verse 5, 8-9) The first 5 all have to do with sexual immorality and practices, parenthetically Paul explains why greed is really “idolatry.” In Jewish thought, placing someone or something on the same level as God is idolatry. Acting out of greed rather than love is contrary to God's call on his people. The second five, plus lying, all deal with relationships within a community. Anger, rage, malice, slander and obscene language, are all relationship breakers, but the biggest may be “telling lies” to each other and about each other.

When Paul says, (vs 1) “put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth.” he is restating his position found in Galatians 2:20 which says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Those old things have been put to death just as Christ was put to death by the crucifixion.

When we put on the image of Christ, we should no longer think in terms of Greek or Jew, barbarians or nomads, slaves or free, but we should look for the Christ that dwells within each of these.

Now Paul in verse 12, states those things that followers of Christ should do. While the things listed here are not all the same as the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.  They are very similar an there is some overlapping.

Paul states in verse 14 “And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” In Paul's first letter to the the church at Corinth chapter 13 verse 7 Paul says, “7Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Peace evolves from love.

Without Christ in our lives it is unnatural for us to exhibit the virtues Paul list. How is it possible to love those that you don't agree with or even like? When we see love as a decision and not a feeling, love is a decision to act in the best interest of others, only then can we love our enemies and those that persecute us, as commanded by Christ. (Matt. 5:44) In this way we can love those we do not like or those that irritate us. Love takes a commitment from us to do what is best for our enemies, love is not about affection. Amazingly over time we might change if we keep acting in love, affections can grow out of such a relationship. In the end we should be thankful, with Christ living in us, with gratitude in our hearts for all that has been done for us. Always giving thanks to God, that has provided a way for us through Christ to obtain both peace and love in our lives.

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