Thursday, April 29, 2010 - Living to a Higher Standard
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven" (Col. 3:16--4:1)
Life is about standards. Whether it be in school, sports, work or homelife, we each have standards by which we are "judged." But what about as a Christian? By what standards are we judged and how should that play a role in how we live our lives?
Think about the first three verses of Col. 3:
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
This establishes the attitude with which we approach this topic.If we are new creatures, baptized into Christ, then our goals and desires are not related to this earth but to the spiritual realm, which is above.This being true, we also think differently.We do not think in the same manner as those of the world, but in the manner of those who are spiritual.This means we seek to serve the Lord with all of our mind, soul, and body.There is no thought of pleasing self but of pleasing God by being loyal and obedient with all of our hearts.That does not leave any room for adding to or taking from His Word.No excuses are offered -- no second-guessing or consideration of other alternatives are considered. There is no thought that one can improve upon what God has given, that it really was not intended the way it appears, or that God will not mind if we make changes.That type of thinking is of the world and not of Heaven. When Jesus included in His teaching on prayer the words, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10), they were not idle words. Surely, no one doubts that in Heaven the will of God is carried out without deviation.The Old Testament is filled with both teachings and examples that reflect God's provision of adequate instructions; He demands complete trust and obedience.
Paul admonishes those who are risen with Christ to put off those things which relate to this world of sin and to put on righteousness that is of Heaven.Having listed a number of changes that must occur, he then states, "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful" (Col. 3:14-15).As is so frequently stressed, love becomes a central or focal point -- a love that leads one to earnestly desire to please God (1 John 5:3).
Beginning in Col. 3:16, we see that those who have risen with Christ are now to change their lives and above all else, put on charity (love).That may be easy to say, but how is it to be accomplished?It should be simple enough merely to say such things as "Do not lie" and "Put on the new man."However, we sometimes need a little encouragement or to be reminded of the source of our guidance.It might be similar to a parent giving instructions to a child.The child asks, "Why?"The parent may well reply, "Because I told you."
Paul strengthens his prior comments by telling the brethren in Colossae to let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly in all wisdom.Although the statement does not end there, it is very significant standing alone.Our failure in this one area is the source of so many of our problems as individuals and within the Lord's body.Too few have a knowledge of God's Word.The number grows even smaller when you consider those whose lives are so filled with God's Word that it literally lives in them.The Word is in their lives lavishly, in great abundance, and it is very precious. Being of great value, the Word is not misused, as one who possesses great earthly wealth may be wasteful.The Word is cherished, protected because of its great value, used with care, and shared freely with others.It fills their hearts and directs their thoughts and actions.From it flows that wisdom from above.
It should come as no surprise of the powerful nature of Col. 3:17.God from the beginning has demanded complete obedience by man. From Genesis through Malachi, the nature of God, with His power and His attitude toward obedience and disobedience, is demonstrated over and over again.Later, Jesus proclaimed, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18).His power and authority are illustrated in such a manner that they are beyond question.The life, miracles, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus stand alone in the annals of history.Peter proclaimed, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).Paul declares in Phil. 2:9-11:
"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
The entire Book of Hebrews proclaims the greatness of Christ.He is superior to the angels, to Abraham, to Moses, to Aaron, to the priesthood (Heb. 1--8), and to the many sacrifices which could not take away sin (Heb. 10:3-4).Even the law was but a shadow of good things to come (Heb. 10:1). Only in the sacrifice of Jesus is the forgiveness of sins and salvation possible (Heb. 10:10-13).He purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28).The Father has highly elevated Him and has "put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:18-23). There are many other such passages, but these should be sufficient to establish His position and power.
What does the foregoing material have to do with Col. 3:17?The impact of this verse reaches back into prior verses, forward into verses to follow, and has an impact upon other writings as well.How much latitude does this leave man to decide his own conduct?The answer must be that man has no more authority than the Lord has given Him. Looking back to Col. 3:16, how much authority does man have to add to or take away anything from the worship the Lord has commanded?The answer must be "none," unless one can find it spelled out in the Bible.
If I am acting in the name of someone else, I am acting under that person's authority.When we give someone a power of attorney, that person acts on our behalf of and according to the instruction contained in the document.As an employee, one may act on behalf of the person or the company for which he works.Once again, the employee is expected to act solely within the authority vested in him.As soon as one severs his relationship with an employer, he can expect to lose all authority to act on the employer's behalf.It is obvious that any authority an employee possessed was by virtue of his association with that company and the power it granted to him as an employee. As Christians, we are to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."Where is there any room or authority to act on behalf of ourselves or Satan?If one elects to do other than he is authorized to do, then he has breached his relationship with the Lord.Would we want someone who was acting on our behalf to fail to carry out our instructions?The answer is obvious. Would we not expect God to feel the same way?God told Jeremiah not to pray for the people.He would not hear their cries or accept their sacrifices, and He would consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.Jeremiah responded by telling God the prophets had said exactly the opposite.
"Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them" (Jer. 14:14-16).
Are not the prophets free to say what they wish?Yes, they can say whatever they desire.However, they were speaking without any authority from God, yet presenting what they said as though it came from God. They lied, and their words were rejected.Is there any reason to expect things are any different today when men tell us that God is pleased with conduct that is clearly not sanctioned by the Bible?
If an employee consistently acts outside of the authority given him, how long is he likely to be employed?He probably will not last very long. His attitude and conduct are likely to be found unacceptable if he steps outside of his authority just one time and then refuses to acknowledge his error, correct it, and change his attitude.Most employers do not want disobedient employees.
Note that our actions are not to follow our own desires, but those of Christ -- and with the proper attitude.In the process of obedience we are to give thanks to God and the Father by Him. There is no doubt that murmuring or dragging of our feet is unacceptable.What is desired is conduct that has been authorized by Christ, accompanied with thanksgiving growing out of having the Word dwell in us richly.This is a person who loves God and finds pleasure in obedience, knowing that it is for his own good on earth and is the means whereby Heaven becomes his home.His primary interest is in knowing what God wants him to do, and there is no interest in seeing how close he can get to sin without sinning.As a result, he is not plagued by many of the temptations that overcome others.
Not all who are baptized go on to become true disciples of the Lord. Many fall away and give up even the outward appearance of serving Christ. Many others never rise above the level of “a babe” in Christ. Many fall repeatedly to temptation and struggle year after year to overcome sin in their lives. Many become frustrated with failure as they try to make progress toward spiritual excellence. There is a serious need for us to think about the causes of unfaithfulness and unfruitfulness.
On the positive side, we need to think about how we can be motivated to seek the Lord more diligently. What is involved in true conversion and consecration to the Lord? What are the elements that produce real disciples: people who are deeply devoted to Christ?
How well are you living up to the "Christ like standard?"