Peace Rules

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

What rules in your heart?

For some people anger rules in their heart. For others it is passion. Some have comfort ruling in their heart.

In Colossians 3:15 the Apostle Paul told believers in Jesus that the peace of God should rule in their hearts. It’s a wonderful and remarkable statement.

First, it is the peace of God – not the peace of man, not the peace of surrender, not the peace of compromise. God’s peace is both the peace He has and the peace He gives. God lives in perfect peace. He isn’t anxious or troubled about anything. Jesus gave us the gift of God’s perfect peace (John 14:27), and by faith this peace can be ours and can rule in our hearts.

When peace rules in my heart, I can let God’s peace guide me regarding decisions and issues. One path may have God’s peace upon it and the other may be disturbed and conflicted. If I have no sense of God’s peace in any direction, perhaps it is time to wait altogether.

This may work in an individual way, where a person is guided and confirmed in direction by their sense of the peace of God. But the idea here is much bigger than the individual. Notice first that Paul wrote about hearts in the plural, not in the singular. It has the idea of hearts gathered together, not in isolation.

Even more, Paul added the thought to which also you were called in one body. When God called us together in one body, He called us together in peace. When peace rules among us, it means that peace should characterize the community of God’s people. If as a group of people we are characterized by anger and arguing, or by conflict and confusion, then it isn’t God’s peace.

When people look at our churches and our Christian communities, they should be able to say, “Look at the peace among those people. The peace of God certainly rules here.”

So if anything else has taken the rule over your heart, tell it to step aside. No longer should anger or passion or comfort rule in your heart. As the power of the crucified and risen Jesus fills your life, the peace of God will reign. And as Paul wrote at the end of Colossians 3:15, that’s something to be thankful for.

Put On Love

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. (Colossians 3:14)

When we appreciate the context, Colossians 3:14 is a stunning and beautiful statement.

In Colossians 3 the Apostle Paul wrote about bad behavior Christians should put off: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5) and anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language (Colossians 3:8). Then he wrote about good behavior Christians should put on: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving (Colossians 3:12-13).

After all that, Paul wrote this remarkable sentence: But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Note those words: above all these things.

Christian, you have put off fornication and evil desire – wonderful! Have you put on love?

You have put off anger and filthy language – what a blessing! Have you put on love?

You have put on kindness and humility – God be praised! Have you put on love?

No matter what else there is in our life, if we lack love then we lack the greatest thing. Yet in another sense we can say that love is the summary of all the things described in Colossians 3. Love perfectly fulfills what God requires of us in relationships.

If we truly pursue love, we will truly pursue all those other things. Love will lead us to them. Yet, if we pursue those other virtues without love, things will get distorted and imbalanced.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul was bold enough to call love the bond of perfection. The idea of bond here is something like a chain or a rope that ties us up. Love binds us to God and binds us to each other, and it does so in a perfect way. In the best way, we need love as a tie that binds, bonding us to God and each other.

So, put on love.

Put on God’s love for you; this is the foundation of everything.
Put on your love for God that comes as a response to His love for you.
Put on the love He gives you for your brothers and sisters in Jesus.
Put on the love He Himself has for a lost, needy world.

Truly, this is the bond of perfection.

Forgive As He Forgave You

Forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12-13)

It’s one of the hardest things to do in life – to truly forgive someone who has wronged you. It may be especially difficult when the one who harmed you is a brother or sister in Jesus Christ. Yet, God commands His people to forgive, and especially to forgive one another.

To help us know how we should forgive, God gave us an example, a pattern: even as Christ forgave you, so you must also do. Understanding the way Jesus forgave us will always make us more generous with forgiveness, and never less generous.

Jesus told a parable with that exact point, found in Matthew 18:21-35. The point of the parable is that those who have been forgiven have a special obligation to forgive those who sin against them. To say it simply, Jesus forgave us, so we have a special obligation to forgive others.

When one thinks of how Christ forgave you it should make us much more generous with forgiveness.

God reaches out to bad people to bring them forgiveness; the habit of man is to not forgive if the offending person is a person of bad character.

God makes the first move towards us in forgiveness; the habit of man is to only forgive if the offending party really wants it and makes the first move.

God forgives often knowing that we will sin again, sometimes in the exact same way. It is the habit of man to forgive only if the offending party solemnly promises to never do the wrong again.

God’s forgiveness is so complete and glorious that He grants adoption to those former offenders. In the habit of man, even when forgiveness is offered, he will not lift again the former offender to a place of high status and partnership.

God bore all of the penalty for the wrong we did against Him. In the habit of man, when he is wronged, he will not forgive unless the offender agrees to bear all or most of the penalty for the wrong done.

God keeps reaching out to man to forgive him even when man refuses Him again and again. In the habit of man, one will not continue to offer forgiveness if it is rejected even once.

God requires no probationary period to receive His forgiveness; in the habit of man, one will not restore an offender without a period of probation.

God’s forgiveness offers complete restoration and honor; in the habit of man, we feel we should be complimented when we merely tolerate those who sin against us.

This is a depth of forgiveness that we can only practice if the power of Jesus flows in us and through us. Is there someone you haven’t forgiven, especially a brother or sister in Jesus? Receive the forgiveness of Jesus, receive His strength and love, and forgive them in the mighty name of Jesus. Not only is it the best for them; it’s the best for you.

The Community of New People in Jesus

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12-13)

In Colossians chapter 3 the Apostle Paul wrote of the amazing work of God does in making His people new men (and women) in Jesus Christ. We are to put off the old man made after the pattern of Adam, and put on our new and true identity: the new man, made after the pattern of Jesus Christ.

That is an individual work that happens one by one. Yet those new men and women in Jesus are to live together in God’s family, and that means they have to learn how God wants the community of new people in Jesus to get along with each other.

Paul says that as we put on the new man, we also put on tender mercies, kindness, and humility. Don’t miss the fact that each one of the qualities listed here express themselves in relationships. An important measure of our Christian life is found simply in how we treat people and the quality of our relationships with them.

Paul didn’t include other virtues like efficiency, intelligence, diligence, or hard work. That wasn’t because those this are not important – they are. Yet God wanted to speak first to how we get along with our brothers and sisters in Jesus.

So, put on tender mercies. If something is tender, it is sensitive to touch. God wants us to be sensitive to each other, especially in our display of mercy.

So, put on kindness. This speaks of the attitude that holds my neighbor’s good as dear as my own good. It puts away harshness and looks to make things easier for others, not more difficult.

So, put on humility, which is something of a parent to both meekness and longsuffering. The humble person’s actions towards others will be marked by meekness, meaning that I will not dominate, manipulate, or coerce for my own ends, even if I have the power and the ability to do so. The humble person’s reactions will be marked by longsuffering, meaning that I will not become impatient, short, or filled with resentment towards the weaknesses and sins of others.

In all this, we are bearing with one another. We don’t abandon or give upon each other. We’re family, the new men and women called together into His family. One might be tempted to give up on strangers, but we’re family, all chosen together in Jesus.

New men and new women can only get along with each other as we put off the old, put on the new, and live like the new people God had made us. Make that your desire and prayer this very week.

Put On The New Man from Colosians 3

Put It On

And have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:10-11)

In the previous few verses Paul told Christians about things to put off – the ungodly and sinful conduct that marked our old life. We were supposed to put those things off like an old, stained, ruined suit of clothes.

But putting off is incomplete without putting on. That’s why Paul told us, “put on the new man.” Again, the phrase Paul used was commonly used for changing a set of clothes. We can almost picture a person taking off the old and putting on the new man in Jesus. So when we put on the “suit” of the new man, what does he look like?

First, the new man is renewed in knowledge. This means the new man is hungry to know what God says in His Word.

Next, the new man is according to the image of Him who created him. Paul clearly had in mind Genesis 1:27, where it is said that God created Adam in His own image. Nevertheless, now the first Adam is regarded as the old man who should be put off and discarded, because now we are created after the image of the second Adam, Jesus Christ.

Because everyone in the family of God is a new man (or woman) according to the image of Him who created him, then in a sense we are all the same. That’s why Paul wrote, there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free. The new man is part of a family, which favors no race, nationality, class, culture or ethnicity. It only favors Jesus, because in this new family, Christ is all and in all.

The wonderful truth is that this work of the new creation not only deals with the old man and gives us the new man patterned after Jesus Christ; it also breaks down the barriers that separate people in society. Among new creation people it doesn’t matter if one is Greek or Jew or circumcised or uncircumcised or a Scythian or a slave or a free man. All those barriers are broken down.

All of these were strong barriers in the ancient Roman world; and the power of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ broke them all down. In that, Christianity brought something truly wonderful into the world—as new men and new women, we all belong to the same family.

We could say it is a four-step process:

  1. By faith in Jesus, put off the old man with the image of rebellious Adam.
  2. By faith in Jesus, put on the new man with the image of obedient Jesus.
  3. Renew yourself in knowledge by reading and thinking about God’s word.
  4. Consciously live as part of the “new man family.”

Doing those four things could make this the best week you’ve had in a long time!

Put It Off

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:8-9)

In the previous verses Paul wrote to Christians about the kind of sins they should give up and consider themselves dead to. Paul wrote about sins we normally consider notorious—sexual sins and greed. Here we see that Paul thought we should be concerned with more than notorious sins; we should be concerned with all sins, even what we might think of as “lesser” sins.

That’s why Paul wrote, now you yourselves are to put off all these. The sins Paul here listed (anger, wrath, and so forth) are regarded by many as “little” sins that Christians may overlook with little danger. God challenges us to put off the old man in every area of our lives.

The phrase put off is exactly that which would be used for taking of a suit of clothes. It’s as if Paul meant, “Now that you belong to Jesus, even these sins don’t fit you any more. Take them off like you would an old, dirty, bad-fitting suit of clothes.”

Take a good look at the sins listed here: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language and speaking the lie. Each of these sins are primarily committed by what we say. When Paul called the believer to a deeper obedience, he told us to bridle our tongue, as did James in James 1:26 and 3:1-9.

The other thing to notice about this list is it has to do with sins we commit as we relate to each other. We get angry with others, we harbor malice towards others, and we lie to each other. So as Paul listed sins in Colossians 3:5-9, he showed two high priorities in Christian living: sexual morality connected with a right attitude towards material things, and simply getting along in love with one another.

It is easy for a Christian community to compromise one for the other, but Paul (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) insisted that they both have a high place in the Christian life.

You have put off the old man with his deeds means that in Jesus Christ, the saints of God are different people. Therefore, when we feel tempted to immorality or anger, we should regard it as an unwelcome intruder that has no right to stay. The real you is the new man; the old man is put off.

Past and Present

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. (Colossians 3:5-7)

In Colossians 3:1-4 Paul told us that for the Christian, Jesus Christ is now their life and we are identified with the risen and enthroned Jesus. In light of that, he told believers that we must put to death the things in our life that are contrary to our identity with Jesus.

We put these things to death in the sense of denying them, and considering them dead to us and us dead to them. When we gratify a sensual appetite we give that appetite the food and nourishment that makes it thrive. When treat ungodly, sensual desires as if they were dead, we deny them strength to influence our life.

Paul then listed many specific sins that we are to die to. It was important to list and name these sins as Paul did. We need to specifically and individually deal with such areas of habit and temptation.

Paul began by describing sexual sins: Fornication, uncleanness, passion and evil desire. Sex is a wonderful gift from God, but is easily and often corrupted and perverted. Christians need to recognize Jesus as Lord over all their life, including their sexuality.

Yet, it isn’t that the only sins Christian are concerned with have to do with sex. Paul went on to also name covetousness. That desire for more and more is simple, but it is nothing less than idolatry.

G. Campbell Morgan listed three ways that covetousness is terribly destructive:

– “First, it is idolatry, in that it only obtains when man thinks of life consisting in things possessed, rather than in righteous relationship to God.”

– “It is also a sin against others, for to satisfy the desire, others are wronged.”

– “Finally, it is self-destructive, for these wrong conceptions and activities always react upon the soul to its own undoing.”

The sins mentioned previously are part of the way the world lives and not the way Jesus lived. Every Christian is faced with a question: “Who will I identify with, the world or with Jesus?” Remember: We are identified with Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:4). Since there is no way that Jesus would walk in any of these sins, we won’t walk in them either.

Paul recognized that these sins used to characterize us all: in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. These sins may mark a world in rebellion against God and destined for His wrath, but they are in the past tense for the Christian.

Paul says that Christians once walked in these sins. It is possible – though tragic – that these sins should occasionally mark a Christian’s life, but they must not be a Christian’s walk, their manner of living. Simply put, the Christian should not live like the sons of disobedience. A true Christian can not be comfortable in habitual sin.

Believe it today: As a disciple of Jesus, these sins are your past, and your present is life in Jesus Christ.


Christ Our Life

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:2-4)

Paul spoke to every Christian, telling us all to set your mind on things above. You can set your mind on things below or on things above. Always remember that the best Christian living comes from minds that are fixed on heaven. They realize that their lives are now hidden with Christ in God, and since Jesus is enthroned in heaven, their thoughts and hearts are connected to heaven also.

We need to grow in our love of heavenly things. Think of what things belong to heaven:

– God in His triune nature – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
– Faith, hope, and love
– God’s eternal word
– The people of God

Christian, put your attention on these things. You used to give all your attention to things on the earth. Now, don’t ignore earthly things; we should never think that all things of this earth are evil – they are not. Still, do not set your mind on them. God created you and redeemed you for more than earth, but ultimately also for heaven.

When Jesus came into your life, God regarded it as if you died with Jesus on the cross. Now your life is hidden with Christ in God. It is hidden, so it isn’t always obvious to us or to others. It is hidden, so it is safe and secure in Jesus.

This is all real for those of whom it can be said, “Christ who is our life.” Notice that Paul wrote “our” – that means it is for all of us. Not just for apostles or super Christians, but for all believers. Sometimes we say, “Music is his life” or “Sports is his life” or “He lives for his work.” Of the Christian it should be said, “Jesus Christ is his life.”

The wonderful promise is that when Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Thin about it: the promise of the return of Jesus is not only that we will see His glory, but so that we also will appear with Him in glory. This is the revealing of the sons of God mentioned in Romans 8:19.

On that day, all will see the saints of God for what they really are, not as they merely appear to this world. The world never saw Paul for who he really was. The Christians in ancient Colosse may not have seen or understood who they really were in Jesus, but it would one day be revealed. The same is true for you as a believer in Jesus Christ. The coming of Jesus will reveal who you are in all glory.

Raised With Jesus

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)

If you are familiar with the letters of the Apostle Paul, you will recognize a familiar transition that happens at Colossians 3:1. In chapters 1 and 2 Paul wrote about all that Jesus has done for us. Only after establishing that foundation, Paul will now begin to write about how we should practically live the Christian life.

So as Paul began to focus on practical Christian living, he did it with the clear understanding that practical Christian living is built on the foundation of theological truth. That idea is strong in Colossians 3:1, telling us that because we know that Jesus is really raised from the dead, then our identification with Him becomes real. It is only because we were raised with Christ that we can seek those things which are above.

The idea of being raised with Christ was introduced back in Colossians 2:12, where Paul used baptism to illustrate this spiritual reality. Now, seeing that we are raised with Christ, certain behavior is appropriate to us. In the last few verses of Colossians 2 Paul reminded us that legalism doesn’t really help us to live right before God. Now Paul points us to what does help us to live right: walking in our identity with the risen Jesus.

Because we were raised with Christ, we should act just as Jesus did when He was resurrected.

After His resurrection, Jesus left the tomb. So should we – we don’t live in the tomb of our old life any longer.

After His resurrection, Jesus spent His remaining time being with and ministering to His disciples. So should we – we live our lives to be with and to serve one another.

After His resurrection, Jesus lived in supernatural power with the ability to do impossible things. So should we – we live with the power and the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

After His resurrection, Jesus looked forward to heaven, knowing He would soon enough ascend there. So should we – we always recognize that our citizenship is in heaven.

To emphasize it even more, Paul added the phrase, sitting at the right hand of God. That’s a place of victory and peace. Believer, that is your place in Jesus Christ. You are raised with Jesus; you are seated with Him in heavenly places. Now live that out!


Do Not, Do Not, Do Not

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations; “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using; according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23)

Before Paul put his trust in Jesus Christ, he lived a life almost completely focused on pleasing God by keeping the law. Before he was a Christian, Paul knew and lived the essence of legalism through and through.

So, we should not be surprised that Paul knew how to perfectly describe legalistic religion: do not . . . do not . . . do not. Legalistic religion is always defined more by what we don’t do than by what we do.

Make no mistake about it: Christianity is a moral religion. Our Christians faith has clear moral boundaries. Yet at its foundation, Christianity is a religion of positive action.

Paul also knew the key to living above legalism. It is to remember that you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world. Our identification with Jesus in both His death and resurrection (as mentioned before in Colossians 2:12) becomes the foundation for our Christian life, instead of our law-keeping.

A life of law-keeping centers on things which perish with the using. We touch them or eat them; they are temporary things that pass away. These things are not the things that matter most, the ultimate realities. The truth of what Jesus did for us on the cross is greater than any rule about what we should eat, or any other aspect of legalism.

Legalism is all arranged according to the commandments and doctrines of men. Human rules and claimed truths are emphasized above the law and truth of God. What Paul wrote about these things is true; these things indeed have an appearance of wisdom . . . but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. We might regard this as the greatest indictment against legalism in the Bible. At the bottom line, legalism’s rules have no value in restraining the indulgence of the flesh.

All such legalistic rules may have an appearance of wisdom, but they have no real value. Legalism doesn’t restrain the flesh; it feeds the flesh in a subtle, powerful way. That is why sometimes the most supposedly religious people can be filled with the most unbearable pride. The devil doesn’t mind you having lots of religion as long as he can make you legalistic and proud.

We need to reject all self-imposed religion, which is man reaching to God, trying to justify himself by keeping a list of rules. Christianity is God reaching down to man in love through Christ. Receive His love and renounce your pride today.