Living the Risen Life
In the miracle of conversion, a number of things happen. Our sins are forgiven, we’re adopted into God’s family, and we’re given the status of sons and daughters. Not only that, but we’re also given a new location with Christ in the heavenly places. There is for the Christian a radical change in our spiritual environment as a result of our union with the risen Christ—and it is our place in Christ that establishes our priorities. It is because we have been “raised with Christ” that we are to “seek the things that are above.”
This reality was important for the Colossian church to grasp. As Paul was writing to them, they were being influenced by deceptive doctrine. False teachers were imposing man-made rules upon them, saying, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”
(Colossians 2:21). Yet these external rules, which were intended to improve moral behavior, ironically were “of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (v 23). The same remains true for us: even when we attempt to remove ourselves from sin, we won’t be able to stop our own propensity towards that which is impure, unholy, and untrue.
This form of external religion was a bad virus that was threatening to embed itself within the Colossian church, combining doctrinal confusion with moral carelessness. (The two go hand in hand.) So Paul addressed the issue by reminding his Colossian readers that the way to get to grips with our behavior is by understanding who we are—what we have become in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Christians, our lives are wrapped up in Jesus. We are in Him, and He is in us. We have been raised with Christ, and our lives are hidden in Him. This fact alone is the only sure basis of our security—our confidence in the face of our own propensity to do wrong things.
Are you trying to live the Christian life by your own efforts and fight sin in your own strength? Are you seeking to be a better Christian and wondering why it is proving elusive—or, worse, are you beginning to wonder whether you are a Christian at all or whether it is worth the effort? As you live in this world, don’t dwell upon your failures or look to your own performance as the basis of your security. You have been raised with Christ. He alone is your hope. Make His glory, and not your own goodness, the focus of your days and you will find that your behavior will bear testimony to His life-transforming power.
Keep in Step with the Spirit
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,4 drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
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