VC2: AS GOD'S ELECT, PUT ON CHRIST-LIKE QUALITIES -- Page 1 (series: Lessons on Colossians)
by John Lowe
Lesson VC2: AS GOD'S ELECT, PUT ON CHRIST-LIKE QUALITIES (Colossians 3:12-14)
Scripture: Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)
12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
This section completes Paul’s exhortation to the Christian to live a holy life. It continues the illustration of garments; “Put off . . . put on” #(Col. 3:8-10). He exhorted his readers to put off the graveclothes of sin and the old life and to put on the “grace clothes” of holiness and the new life in Christ. The believer should demonstrate by his actions that he possesses the new man and the new life. And believers should never be puffed up. After all, what do we have to be puffed up about? If we had received justice we would be in Hell
The emphasis in this section is on motives. Why should we put off the old deeds and put on the qualities of the new life? Paul explained four motives that ought to encourage us to walk in newness of life.
Important! Please keep this in mind: Paul, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is writing to the Christians in Corinth - Of course, everything in the Bible is for all of us.
#Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden was the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. (Col. 3:8-10)
(3:12) So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience;
“So, as those who have been chosen of God”
Grace is God’s favor to undeserving sinners. Paul reminded the Colossians of what God’s grace had done for them. He lists four graces in verse 12,
The phrase “chosen of (by) God” here refers to the elect. There is a great deal of discussion about this matter of election. The fact of the matter is that if you have trusted Christ, you are one of the elect. If these things that Paul is going to list are in your life, you’re one of the elect. I cannot tell you otherwise, nor argue any further about that―you’re of the elect. The elect of God are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
This miracle of divine election did not depend on anything that we are or that we have done; for God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). If God saved a sinner on the basis of merit, or works, nobody would ever be saved. It is all done through God’s grace that it all might bring glory to God.
Of course, election is a “sacred secret” that belongs to God’s children. It is not a doctrine that we believers explain to the unsaved. “The Lord knows them that are His” (2 Tim. 2:19), so we must leave the working out of His eternal purposes with Him. Our task is to share the Good News of the Gospel with a lost world.
God’s words to Israel through Moses help us to understand what salvation by grace means. “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deut. 7:7-8). Let me see if I can clarify what Moses said: Israel was not chosen because of any special quality they possessed but simply because God decided to love them. Believers have been chosen on the basis of God’s sovereign will #(Eph. 1:4-5); we are elect, holy, and beloved. With the designation beloved, Paul has reminded us that God has set His love upon us before we chose to love Him $(1 John 4:19).
Love is the highest element of divine perfection: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Love creates perfection, but in this verse, it is represented as the bond which sustains and supports spiritual perfection. Love is unselfish―God so loved that He willing gave His only begotten Son. Jesus the Son is so loved that He willingly laid His life down so that sinners might be saved through faith in His finished work (John 3:16; John 10:18).
#“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” (Eph. 1:4-5).
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19”)
We are to forgive because Christ has forgiven
us. Believe me, there is nothing as powerful as Christian forgiveness when a person experiences the gift of truth that “God is for me” (Rom. 8). When we really tap into that spiritual energy source, the forgiveness of others becomes a possibility.
“Chosen of God holy and beloved”
The meaning of the word “holy” is God set them apart. Because we have trusted Christ, we have been set apart from the world unto the Lord. We are not our own; we belong completely to Him #(1 Cor. 6:19-20). Just as the marriage ceremony sets apart a man and a woman for each other exclusively, so salvation sets the believer apart exclusively for Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t it be a horrible thing, at the end of a wedding, to see the groom run off with the maid of honor? It is just as horrible to contemplate a Christian living for the world and flesh.
#“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
God loves them
Paul wanted the Colossians to see clearly that they are loved by God, and that His imprint is on their lives. Without that truth firmly fixed in their minds, the rest of what he has to say wouldn’t have any particular significance.
When an unbeliever sins, he is a creature breaking the laws of the holy Creator and Judge. But when a Christian sins, he is a child of God breaking the loving heart of his Father. Love is the strongest motivating power in the universe. As the believer grows in love for God, he will grow in his desire to obey Him and walk in the newness of life that he has in Christ.
(3:13) bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
(3:14) Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
“Just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”
“Having forgiven you all trespasses” #(Col. 2:13). God’s forgiveness is complete and final; it is not conditional or partial. How is the holy God able to forgive us, guilty sinners? Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. God has forgiven us for Christ’s sake $(Eph. 4:32), and not for our own sake.
Chosen by God, set apart for God, loved by God, and forgiven by God. They all add up to GRACE! Now, because of these gracious blessings, the Christian has some solid responsibilities before God. He must put on the beautiful graces of the Christian life. Paul named eight of those graces. You will notice that those graces are actually the fruit of the Holy Spirit. You and I cannot produce them in our lives. The moment you and I think about the wonderful position we have in Christ and the high calling we have in Him, we have to recognize as we look at ourselves that we are impotent. We are weak and powerless, unable to “put on” these fruits. Believers should never be puffed up. What do we have to be puffed up about? If we had received justice we would be in hell.
Peace has been made with God. My friend, He has told us that our sins have been forgiven us in Christ. How wonderful is that! But as the children of God, we still sin and I am not able to attain this wonderful position that I have in Christ through my own effort and merit. So you and I find ourselves cast upon Him. This is where the Spirit of God moves in and enables us to walk in the Spirit.
#“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” (Col. 2:13).
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Paul’s Eight Virtues
Note: Paul saw these qualities as the way in which the church can give the world a glimpse of the image of God. These were the exact same qualities reflected by God in His relationship with Israel.
Put on a heart of compassion (tender mercies) (Col. 3:12)
The Greek uses the term “bowels of compassion” (or “bowels of mercy” ― deep, heartfelt compassion) because the Greek people located the deeper emotions in the intestinal area, while we locate them in the heart. As believers, we need to display tender feelings of compassion toward one another. See #Philippians 2:1. This is not something we turn on and off, like the TV set. It is a constant attitude of heart that makes us easy to live with.
If there was one thing the ancient world needed it was compassion (mercy). The sufferings of animals meant nothing to it. The maimed and the sick went to the wall to beg. There was no provision for the aged. The treatment of the idiot and the simple-minded was unfeeling. Christianity brought mercy into this world. It is not too much to say that everything that has been done for the aged, the sick, the weak in body and mind, the animal, the child, the woman has been done under the inspiration of Christianity.