Summary: What does God require of us to be holy?
Colossians 3:1 (NIV)
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I want to begin today’s sermon with a small exegesis of the words being described here. Let’s first take a look at the works of the flesh that St. Paul is demanding of the church at Colossae.
Anger was an interesting word to delve into, especially in the context in which St. Paul is using the term. Anger, as he used it, has a synonym (according to Webster’s) that is equated with it.
Wrath: means an intense emotional state induced by displeasure - is likely to suggest a desire or intent to revenge or punish.
When we look at anger for what it is, it is an ugly thing. It is a reflection of our fallen nature at one of its worst. Someone doesn’t do what we think or say or perhaps injures us in a perceived or real way and wrath begins to form in our hearts because we want revenge on them for this or that. We even want to punish that person because…”How dare they do this to me or my loved one?!”
Do you suppose that when Christ said to turn the other cheek he was merely relaying a good spiritual principle that is to be debated and ruminated over by scholars for millennia or do think he meant what he said…”Someone has hurt you…do not hurt them back.” Instead he went even further by commanding, “Pray for those who hurt you with malice or anger.” Quite the opposite of what our human heart and the world in which we live demands as “satisfaction.” The Lord has said “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” and we had better conform to that model or scripture says further “You will be judged as you judge.” So, that means that every time you condemn a person for lying, cheating, manipulating, gossiping, etc. You will be judged on the Great Day in the exact way that you have condemned that person and their actions. We had better start living by God’s command.
Rage is another interesting word study. With rage we find that it is something I have to confess I have been guilty of from time to time while driving on the road or what not, so I am acquainted with this little guy.
Rage: violent and uncontrolled anger, a fit of violent wrath.
When that guy cuts you off in the middle of the road, is rude or (fill in the blank), a person can get a wee bit frustrated and then behave in a manner that’d make the devil blush. You know who you are.
St. Paul reminds us that that type of outburst does not advance the kingdom of Christ and if left unchecked and unrepented of, can separate you from the relationship that Christ wishes to have with His Bride. We must always strive to be peaceful even when we want nothing more than to exact some sort of harm on the person who is the focus of our rage. Again, we must pray for them and try to step into their shoes, because we don’t know if that person just lost a loved one, got some terrible news, or has given up on life. In any one of those scenarios that person does not need a raging person in their face, rather they need to see the light of Christ reflected upon each of our faces so that they can get a true understanding of the God of Peace and Comfort which we serve.