Summary: The life we’re called to live is to be informed and motivated by the gospel.
Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians 2:4-8
The apostle Paul, having preached Christ in you, the hope of glory, now begins to explain how that truth is to shape the life of every believer. There is a path we are to walk in the presence of Christ and in the power of Christ.
Let’s read verses 4-8 to see what that is.
READ COLOSSIANS 2:4-8
In verse 6 we’ve come to the first command in the letter to the Colossians, about one third of the way through it. Up until now, Paul has been expressing his thanks to God for the Colossians, his desires for their growth, and especially going on at length about the hope of the gospel, the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ.
Now he introduces a command, something the Colossian believers and we are to do, which is this: walk in him or walk in …Christ Jesus the Lord. It’s a command that Paul will spend the rest of the letter explaining, as he applies it to many areas of life. It is about how we are to live; how we are to walk this path of life until we reach our destination which is Christ.
As we go through the rest of the letter Paul is going to talk about how we put to death sin in our lives and grow in holiness. He’ll talk about relationships between husbands and wives, children and parents, between employees and employers, between believers and other believers, between believers and non-believers.
This broad command called walk in him will apply to all of life. And we’re going to find out what it means this morning and why it’s good for us to do it.
But I want to make an observation here before plunging into that command. Paul writes about the gospel and its benefits before he writes anything about commands. And that order tells us something. It tells us that the life we’re called to live is to be informed and motivated by the gospel (2x). Or, in other words, we are to live a gospel-shaped life.
Before Paul gets to any commands, before he addresses any concerns (and he does have concerns for the Colossians and us), before he tells us what to do, he first makes sure believers understand that in Christ God is for us, that God loves his people, that God has pursued us in our sin and given us life and hope. There’s a particular way he wants us to live, a way that is worthy of Christ, a way that is fully pleasing to him, but what makes that way of life possible and what motivates us to do it is the knowledge of God’s forgiveness, of his acceptance, of his commitment to do us good through Jesus. First liberty, then service. First gospel, then walking in a manner worthy of the gospel. That’s the divine order of things for us.
The life we’re called to live is to be informed and motivated by the gospel. It is to be a gospel-shaped life. That’s what this morning’s text tells us.
So, with that in mind we’re going to explore this by looking first at the concern that Paul has for the Colossians. Then we’ll define this command to walk in him and how it addresses the concern Paul has for them. Then we’ll see how to cultivate obedience to this command, how to cultivate the gospel-shaped life. So we’ll see the concern, the command and the cultivation of that command.
Let’s begin with the concern.
1. The Concern
We find in verse 5 that the Colossians are doing very well as believers. On a scale from one to ten, they’re probably at an 8. Paul rejoices to see [their] good order and the firmness of [their] faith in Christ. They are at the moment, stable. There is a consistency and orderliness about their love toward one another and their trust in the Lord.
They aren’t given to the excesses of say the Corinthian church where there was not good order - with people speaking in tongues at the same time in the Sunday meeting without interpretation, people getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper, believers taking each other to court over offenses.
This kind of thing wasn’t happening at Colossae. They had good order in their use of the gifts to benefit one another and they were firm in their faith.
But that doesn’t mean they are out of danger. That doesn’t mean their current spiritual health is guaranteed to last. No, there is still reason for concern; there is still the possibility of their getting out of order and weak in their faith.
Paul says to these healthy Christians in verse 4, I say this (referring back to his teaching on Christ in you, the hope of glory, his labor to establish them in this truth), I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.