Be All That You Can !
We mentioned last week: that the U.S. Army has a slogan: “be all that you can” The Colossian brethren as well as Christian need the strong admonitions the apostle sets forth in this book. They needed and we need to be impressed with the uniqueness that made them and us today children of God.
the religion of newness. The new birth ushers us into it. Jesus spoke of the new birth and the
uniqueness thereof to Nicodemus. In John chapter three we read beginning
in verse 1” There was a man
of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2This man
came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a
teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is
with him.” 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born
again, he cannot see the
We are new creatures by reason of the new birth. Thus we read in 2 Cor. 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
This newness, requires we walk in a new way, called in scripture new and living way, Hebrews 10:20. We wear a new name Christian Acts 11:26. We have new friends, a new mission in life to fill, the New Jerusalem is now our desired destination in yonder world.
In Colossians 3:1-4 Paul writes:
“1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
Verse 1, is a reference to their baptism Col 2:11-13
“11In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,”
Baptism involves a twofold symbolism, a death and a resurrection. In baptism one is buried beneath the water and there is a emergence from the water. The burial typifies death of the sinful person that we experience through repentance and conversion.
The raising up out of the water typifies a resurrection to a new life, in Christ where all things have become new. The change involved in one’s conversion and baptism, involves a change in our very nature and being.
Our views are altered, our standards different. We now have our minds focused upon things above. There are to be noticeable change inward that is reflected by the outward. It is stated in Acts4:13 concerning Peter and John
13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
We too are to be branded in such a way that others will quickly know that we belong to Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:17 “for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus.”
Colossians 3:3 states: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God”. Literally, “for you died”, The Greek word is aorist tense denoting a past act. The next phrase that arrest our attention is the word “hidden” Greek perfect tense and denotes the permanent effects of baptism. Hear again Paul’s discussion on baptism and sin in Romans 6:1-7
1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin.
3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Again Paul expresses the same idea to the Romans. Read the following Romans 6:9-13
9Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Hence, this death and resurrection (the new birth of John 3:3-5 and Romans 6:3-7) gives us a new set of values, new attitudes that are to be reflected in both the putting OFF and putting ON of certain things.
Putting Off And Putting to Death
5Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.
This does not call for a mutilation of bodily members but a careful, relentless curbing of them, lest they become instruments of sin. In an earlier epistle, Romans, Paul dealt with this writing: Rom. 6:12-16
12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
I recommend you study each of the items Paul calls them members on earth, and tells us to put to death “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”. A good Bible dictionary will b e very helpful in doing this.
Paul warns them of the folly of returning to such lasciviousness. These sins are rampant in the twenty-first century even as they were among the Colossians of Paul’s time.
These are the works of the flesh described in Galatians 5:19-21
19Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Notice particularly here the last phrase
regarding those who practice the of Colossians 3:5-9 “those
who practice such things will not inherit the
12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
These sins should have been past experiences for them, even as they should be past practices for us (if we ever practiced them). The same should characterize every sin in our lives. “Mortify or put them to death” Separate them from your new lives in Christ.
We are to off the things just mention but we
must put on the New Man.
10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him
It is not enough to cease from sin. Ceasing from sin is crucial but is only half the story! -Jesus used this idea to tell one of the most compact but compelling parables, found in Matt 12:43-45
43“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44“Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45“Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
This parable teaches that a life left empty invites destruction. In this parable, Jesus is giving a terse commentary on the work habits of Satan. The lesson hangs on three vivid expressions from this parable: look at the text:
‘I will return to my house from which I came.,
he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
last state of that man is worse than the first.
Notice, Satan still confidently regarded the house as his own.
‘I will return to my house from which I came., A firm statement to his persistence. Looking in the window, the spirit is delighted to find his house empty, swept and garnished.
he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
No better tenant has replaced him. He quickly rounds up seven more devils friends of his, and invites them in as grisly roommates. He intends that his occupancy will never again be disputed. Jesus had a word for the tragedy: 45the last state of that man is worse than the first. Matt 12:45
The tragedy of the parable hinges on the word "empty" Putting off the old man is not sufficient in of itself. A religion of thou shalt not's will not produce the abundant of life. While it may be able to cleanse a man, negative goodness cannot keep him clean.
We are to “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,” We may become unlike Satan by ceasing from sin, but we can only become Christ-like by putting on His virtues.
We often stress that Christians must not do certain things. There are certain practices that clearly do not belong in the life of a Christian. But putting off is not to be the end purpose, we must fill that vacuum with good. The only way to eliminate evil permanently is to become absorbed with good activity.
The principle holds in many fields. In medicine the emphasis is more and more on maintenance of health, preventive medicine. rather than cure of disease.
Alcoholics Anonymous has discovered the secret of victory for alcoholics, not merely in renunciation, but with positive commitment to the good and actively assistance to fellow sufferers. Winning football coaches know a team's best offense is a good defense and vice versa.
Paul stated the same in a scriptural formula: Romans 12:21
"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good"
Emptiness is a dangerous situation. The most dangerous thing about it is that nothing will remain long in that state. "Nature abhors a vacuum" to borrow a phrase. The weight of the world crushes in against it.
The empty heart, the empty mind, the empty life react like an empty house. A man must be filled with something. My Grandmother used to say, "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop." she hit the nail on the head. A man will be occupied with something.
Paul lists some things to be "put on" beginning in Col. 3:12
These are not optional if we want to go to Heaven They are mandatory. Hear them ......
12Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
We are baptized into the name of Christ and then must live under His authority and guidance. Wearing the name of Christ is a wonderful honor for the child of God. We must do more than wear the name, we must "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Be All That You Can
Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ