The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), December 9
Before and after pictures. We’ve all seen them. They demonstrate the effectiveness of aesthetic medical procedures, home makeovers, weight loss, etc. Paul often uses such “before and after” pictures in his epistles to narrate the Christian life. In Colossians he offers this example: ”Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom were have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:12-13).
The “before and after” in Colossians:
Delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light (1:12-13)
Once alienated from God and enemies in thought and in action but now reconciled (1:21-22)
Once dead in sins but now made alive in Christ (2:13)
Since Christ has effected such change in our lives, those who know us ought to be able to observe those changes because we cooperate with Him by being:
- Other-worldly, “Seek those things which are above . . . . Set your minds on things above” (3:1-2).
- Disciplined, “Put to death your members which are on the earth . . . . Put off all of these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” (3:5, 8).
- Truthful, “Do not lie to one another” (3:9).
- Compassionate. “Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against against another” (3:12-13).
- Loving, “But above all those things put on love, which is the bond of perfection (3:14).
- A person of peace, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (3:15).
- Word saturated, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (3:16). Scripture should permeate every aspect of a believer’s life and control every thought, word, and deed—not in cold legalism.
- Joyful, “Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (3:16).
- Christ-centered and thankful, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (3:17).
- Submissive to authority, “Wives, submit to your own husbands” (3:18). Submission should characterize children to parents, employees to bosses, and husbands, fathers, and bosses to the Master in heaven.
- Prayerful, “Continue earnestly in prayer” (4:2).
In another letter Paul defines this “before and after” experience of every believer, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). What God has done for us in Christ is scandalous. Sinners made righteous. Spiritually dead people made alive.
It is just as scandalous when those who’ve been made new remain infantile in their growth in Christlikeness because of personal passivity. Oswald Chambers warns against the lack of cooperation with God in moving toward spiritual maturity: “You must discipline yourself now. If you do not, you will ruin the whole of your personal life with God.” (Dec. 10, My Utmost)
Questions for today’s Chronological Bible reading (Colossians 1:24-4:18):
What does Paul teach the believers about the Christian life through his prayer for them?
How does Paul describe the person and position of God’s Son?