Setting

Whereas Paul exposed the futility of self-imposed religion in the previous lesson, he now speaks of the effectiveness of a new life in Christ. The natural consequence of setting one’s mind on things above and of having one’s life hidden with Christ is that one becomes or seeks to become dead to the things of the world (3:1-5). It seems almost superfluous to have to warn against the evils stated in 3:5 and yet it is clearly not so because there is so much of this evil in the world. In this section, Paul writes of how to live a Christian life devoid of these evils.

Key Verse

(3:9,10)

Did You Know...?

1. Barbarian, Scythian (3:11): A barbarian was “someone who did not speak Greek and was thought to be uncivilized… Scythians were known especially for their brutality and were considered by others as little better than wild beasts. They came originally from what is today south Russia.” [ref]

Outline

  • Seek the Things above
    (3:1-4)
  • Put Away the Former Way of Life
    (3:5-9)
  • Put on the New Man
    (3:10-17)

Segment Analysis

  • 3:1-4

    1a.

    The goal sets the direction. Where are the goals of a Christian life?

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    Above, where Christ is (1,2). Heaven above must be the goal of all Christians, not only because it is a wonderful place (cf. Jn 14:2; 2Cor 12:2-7; Rev 21:1-5), but mainly because it is a place where we can be with our precious Lord Jesus (cf. Col 3:1; Jn 14:3; Phil 1:23). The goal is fundamental a Christian goes wrong the moment he does not set his mind on things above (1Cor 15:19).

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  • 1b.

    What exactly does it mean to set our minds on things above? (cf. Rom 8:5; 12:1-2; 13:14; Phil 4:8-9).

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    Setting our minds on things above means giving God first place in our hearts, always seeking to please Him in our thoughts, speech, and conduct. On the contrary, setting our minds on earthly things means obeying the desires of our flesh and leading a self-centered life.

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  • 2a.

    3:3,4 give an interesting picture of spiritual reality. Read Rom 6:3- 11, 2Tim 1:12 and 1Thess 4:16,17. Discuss the implications when Paul says that you have died and your life is hidden with Christ.

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    a. Our life is no longer our own (1Cor 6:19).
    b. The devil cannot take our life as it is hidden with Christ (1Jn 5:18).
    c. Our real life is spiritual and is destined for eternity at the appearing of our Lord Jesus (Col 3:4; 1Thess 4:17).

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  • 2b.

    What is the promise for those whose lives are hidden in Christ?

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    See verse 4.

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  • 3:5-9

    3.

    3:6-7 suggests that evil is partly due to the worldly company one is in. A Christian life entails separation from the world. Read Jn 17:14-16, 1Cor 15:33, 2Cor 6:14-18 and 1Pet 2:9-12 to have an idea of what this means. Now discuss the essence of each of these passages.

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    Jn 17:14-16: Christians continue to live among the people of the world but are not of them, i.e., we do not identify with them nor with their values. For example, in some societies, teenage dating is encouraged or accepted in the belief that this helps adolescents become mature. Christians must decide whether to do the same not on the basis of what society or culture says but according to what is suggested by the Bible.
    1Cor 15:33 : We should be careful not to associate with those who practice evil (Ps 1:1), knowing that we may be influenced by them. We need to imitate our Lord Jesus in this regard. Although He ate and mingled with sinners, these sinners were not unrepentant evildoers. He drew close to them in order to bring them back to God, not to join in their sinful acts.
    2Cor 6:14-18 : Verse 14 covers a large area of association and thus definitely includes marriage with unbelievers. The church of God is to be clearly seen as separate from the world.
    1Pet 2:9-12: The believers are considered the special people of God. Their behavior and lifestyles are distinct from those of the unbelievers.

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  • 4.

    Why is covetousness deemed as idolatry (3:5; Eph 5:5)?

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    One possible explanation weaves together Luke 12:15, Luke 16:13 and the first two commandments (Ex 20:3-5). Covetousness is defined here as desiring excessively the material things of the world. This leads to serving and worshipping mammon (money) which is replacing God with another object of worship, an idol.
    Verse 8 lists the things we should “put off.” “Malice,” a word that means evil or wickedness, may refer to a vicious attitude. “Blasphemy,” also translated “slander,” means speaking evil of another with the intention of wounding his/her reputation or speaking with irreverence concerning God (see notes at the end of this lesson).

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  • 5.

    “Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with his deeds” (3:9) Upon scrutiny, the conjunction ‘since’ looks odd because if one has already put off the old man with all his deeds, why should the apostle continue to instruct that one should not lie?

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    When we are baptized, our old man dies (Rom 6:6-8). The blood of Jesus washes away our sins and we attain the status of a son of God (Jn 3:5; Gal 3:26-4:7). It is clear however that as long as we are in the flesh, we still have the nature to sin. See Rom 6:11-13 and Gal 4:9. These Bible passages tell us that the Romans and Galatians could be swayed to sin implying that the nature of the Christian is a ‘work in-progress’. Thus, one way to change our nature is to be aware of the new status and to live worthy of it (3:9; Rom 6:11-13).

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  • 3:10-17

    6a.

    Which affiliation do you consider most important in your life? Is it your nationality, your race, your old school/college, the company you work in, your neighborhood, your family, your church or your relationship with God? Discuss this in the light of 3:10,11.

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    When we are baptized, we become a new man and put on Christ (Gal 3:27). We become a new man according to the image of Christ (3:10). We should cherish this affiliation above all human affiliations (3:11).

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  • 6b.

    What about the church? Is it a human affiliation?

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    The church is the body of Christ (Eph 1:22,23). One’s affiliation with the church is established by three sacraments intimately linked to Christ and thus to salvation. Baptism washes away our sins and makes us a new man. Footwashing lets us have a part with Jesus (Jn 13:8-10). The apostles were disunited, mistrustful of one another and held together only by the love for Jesus. The Lord wanted them to know that all disciples have a part with Him and thus form His body (the church) after He has ascended to heaven. Footwashing was instituted to induct the individual into a community where Christ is. This induction ceremony is unique in the sense that the leader washes the feet of the inductee showing that the church is an organization of humility and that those having a part with it must also be of the same nature. If we refuse footwashing, we refuse to have a part with the body of Christ. Holy Communion is taken as a church and not individually (1Cor 10:16,17; 11:33). It is the communion of the body of Christ.
    In summary, our most important affiliation is with Jesus. But the Lord has also established His body on earth, the church. Through mutual edification based on the words of Christ and His love, members of this body may be built up in the faith (1Tim 3:15; Eph 4:11-15). Thus, the church is a necessary and important affiliation in our lives as she herself is intimately associated with Christ, being His body and His bride (Eph 5:31,32).

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  • 7a.

    Read verses 12-13 and list the aspects of character that the elect of God should have.

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    Aspects of character that the elect of God should have—holy and beloved of God, merciful, kind, humble, meek, longsuffering, forbearing and forgiving.

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  • 7b.

    Is it possible for Christians to survive in this competitive world while having these virtues?

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    God has promised that He will provide for our needs if we seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Mt 6:33). Although it may seem necessary to sacrifice our Christian principles in order to compete with the people of this world, we should resist such temptation and remain faithful to God. Consider the meek Isaac, who conceded to his oppressors but was blessed by God with prosperity (Gen 26:12-33).

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  • 8.

    How would you reconcile Paul’s exhortation in 14-15 for love to bind together all in the one body (the one church) and that the peace of God rule in individual hearts with his often stern epistolary rebukes (see for example, 1Cor 5;1-6; Gal 1:6-9)?

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    Unity is strength but unity by itself is not a virtue (cf. Mk 3:22-27). In striving for unity and peace in the church and in our lives, Christians must not compromise with regard to the truth. When the truth was attacked, Jesus (cf. Mt 23) and Paul did not hesitate to rebuke in love (1Tim 5:19,20; 2Tim 3:16-4:2).

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  • 9a.

    What does it mean to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus (17)?

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    Doing all things in the name of the Lord Jesus does not mean invoking the name of Jesus when doing even the most trivial things. Instead, it means doing all things in a manner that is worthy of the name of the Lord, and nothing we do should ever dishonor the name of Christ (cf. Eph 4:1; Phil 1:27; Col 1:10).

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  • 9b.

    How does verse 17 sum up the entire passage?

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    The goal of all the commands and exhortations in this passage is to live a Christ-centered life. Although Paul covered many aspects of Christian living, his instructions are not meant to be an exhaustive code of ethics. Thus, in conclusion, he reminds the believers to do all things in light of the fact that they bear the name of Christ. A Christian who always desires to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus will naturally conduct himself in a manner worthy of the Lord.

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  • 10.

    In retrospect, what is the new man? Summarize the main points in 3:10-17 with regard to the individual and with regard to the one body.

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    The individual:
    1. Renewed in knowledge (3:10). The word of Christ dwells richly in him (3:16).
    2. Identifies himself, first and foremost, as a Christian (3:10,11).
    3. Holy and beloved of God, merciful, kind, humble, meek, longsuffering, forbearing and forgiving (3:12,13).
    4. Loving (3:14).
    5. At peace and thankful (3:15,17; Jn 14:27; Phil 4:6,7; 1Thess 5:18).
    6. Sings with grace in his heart (3:16).
    7. Does all in the name of the Lord (3:17), i.e., he always thinks of the Lord in his life and acts to glorify Him (Isa 43:7; 1Cor 10:31).
    The church:
    1. Christ is all and in all (3:11).
    2. Bound by love (3:14; 2Cor 5:14,15).
    3. At peace with one another (3:15).
    4. Teaching and admonishing one another in the wisdom of the word of Christ and in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (3:16). The church is a place of prayer, praise, and learning and living of the truth (4:2; Mt 21:12,13; Lk 2:46-39; Acts 2:46,47; 6:2-4)

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  • Notes

    11.

    Expressions such as “Oh my God!” “Jesus Christ!” “Gee!*” or “God!” uttered in amazement or frustration are improper for Christians because not only do they not glorify God, such speech may constitute blasphemy. Some people may say that they do not mean anything when uttering such expressions. But even without any intention of blaspheming God, using the name of God in an empty or frivolous manner would be a violation of the third Commandment—”You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Ex 20:7). * “Gee” or “Jee” are alterations of “Jesus.”

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