Grace For The Journey
The great theologian St. Augustine was saved out of a life of sin that included the sin of sexual immorality. Shortly after his conversion he was walking down the street when he happened to see a former acquaintance headed towards him, a woman of ill repute; a prostitute. When he saw her, he immediately turned away and began to walk in the opposite direction. She cried out to him: “But Augustine, it is I!” And he replied, “Yes, but it is not I!” That was Augustine’s way of saying, “I’m different now. I’ve changed.” And it is true:
Augustine had died to the old self
And was in the process of dying daily
To the things that characterized the old self.
Christians have “died” to their old lives and have been “raised” with Christ, a beautiful transformation pictured in the ordinance of baptism (Colossians 2:12).
In the third chapter of Colossians, the Apostle Paul describes Christian living as a daily “putting off” of the old and “putting on” of the new, namely putting off old behaviors and embracing new behaviors.
Like getting dressed – taking off the old and dirty clothes and putting on the new and clean clothes – Christians are to “put off” things that don’t “suit them,” things like sexual immorality, lust, greed, anger, filthy language. Then they are to “put on” the things that “fit them,” things like compassion, kindness, and humility.
Before listing some of the “new clothes” Christians are to put on, Paul helpfully reminds Christians who they are in Christ. (Colossians 3:12):
Verse 12 declares, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved …”
These words tells to . . . Remember Who You Are …
If you are a Christian, a follower of Christ, then there are three words that identify you in verse 12.
The word “elect” identifies those who are “chosen by God,” chosen – not on the basis of any foreseen merit or goodness within – but chosen simply by virtue of God’s electing love. Other translations refer to believers in verse 12 as “God’s chosen ones” or “God’s chosen people.”
We may not understand everything about the doctrine of election, but there is one thing we may be absolutely certain:
If we are saved;
If we have come
To faith in Christ,
It is only because God
“Made the first move,”
If you like.
Before we came to Christ, the Bible describes as being “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1). We understand death in the physical realm . . .
Dead people are incapable of doing anything.
Indeed, if anything happens to a dead body,
It will be because someone intervened in some way or other.
It is the same in the spiritual realm. While believers were once “dead in sin,” God – because of His electing love and based solely upon His desire to set His affection upon spiritually dead people – chose some of them out of the darkness of their condition, taking out their cold hearts of stone, giving them soft hearts of flesh (cf Ezekiel 36:26).
Salvation, of course, happens through the instrument of faith. Believers genuinely and freely place their faith in Christ, but only because God first graced them with the ability to believe and repent.
Paul recalls the Christian’s having been chosen by God as a means to motivate him or her. In essence . . . Because this is true – that God came to us while we were in darkness, coming to us with grace and bringing us into His family, giving us the joy and wonder of eternal life –
Because God did all of this for us,
Shouldn’t we live in such a way
As to look like we belong to His family?”
As God’s “chosen ones,” chosen by the Father, Christians should bear family likeness. Believers should live in such a way that people recognize them as true sons and daughters of the Father.
To be holy is to be “set apart” from sin. Christians are those who, because of the righteousness of Christ . . .
Are now in a position of favor with God.
Christians are covered in Christ’s righteousness.
Paul is reminding believers that because they really are holy in God’s sight, that they then should live this way. Christians should live like the people they are.
I like how JC Ryle describes personal holiness:
Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of . . .
Agreeing in God’s judgment,
Hating what He hates,
Loving what He loves,
Measuring everything in this world
By the standard of His Word.
This word is truth is found in the last part of verse 12. This is who the Christian is. This is the believer’s identity. Beloved means “loved of God.” If you are a Christian you are loved of God!
There is a special love
God has for His children.
He has a general love for all His creation: “God so loved the world that He gave His Son to die” (John 3:16), but God has a particular, special love for those He has adopted into His family. We are the “beloved of God,” the ones who have died, and whose lives are hidden with Christ in God.
Paul is arguing that because of our identity – because of who we are – here is our motivation: We are elect, holy, and beloved. You are different now. Therefore, live like it! Live like the special person you are and bring your behavior in line with your identity.
What does that behavior look like? We will consider that question in the next post!
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”