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A Transformed Life

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 11/11/2018

I want to say this as plainly as possible. Jesus promises LIFE. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I have come that they [you] may have life and have it to the full.” The KJV translates it, “life” and life “more abundantly.” The Living Bible says, “a rich and satisfying life.” The Good News Bible says, “life {and} life in all its fullness.”

There is no doubt that Jesus came to bring eternal, everlasting life. This reason alone is why you should trust Christ and be baptized. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But Jesus also came that our lives right now, today, would be better, and different. In Colossians 2:10 Paul says, “You have been given fullness in Christ.” Would you say you are living a full life, or have found a “more fuller” life in Christ? How about a rich and satisfying life? There are five verses in Colossians 3:12-17 that describe a rich, full, and satisfying life.

First, Life Under Christ is “Behaviorally” Transformed. The Apostle Paul loves to draw these kinds of stark contrasts: darkness and light, dead and alive, old and new. Last week we talked about the behaviors that belonged to our old nature. And I made the point, the more desperate the behavior the more desperate a person’s heart has become. I don’t know about you, but I’m struck by the alarming rise of desperate behaviors everywhere around us—even (and it’s sad to say) in the church!

Colossians 3:8-9 describes the desperate behaviors that abound: “But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices.” These behaviors get the lion share of attention—and the reason is that behaviors are intended to be shocking and overwhelming. Whether it’s some tyrannical leader, or some tyrannical protestor, or some tyrannical toddler—these desperate behaviors emanate from a desperate soul. Psychologists call these “child-like” behaviors because guess what? Nobody has to be taught these behaviors. That come naturally, to our sin-sick souls.

By the way, one thing to notice (in Colossians 3:9) is that behavior can be quite deceptive/subtle. Just because a person is behaviorally subdued (i.e. not angry, slanderous, filthy), doesn’t mean a person is right in their head! A person can be behaviorally subdued, yet be just as lying, deceitful, and self-centered as next person. It’s possible that you could sit down with your child, with a poorly behaving student, or toxic person and show them how such behaviors rarely help them accomplish their own goals. If you and I act this way personally or professionally, we’ll not get far in life. We’ll certain not reach our full potential, nor enjoy a rich, deep, satisfying life. These behaviors have a way of blowing up relationships, and progress, and life, and peace. We all know this right?

So, in stark contrast, Paul describes some of the richest, most life-giving behaviors known to mankind. And make no mistake about it. These are Christ-like, Christ-formed, Spirit-enabled behaviors! Colossians 3:12-14, “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

You know, I’m not shocked so much anymore by angry, arrogant, rageaholic, slanderous, filthy, lying behavior. But when I see compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience… I’m totally stunned. You want to be counter-culture? You want to make a statement? Forget the tattoos, ripped jeans, dark clothing, body modifications… love is the ultimate protest. Bearing with one another. Forgiving one another. Not letting your grievances against others (political grievances, moral grievances, personal grievances) come to define a relationship—but that you would put on love, and that the by-product of that love, there could be unity. Two could walk together instead of nuking one another in hate.

Notice how Paul characterizes the behavioral transformation the Christian undergoes. We begin behaving, and responding to one another, “just as the Lord” would. Just like Jesus! We forgive just as the Lord has forgiven us. We bear with one another just as the Lord took our grievous sins upon himself on that cross. When in Colossians 3:4 Paul talks about Christ becoming our life, boy he sure wasn’t kidding! The new behavioral standard of my life becomes, “Christ is my life!” It becomes Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

I’ve often thought how much richer, fuller, and more satisfying my life has become simply because (yes, even on a practical level) I’ve chosen to be behave in a Christlike manner. Professionally, I check myself. In my marriage, I check myself. Publicly, I check myself. So much of the chaos in our life comes from the sheet fact that instead of being Christ-like, we say stupid things, do stupid things, and reap a whirlwind of consequences we’d otherwise not have to. But this New Life isn’t just about behavior, because something deeper is happening. Our hearts are changing, our desires are changing…

Second, Life Under Christ is “Spiritually” Transformed. Remember how desperate behavior points to a desperate heart? Last week we talked about some of the underlying, desperate desires that control our lives: Colossians 3:5-7, “Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, 7 and you once walked in these things when you were living in them.”

Why is behavior so desperate? It’s because the soul is desperate. Why is the soul desperate? The soul is desperate because it hasn’t found peace. Well where does the soul find peace? There has only been one place, and one place alone, where a soul can find peace! Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.

Do you remember the series we did after Easter about Peace? In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.” Remember Colossians 1:19-20? “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
When a person who has been created “by Christ, for Christ, and through Christ,” doesn’t have Christ, they desperately start looking for their Christ-replacement! Why does a person turn to sexual immorality? A person believes if they throw themselves completely into their pornography, promiscuity, an adulterous relationship, a gay relationship, even a monogamous relationship… I’ll find peace. Why are people filled with covetousness? If only I could have what other people have… if only I could have their health, their body, their look, their image, their vibe, their cheekbone, their hairline, their abs, their style, their relationships then I’d have peace! Why the obsession with sports? If only I could achieve a certain level of performance. Why the obsession with greed? If only I could save so much, or make so much, or afford so much… Why the impure, evil desires? If only this person wasn’t standing in my way!

The only real, lasting cure for desperate souls is peace, and the only way to really find peace, is to rest in Christ and accept the peace that only he can give. So important for you internalize Colossians 3:15. Our desires “rule us.” When you talk to someone about sexual immorality, whatever the category, its clear that they feel “ruled” by that danger. They can’t say no. The desire is absolute, incontrovertible, unchallengeable! “I can’t not be in this relationship... I can’t deny this thing…”

But look what reigns over the Christian! The peace of Christ begins to rule! And look how that peace tangibly manifests itself in our lives! In gratitude! The first indicate that a person is on a bad path is an absence of gratitude. Romans 1:21-23, “For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.” Therefore, the first indicator that a heart has been reconciled to God is guess what… yep… gratitude!! Peace is that a person looks to God for satisfaction, instead of everywhere else.

Third, Life Under Christ is “Relationally” Transformed. Do you remember the old relationships mentioned back in Colossians 3:10-11? Paul speaks of having “put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.”

Out in the world, relationships are defined by long-standing grievances, injustices, racial categories, gender categories, religion, nationality, richness/poorness. It’s crazy making. But now in Christ, redemptive relational possibilities begin to emerge!

Look at the relationship dynamics Paul describes in Colossians 3:16-17: “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The only group of people on the face of the earth these verses describe is the Church. Not that there aren’t Christians/Churches who lack/struggle in these attributes. But what I’m saying is that the church is the truest, fullest, richest, deepest reality of these you’ll find this side of eternity. 99.9% of your misery is behavior. 99.9% of your misery is people’s dark side. 99.9% of your misery is un-Christlike people/relationships… and if you aren’t under Christ you might be causing others just as much misery as they’re causing you!

But look what happens when Christ truly takes hold of your life, and he becomes both Savior and Lord! Behaviorally, you’re no longer being conformed to the pattern of this world, but you are becoming (rather counter-culturally) like Jesus. Indeed, Jesus is your life! And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

And why does your behavior change so dramatically? Because your heart is no longer desperate. You’ve found peace and rest under Christ. Your no longer desperate, your grateful. Your rich. You have plenty. You have satisfaction, and joy! In Philippians 4:11-12 Paul says it this way: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. 12 I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.”

And what do you suppose the effect of such a behaviorally/spiritually transformed person might have on their spouse, family, church, neighborhood, community, workplace, school, world? Well that’s what rest of Colossians 3 and 4 unpacks!

Scripture Verses

Colossians 3:5-17; John 14:27; Colossians 1:19-20; Romans 1:21-23; Philippians 4:11-12

Study Questions

1. Read Colossians 3:12-17. How does Paul describe the characteristics and activities of this new community in verses 12-14? How do each of these reflect Christ's character and promote building loving relationships?

2. Why does Paul place emphasis on the need for forgiveness in verse 13? What does it mean to forgive? (See Ephesians 4:32.)

3. Compare Colossians 3:15-17 to Ephesians 5:18-20. What do these two passages teach us about the relationship between the "Word of Christ" and the "Spirit"? Why do we need to be grounded in the Word of Christ if we are to experience the powerful filling of the Spirit?

4. What does it mean to do everything "in the name of the Lord Jesus"? (See Matthew 21:9; 28:19; Acts 9:28; James 5:15.)

5 How does singing songs of worship fit into the points that Paul makes in this passage? As a group, how can we encourage one another in putting on these new, loving characteristics?

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