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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Before and After Conversion (Colossians 1:12-13)

"Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves."

Before and after pictures. We've all seen them. They narrate aesthetic medical procedures, home makeovers, weight loss, etc. Paul often uses such "before and after" pictures in his epistles to narrate the Christian life.

The "before and after" in Colossians:
We have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light (1:12-13)
We were once alienated from God and enemies in thought and in action but now we've been reconciled (1:21-22)
We were dead in sins but we've been made alive in Christ (2:13)

Paul constantly teaches these parallel truths: Christ operates in us and we cooperate with Him.

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 - "Set your minds on things above."
  • Disciplined - "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature."
  • Compassionate - "Cloth yourself with compassion."
  • A person of peace - "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts."
  • Word saturated - "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." Scripture should permeate every aspect of a believer's life and control every thought, word, and deed- not in cold legalism but in joyful singing and gratitude.
  • Submissive to authority - "Wives, submit to your own husbands." Submission should characterize children to parents, employees to bosses, and husbands, fathers, and bosses to the Master in heaven.
  • Prayerful - "Devote yourselves to prayer."
In another letter Paul defines this "before and after" experience of every believer, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, 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 retardant in their growth in Christ-likeness 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."

Questions for today's Chronological reading:
Colossians 1:1-4:18
  • How does Paul describe the Colosse church?
  • 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?
  • Make a list of the "before and after" comments Paul makes about believers.
  • How does Paul describe his role in the church in general and to the Colossian believers?
  • Make a list of the Paul's instructions that follow his "so then" statement in 2:6. What does Christ's death, burial and resurrection demand of the believer.
  • Which instruction do you have the most trouble with?
  • What place should Scripture and prayer have in a believer's life?
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the Lord to help you cooperate with Him so that Christ's life will be manifest in your mortal flesh.