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Sunday School Lesson For May 16, 2010



* A CHOSEN COMMUNITY *



Devotional Reading: Isaiah 41:4-10



Background Scripture: Colossians 3



Printed Text: Colossians 3:1, 2, 8-17


BACKGROUND:

Paul is here in Colossians painting a picture of what once was back in the Garden of Eden, and what is now. He continues to give directions on how to return to the kind of atmosphere created by God in Eden . Man has fallen far in the years since Eden : he has graduated from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve – that of seeking knowledge about good and evil – and moved on to things much worse; such as greed, covetousness, murder, etc. It is clear that when Satan confronted man outside the confines of the Garden, he made the most of it...

Last week we learned that Paul was more concerned by man’s being deceived more than he was about man aggressively seeking evil. The apostle therefore spent time telling his readers what to watch out for, as he was convinced they were not inherently evil beings...


INTRODUCTION:

Paul’s argument in today’s lesson turns from the negative approach of last week to the positive approach this week. It is important that the Bible student read again 2:12 in preparation for studying today’s lesson. It is here that the apostle describes what in effect is the participation of the believer with Jesus in death to the world and resurrection to the new life. The “new” life is in fact life eternal with Him. But the readers remain in a cruel, wicked world, surrounded by sin and temptation. It is because of this that Paul makes suggestions as to how believers should face such a heavy challenge...


EVERLASTING PERSPECTIVE -
Colossians 3:1, 2


The first word in the printed text is “IF”. This is important, since what follows that “if” cannot be accomplished by just anyone; indeed, these things can be accomplished ONLY by those risen with Christ. What is the challenge? Seek those things which are above. Implied in that statement is the idea that Christians should cease seeking thins on earth. Of course, if one is still being governed by his earthly flesh, this is an impossible task, since it is impossible to persuade the flesh to develop genuine affections for the things above. But if one would desire to be with Christ, he must genuinely crave the things that be of Christ. This is why it’s vitally important for one to truly “bury” his flesh and be raised up in the Spirit. After all, only the Spirit is interested in the things above...


PREVIOUS PERSPECTIVE -
Colossians 3:8, 9


Paul here turns from the generalities of the previous verses to the particulars in the verses before us. It is unfortunate that mankind over the years after Eden have somehow managed to “put on” this laundry list of vices – vices that guarantee (individually and collectively) that man would never again be fit for the Garden. Paul carefully lists these “things” that have beset the human race: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, foul talk, lying, to name a few. It is a sobering fact that NONE of these can accompany us to Heaven...

But again, no one can simply rid himself of any or all of these simply by willing it to be so. For example, no alcoholic or drug addict can “quit” his habit on the spot by simply using the body’s will power. It takes a radical change in outlook to conquer these vices. Paul explains this simply by saying, “…seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds…”.


PERFECT PERSPECTIVE -
Colossians 3:10-17


Go back to Genesis 1:26. There God determines to make man in His own Image. But the current man – the earthly man – bears little resemblance to his Maker. So Paul explains that man can return to that original image only by putting on the NEW man. Of course, doing this will create some “new” situations; for example race distinction will cease to be. There will be no difference between Jew and Greek, those circumcised and those who remain uncircumcised. In fact, Paul writes in Galatians 3:28 that there won’t even be a distinction between male and female. All will be equal in every way...


From the “taking off” earlier in this lesson, Paul now turns to the “putting on”. Look at verses 12-14. The New Jerusalem Bible puts it thusly: “As the chosen of God, then, the holy people whom he loves, you are to be clothed in heartfelt compassion, in generosity and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other if one of you has a complaint against another. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, put on love, the perfect bond.”

All of this “taking off” and “putting on” is necessary to prepare the believer for the directive in verse 15 (and amplified in the remaining verses): “…let the peace of God rule in your hearts…”. But keep in mind this “peace” is not simply the absence of conflict (that’s the world’s definition of “peace”). Jesus Himself had years earlier made the distinction. Read it in John 14:27....


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