Joyce Meyer - Bible Study: Colossians 3
Well, welcome to "Enjoying Everyday Life". Today we're gonna be studying chapter 3 of the Book of Colossians. We're calling this a Bible Study day. You know, I've really been encouraging people to really study the Word of God, and I think one of the ways that I can help you learn how to do that, if you already know how, is just by studying with you on some of these little studio programs that we do. And so Colossians 3 is pretty long and I can't promise you that we'll get through the whole thing, but we're gonna trust God for a miracle here today. If we don't get through it all, we'll certainly pull out some of the stronger points.
And so Colossians chapter 3, verse 1, "If then you've been raised with Christ..." and let me just say that the "If" is not well maybe you have and maybe you haven't. It really would probably be better translated, "Since then you have been raised with Christ to a new life". "Thus sharing his resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek, aim at and seek..." hang on to that word "Seek". "The rich, eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God".
Now when he says, "Seek things above," he's not talking about just sitting around thinking about clouds, and Angels, and pearly gates, and golden streets. He's talking about putting on the attitude of Christ, putting on the behavior that Christ would approve of, putting on righteousness, the right standing that's given to us. He's talking about seeking those things that really make a real life. You know just because you're breathing, that doesn't mean you have a life. Jesus came that we might have and enjoy our lives and have it in abundance to the full until it overflows. And if you study the word "Life," it's life with a capital L, it means Zoe and it actually means life as God has it. So I don't want to just walk around and breathe. I don't even want to have life as the world has it. I want to have life the way God has it and that's the kind of life that he says we need to seek.
And how do we seek things? "And set your minds and keep them set on what is above the higher things, not on the things that are on this earth". So we seek things by putting our mind on it and if you don't think that that works, try thinking about a hot fudge sundae long enough and see how long it takes before you're seeking one. Have any of you ever done anything as ridiculous as I have sometimes and you think about something like that long enough, you finally just get in the car, you talk somebody else in the house to getting in the car? That's even better if you can talk somebody else to going and getting it. And you get it. It's amazing how our mind affects our emotions.
Now you know the mind is a very interesting thing, very beautiful thing, but also an organ that can give us lots of problems. The Bible teaches us that the mind is the battlefield, it's the place where satan, our enemy, really comes against us and he does it in deceptive ways by trying to plant lies in our mind that are not really the truth and by just filling our minds full of stinkin' thinkin'. I don't know about you but here I am doing this Bible study here on television, and I had to cast down some thoughts this morning. You know, I found myself thinking about what was wrong with two or three people like... and then, you know, I just have to say, nope. Nope. We're gonna think like God thinks. And I just said a quick prayer. "Lord, help me see the good in everybody. Help me believe the things that are good, and right, and pure".
And so the thing that we have to realize - now I want you to get this. The devil is not gonna go away if you don't confront him. He's not just gonna disappear. We need know who we are in Christ and we need to know the power that's in the name of Christ, the power that's in the word, and we need to seek those things that are above by setting our minds on right things. And I can tell you no matter how long you live, no matter how many times a week you go to church, no matter how spiritual you think you are, you're always gonna find some stinkin' thinkin' popping up from time to time and you're gonna have to just say, "Nope, I'm not gonna think that". You know temptation is not sin. I used to feel guilty when I was tempted but temptation is not sin, it's getting into the temptation that becomes sin. The Bible says that we're all going to be tempted. "Set your mind on things that are above".
Now there's a scripture here Romans 13:14. Let me just share with you how powerful the mind is. Listen to this, "But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ the Messiah, and make no provision for indulging the flesh put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature to gratify its desires and its lusts". So this is actually saying the same thing I'm teaching you here. He's saying if you want to make provision for the flesh, then just keep thinking about the things that gratify the flesh. But if you want to seek the things that are above and have the Life, the real Life with a capital L that God offers us, then we do need to be accountable for our thoughts and we need to realize that they matter. Setting your mind ahead of time is very important.
Let me give you an example. My husband, as most of you know, really enjoys the game of golf and he likes the exercise, he likes being outside. He likes the fellowship with the guys that he plays with. Actually I think we can probably say that Dave more than likes golf. He loves it, not as much as he loves God or as much as he loves me, but he really, really enjoys it. And Dave is a man who needs activity. He just he needs to be active. He just does better all the way around if he's active. And he's 74 now and still in great health, but I just said to him one day, I said, "How do you think it would affect you if someday you got to the point where you couldn't play golf"? And I want you to listen to what he said. He said, "Oh, I've already thought that over and I've already set my mind in that direction that if it ever happens, I'll still be happy and be okay".
So see, he's already shut the door to his flesh controlling him in that area because he has already pre-decided that "Should that ever happen, I'm already preparing myself that I'm gonna have a good attitude". And I think we can do ourselves so much good instead of thinking, "Oh, I don't know what I'd ever do if I couldn't do this. Or man I don't know what's gonna happen if... I don't know what I'm gonna do when my kids leave home. I don't know what I'm gonna do". You know, we need to set our minds ahead of time, keep them set on things that are above, and then we can begin to have a life that is very much a higher quality than what we may have now.
Verse 3, "For as far as this world is concerned you have died, and your new, real life is hidden with Christ in God". So really what he's saying there and it's kind of lengthy but it's to say it quickly he's saying, you know this is not your home. This is not really where you belong. One verse says that we're strangers and aliens. So we're really like people that belong somewhere else that are passing through here and visiting here.
I heard one man say recently and I just love it. He said, "We're people that were created for the Garden. We're headed for a mansion, but we're living in a motel". And not a very good one at that. And so how can we ever be fully satisfied with that? There's a longing in us that we have to realize is a longing for the thing that we were created for. And while we're here, we're gonna have to put up with some stuff that we may not be all that crazy about, but we can set our mind in a direction that we don't have to have everything our way to be happy. I used to think the only way I could be happy is if I got what I wanted every day of my life. And you know what? I've realized I can not get my way and still be happy. Isn't that a revelation?
See, you thought I forgot you were out there, didn't you? But I didn't. I know you're there. And it's actually for you that we're doing this today. "When Christ, who is our Life, appears, then you will appear with him in the splendor of his glory". Isn't that cool? If we've already left this earth and not here anymore when Christ comes, we're gonna show back up with him because the moment you pass out of this life, you're with him for eternity if you're a believer in Jesus Christ.
Verse 5, "So..." and, you know, you may not care for this, but here it comes. "So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you, all that is employed in sin: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry the deifying of self and other created things instead of God" So he says, "Now, kill all those fleshly desires". Well, what are you gonna do? You gonna get a club out and beat him? How do you kill him? And matter of fact, if you don't understand this properly, you can end up on such a long works trip and in so many works of the flesh, just frustrating yourself all the time trying to deal with all this stuff that you really can't deal with on your own apart from God.
So in my journey of dying to self, which has taken many years and I'd like to stand here and say this today that I am dead but not quite yet. Here's what I found, you can kill anything if you just don't feed it. Uh-oh. You say, "What do you mean by that"? Well, let's just say that, you know, I mean let's just say that I get my feelings hurt real easy and when I do, I want to withdraw and not talk to people that hurt my feelings. All right, well, I'm gonna be tempted to do that every time I get hurt, but I found out that I don't have to do what I feel like doing. I can do what's right. So if Dave hurts my feelings, I might not feel like talking to him, but through the power of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, I can get myself in there and talk to him anyway and by doing that, I'm setting my mind on things that are above and I'm killing the flesh because I'm not feeding it. And every day that I don't feed it, it gets a little bit weaker and a little bit weaker and a little bit weaker and then pretty soon, it has no strength at all over me in that area.
Now obviously, you know, I can't take this one scripture and teach a proper series on how to die to self because it's a long, long, long process. But the good news is is you can be excited about every little bit of progress that you see instead of discouraged about how far you still have to go, and I love that. I think that's something we all need to learn. Don't look at how far you still have to go. Look at how far you've come. And today you're making progress because today you're studying the Word of God with all of us, and isn't that cool?
"It's on account of these very sins that the Holy anger of God..." and I love that the amplified says, "The Holy anger of God". So God's anger is not an unholy anger like we have, but his anger is geared toward making things better in our life. The only reason that God ever gets angry because we do anything is because when we do something that we shouldn't do, we're hurting ourselves. And he doesn't want you to hurt yourself because he loves you so much and he sent his only Son to die for you so you can have a great, and amazing, and an awesome life.
"So the Holy anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to such practices". I love the way the apostle Paul's going about this. He's already telling them, "But you're not like that anymore. You used to be like that". And the truth is is they're not like that anymore because they have a new spirit, and a new heart, and inside they are new creatures. You know, we're kind of like, oh, let's just say a walnut, you know? There's something good down in the middle but you gotta crack that outer shell to get to it. And so God has put good things in us. They're there. They're there. You are holy. You are perfected. You are right with God. You do have the fruit of the Spirit in you, but God's working on that outer shell and all he wants us to do is just work with him. And when he tells us not to do something, even though it may be difficult, if he told you not to do it, he's gonna give you the grace not to do it and by not feeding that thing, it gets weaker and weaker.
You all know that if you've been overeating, now you need a certain amount of food to feel comfortable. So if you go hungry for a few days, not starving but you're a little hungry, you won't die. Your flesh says you'll die but you won't die because you have plenty there to live on for a while like most of us do. And the stomach then shrinks and then you don't have the problem anymore. You literally killed the problem by not feeding it. "So now put away and rid yourselves completely of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others". See like how I told you this morning, I was thinking something negative, well, I put that away and I did it just because of stuff like this, because I love God and I want his will. And I didn't experience one moment of condemnation over that because I know the devil is alive and well, and that I have a flesh, and that he may try to put bad thoughts in my mind but I felt that I had a victory because I caught him and I was able to say, "No thank you, been there, done that, don't want to do that again today". "Put away these bad feelings toward others".
Do you know if you have bad feelings toward somebody right now, you can put them away? You can say, "I'm not going to feel like that. Well, wait a minute, I can't help how I feel. No, but you can help how you think and if you think the right thing, your feelings will change. You always gotta go backwards to think about how you're thinking about things and what your attitude is. And when you ask God to help you with that, then the way that you feel will always catch up with the decision that you made. "Curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Don't lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old unregenerate self with its evil practices, and have clothed yourself with the new spiritual self".
Well, 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things pass away, and all things become brand new". Well, you know, when you're born again, you can go look at yourself in the mirror and you don't look any different. The outside doesn't look any different and to be honest, you may not initially even act any different but the Bible says you're a new creature and the way to really tap into the wonderful things that God has for you is to believe what the word says whether you feel like it or not. It may not seem true to you but it's true because God said it.
So he says, "Look, you can strip off these things because you have clothed yourself with a new spiritual self". You do have a new spiritual self. I am a new creature in Christ. "Which is ever..." I love this. "Which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and the likeness of him who created it". So what? I'm ever always, all the time changing and becoming better than what I was yesterday and so are you. Can we get excited about our progress instead of being discouraged about how far we have to go?
You know, I always feel like, well, like one day last week, and to be honest, I don't even remember what it was now, I just remember the outcome. So it's really good when you can mess up and then a week later you don't even remember what it was, you just remember the lesson you learned from it. "In this new creation all distinctions vanish. There is no room for and there can be neither Jew nor Greek, circumcised nor uncircumcised, nor difference between nations whether alien barbarians or scythians who are the most savage of all, nor slave nor free: but Christ is all and in all everything and everywhere, to all men, without distinction of purpose".
So wow. He's saying, "Okay, as a new creature now here's the deal, nobody's better than anybody else. Race doesn't matter. Education doesn't matter. Color doesn't matter. Where you live doesn't matter. The only things that matters is do you know Christ"? And you see the only worth and value that I have is who I am in Christ. If I can do something good, it's because he's gifted me to do it. And if you can do something that I can't do, we don't have to have a division between us. I don't have to be jealous. You don't have to look down on me because we can simply say, "Well, God gave me my gift and he gave you your gift, and we're supposed to work together so all these gifts blended together make one complete powerful body that can work together for the glory of God".
There's no more slave nor free, no more male nor female, no more hew nor Greek, but we're all one in Christ. I'm not preaching today as a woman. I'm in the body of a woman, but I'm a new creature preaching the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit and so it's all one God working through all of us for his own glory, amen?
All right, "Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (his own picked representatives), who are purified and holy and well-beloved by God himself..." well, you know, none of my clothes just jumped on my body this morning. I picked them out carefully. I put the jewelry with it. I brought three outfits up with me today 'cause I wanted to look good when I went out and got here on this TV. I got the earrings. I got the jewelry. We got it all happening here today. But I did it on purpose. They didn't just jump on my body. He says by putting on behavior. So just like I put on my clothes, I can put on behavior. I planned to go out of my house today and love people, I planned it on purpose. I planned ahead of time to go out. I set my mind to go out and be kind.
"By putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feelings, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, and patience which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper". Uh-oh. Uh-oh. You know, I haven't felt very good for the last few days. I've had some kind of a, I don't know if it's allergies or a virus, not really sick but just tired. And you know when you're tired, you don't want people messing with you. You don't want to be bothered. You don't want to be corrected. You don't, you know, nothing. I mean this morning I cleaned a knife and I went to put it in a drawer and Dave was sitting over there and he said, "Eh, eh, eh, no, doesn't go in that drawer. Goes over there". And I'm like, "Does it matter where I put the knife? Lose the attitude. Okay, Holy Spirit, thank you". Anybody with me today?
Now you know so I had to have a chat with myself. I'm not feeling just real perky today and I'm gonna go in there and teach and then I'm gonna go to the nursing home, and then I'm gonna do this and that and something else. And so just let's make a decision that you can deal with whatever comes with good temper. You see it doesn't work if you just wait until you're in the middle of some kind of fit and think, "Oh, I wish I wasn't acting this way". We have to put on behavior.
verse 14, I love it. "And above all these things, put on love". Verse 15, "And let the peace which comes from God rule in your heart as an umpire". What does that mean? Whatever decisions I'm gonna make today, to buy or not to buy, to say or not to say, to do or not to do, to commit or not to commit, how do I know what God wants? Follow peace. If I have peace, it's okay. If I don't have peace, then back off and wait until I do. And the next thing he tells us and I love this also in verse 15. "And be thankful (appreciative), giving praise to God always". And be thankful, be thankful.
Verse 16, "Let the Word of God dwell richly in your heart". We're doing that right now, aren't we? We're here studying the word. We're exalting the word. We've taken this 30 minutes of time, for those of you that have joined us by TV, and we're exalting the Word of God and saying, "You know what, God? I got plenty to do today, but I don't have time to not have time to be with you because if I don't spend time with him, then nothing else in my..." Do you have any idea how much time God can save you in other mess ups if you just take the time to spend a little time with him? So let that word dwell in you richly.
And then this is one of the powerful things about Colossians 3, starts in verse 17. "And whatever you do, no matter what it is in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in dependence upon his person giving praise to God always". What would happen if we never did anything that we didn't think we could do with Jesus? Well, we don't have time to get into that, do we? How would that change things in our life if I said, well, would Jesus be comfortable with this conversation I'm having? Would Jesus be comfortable with this place where I'm going? Yeah, I thought we'd get quiet on that. Yeah, and then he gets into some stuff I could just skip, but I guess I better not.
"Wives, be subject to your husbands subordinate and adapt yourselves to them, as is right and fitting in the Lord". So as is right and fitting in the Lord tells me I'm not created for abuse. That doesn't mean you have to let somebody abuse you in order to be submissive, but it just means I didn't need to start a fight over where to put the knife. I could just put that thing away and zip my lip. But I like this next verse better. "Husbands, love your wives". And I don't know about you but personally I think we've heard more about the submission than we have the husbands loving thing so I'm gonna press this one. "Husbands, love your wives be affectionate and sympathetic with them and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them". If you're gonna tell me to put the knife away, be sweet about it. Come on, we gotta have a little fun in church, right?
"Children, obey your parents". That's good, we're all like yay. But then it says, "Fathers, don't provoke or irritate or fret your children don't be hard on them or harass them, lest they become discouraged and sullen and feel inferior and frustrated". So really he's covering everything here. There's nothing that's not getting covered in here. He's like, "Okay kids, be obedient. Parents, don't aggravate your kids. Don't take your angry, undue frustrations out on them". Is there anybody here that's ever been frustrated and taken it out on your kids, but then expected them to mind you? We'll leave that alone.
"Servants..." let's just put it in today's language. Employees, obey your bosses. Bosses, make sure that you treat your employees right. See, it's always a two-way street. Almost finished here, we're gonna make it. Verse 23, "And whatever might be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul)..." I always say heartily, not hardly. "As something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing with all certainty that it is from Christ that you will receive your reward and not from men". I love that.
Let me tell ya something, if you're doing something good and you feel like that you're being ignored, nobody's really blessing you or giving you a reward, your reward's gonna come from God. Payday is coming. And then finally, "He who deals wrongfully will reap the fruit of his folly because with God there is no partiality, whether he's slave or free, slave or the master".