Bound By Love

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“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

We have studied verses 12-13, but I felt we should also study verse 14 separately. After all the instructions to cooperate in the power of our Lord Jesus to begin to personally adjust into the purity of His life, this last instruction is the easiest and the hardest to make real in our lives.

It is the easiest in that it is the logical thing in Christ to love with the love He has given – just like everything else. This is the agape love most of us know as unconditional, full, and unreserved. It seems easy in our circle of friends, but His power is intended for us to be able to interact this way with all. There is no shortcut here – it is just the same as with all these characteristics, the more time and energy we spend focused in Him and purposefully sharing life in Him, the more this flows unhindered. His nature is in us, and it is modeled for us in the Word. As we engage Him over and over again, this flows outward – even when we might like to be reserved.

Our own lists of things to do, and our own agenda’s in what needs to be done – all get in our way in the delegation of time purposefully directed and intense in Him. We all have things that “must be done” that get in our way. Once we settle that this is what we really want in our inmost being, then His time finds a place, and that intensity finds an expression. Otherwise, all of this is an exercise in futility – unless He has His way in us in all directions. His power in His love is intended to live in us as a flow outwardly to whomever. May we find supreme delight as we choose Him over and over again above all else.

The last phrase in the NIV says “…love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” I have found most of the words used for “unity” in our English Bibles are not what we understand when we say “unity.” The word used here is a word used many times in the New Testament, and it always means “complete, completeness,” and it is sometimes translated as “perfect.” It is the completeness we feel when we know all is well and we have no lack or shortcoming. It is the word that means “to consummate” or to bring all things into perfect placement. This is used for the way Jesus is in God, translated as “fullness” as in Colossians 2:9. It also says we were brought into that same fullness or completeness.

So you see, it is all about being who He is towards everyone. This makes all the processing we do in Him work well. It is no badge of merit, but simply leaning and loving Him and choosing Him above everything and everyone. It has no limit to what He does within us when we move into a total reception of His person.

Such wonder, and such open doors to all. That is who our Lord Jesus is, and who He is making us to be as well.

1 John 4 “17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” NIV

Forgive As The Lord…

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“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” 

In the last post, we worked with what “clothes” to wear as we live our lives in Jesus. Today we look at the 2nd item – verse 13  “ 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 

Most of our Christian teaching on Forgiveness begins and ends in Matthew 6:14-15, 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The verse in Colossians is not generally even known. 

There is a conflict between the two. In the Matthew passage, the Lord makes it clear that people who want to be forgiven must forgive others first. In the Colossians passage, the instruction is to forgive in direct reference to the Lord’s forgiving you – already. So what are we to do?

The Word when rightly divided and in context, never contradicts itself. Such contradictions arise when the division of the Covenants are not clearly understood. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were all written about a time before the New Covenant was put into place. Jesus was, many times, teaching the true meaning of the Law, and since He lived in the flesh under the Law period and He was fulfilling and teaching the Law without all the traditions of Judaism that had been honored – He was trying to get them to see the purity and the requirements of that Law.

Colossians was probably written toward the end of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment – somewhere around 62 AD. So this was in the first 100 years after the Lord’s death, resurrection and the day of Pentecost. So the understanding of the New Covenant has been taught by Paul, and the other apostles as well) for a good 50 years. There is no need to interject within this passage a teaching on forgiveness based on the Law. Instead, since the Lord saves us to the “uttermost” the instant, we say “yes”  – we are entirely forgiven even before we know to forgive.

In the New Covenant, everything is a gift, and everything is based on the work of Christ. Our living out the life of Christ within this gift of salvation does not merit anything – for everything has already been granted. (Oh how the Lord longs for us to understand this). We have entered into the possibilities of an intimate relationship in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit where we learn to access all He his provided in the word Salvation.

So being entirely and wonderfully forgiven, we then are empowered to allow that forgiveness to flow. In the Old Covenant, it had to originate with us for that flow to exist. Now, in the New Covenant, all has wholly originated in the Lord. He has produced the flood of forgiveness and tells us here to participate by forgiving as He forgave us – freely and as a gift.

I have written a booklet called, “Do Yourselves a Favor, Forgive” and you may read a PDF version of that booklet here. Just go to the “Writings” tab above and then click on that title. It will explain this concept more fully.

Next Post: The Freedom of Forgiveness!

All Scripture:

New International Version (NIV)

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Make A Choice

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12Therefore, as God’s Chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

As the Holy Spirit continues to instruct our hearts in the likeness of Christ, these “put on” characteristics tumble out of His heart onto the page. The language gives us some indication as to how all this works. These are, if you will, “to do’s.” They are not “how-to’s” because the how-to is supplied in the very nature of the One who lives within us. These are things that we must do to access that nature. It is real, and it is not hypocritical to allow Him to become our outward being, just like we have allowed Him to become our inward being.

When Christ came inside of us, the entire fullness of Him came within us (Colossians 2:9-10). This means all His characteristics and attributes. So, the Holy Spirit can now just say, “Take out compassion, kindness, etc. and let them be your expressions in this realm.” This is our part. You see, potentially the Lord forgave everyone, but everyone must receive Him and then live out His benefits. 6So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6) Likewise, all the benefits in Him (everything He is) awaits our willingness to allow its expression. It is all a matter of relationship. Accessing all He is merely means to receive and take as our own – all He is and all He brings into our persons as a result of His indwelling by our permission.

Sometimes we are lulled into the attitude of “Jesus will do it for me.” Now He does many, many things for us automatically (Ephesians 1:3-14 is a good illustration of that). But He does not overrule what we want. He longs for us to choose His way in all expressions of our lives. An awareness of this does not place us back under law at all but instead releases us into Him as He empowers our choice.

We have an awesome Savior! All these attributes, Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, putting up with one another and forgiving one another are all already empowered in us. Now let’s purposely begin to order our minds and actions according to that power. It is a marvelous interaction in Him!

Lord, thank you for all your gifts, but most of all for our relationship, so sweet and tender yet powerful and real, in You! In adoration we love You.

Let Freedom Ring!

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 11.05.39 AM9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:9-12 NIV

First the good news (above)! It really is good news. Everything about that passage is good news, and we have studied it in this series. We just needed to refresh ourselves in its truth before proceeding with today’s passage.

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:5-11 NIV

The Lord is very serious with us here. He has done the impossible part – he took off our flesh nature and has given us His – now our part is to put to death all the characteristics of that old self-person and receive the new self – the image being renewed continually in the image of our Father, Lord Jesus, and precious Holy Spirit. If we read Galatians 5:19-21 we will find a similar list when describing the “acts of the flesh.”

When the Lord does such marvelous giftings (as Himself in all fullness), there is always the expectation, empowerment, and instruction to join Him in that action by getting rid of all the traces of the expressions of that earth life. He does not do for us what He has told us to do. We can pray all day asking Him to take care of these, but He has instructed us to take care of them. We are not helpless, but empowered and free to choose. He teaches us how to choose.

These passages are freedom ones, urging us to take action in Him and in His designated power in us to change what only we can change.

So, let’s let freedom in His fullness Ring! Let us take advantage of everything His person is and not hold back when it gets tough on our flesh. Our flesh has been made holy in Him! That is what Colossians is saying! So, let’s cooperate in His fullness and allow these characteristics to die so the fruit of the Spirit can be expressed fully through us.

Lord, we have said yes, and we say yes again!