If then you were raised with Christ

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Chapter 3 of Colossians contains a lists of do’s and don’ts for the person who has been raised with Christ. Who is the apostle referring to when he says they had been raised with Christ? What things does Paul say a person must remove? What must be put on? Let’s study together and learn.

We will use scripture to determine what is meant by the expression “raised with Christ”.  In Romans 6:3-6, Paul who includes himself with the Romans by using the pronoun us, says they both were baptized into the death of Christ. But he does not stop there. Paul goes on to say in Romans 6:4 that “just as Christ was raised from the dead, even we also should walk in newness of life”. 

Verses 3 thru 6 speak of both a burial and a resurrection. When the person who is dead in their sins (compare to Ephesians 2:1), hears the gospel, believes in Christ and is baptized for the remission of their sins they are saved. Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38. They have been born again. Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3 about this new birth. Jesus said,   “Unless one is born of the water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God, John 3:5  “Marvel not that I said you must be born again”, John 3:7.  

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:22-23 saying “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth…having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God that lives and abides forever.” By reading God’s word we understand that the penitent believer is to be baptized to be saved. That saved person is now a member of the Lord’s church, Acts 2:47.  

That same person is translated out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13. Again, compare this with what Jesus told Nicodemus about entrance into the kingdom, John 3:5. The sinner who is dead in their sins can be raised to walk in newness of life, when they obey the gospel of Christ. The final act that puts one into Christ is the same act the Paul describes in Romans 6. “Know you not that as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?” Romans 6:3 “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27.

What else may we learn about baptism into Jesus’ death from the book of Colossians? In Colossians 2:11-12 we read that there is a putting off of the sins of the body. This is spiritual circumcision. Back in Romans 6:6, Paul describes the body of sin being done away with. We have died to sin when we obey the gospel. The old man is done away with. Paul describes the one who in Christ as being a “new creation” in 2 Corinthians 5:17. 

Can we now understand why Paul is addressing those in Colossians 3:1 who have been “raised with Christ”? These people are those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, as those mentioned in Revelation 1:5. Was their forgiveness and salvation from their sins the end of their duties and responsibility to Christ? Not at all. Being born again is only the beginning. Note the following instructions from the apostle.

Verse 2, set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. Put to death your members on the earth, verse 5. Why? The flesh wars against the spirit. The works of the flesh are those earthly things we are to not think on or participate in. These works are listed as fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and covetousness which is idolatry.  

Even though the old man of sin was cut off and put away initially when we were baptized into Christ, there is an ongoing need to put off the old man with is deeds, Colossians 3:9. Included in these sinful behaviors we should put off are anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 

May I ask those of you who are Christians how you are doing at removing these from your lives? Paul said in Galatians 5:21 that those who practice the works of the flesh shall not enter into the kingdom of God. That passage is speaking of the kingdom of heaven.  Compare it to 2 Peter 1:11. All of us want to go to heaven, don’t we? To do so requires doing what the Lord says. Dear reader, we must not be deceived. We must put on the new man that is according to the image of the Creator, Colossians 3:10. Where do you and I stand with respect to Colossians 3? Let us follow the apostle’s instruction in Colossians 3:17. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Robert Knowles is a member of McArthur Heights Church of Christ.