Oct 8, 2017

Mature in Christ: Life Group Study 7

SPIRITUAL CONTEXT:

Given what we've already learned of them, it would be easy to cast the Colossians as simple-minded people who were gullible to any argument that would prevent them from fully embracing the Christian message.  As this passage shows us, however, their desire to cling to new teachings is rooted in real human needs.  The Colossians concerns are our concerns.

Like all Christians trying to live a life that pleases the Lord, they were wrestling with their sin.  While they heard the Cross was enough to free them from sin's power, their experience told them otherwise.  They kept sinning in heart, body, and mind, and this frustrated them.  They felt trapped by their sin, and this lead them to feel distant from God.

Into this situation came the false teachers.  They taught that, by adhering to their teachings, the Colossians could finally escape the tyranny of sin.  This is why the Colossians were so ready to believe and follow them.

LITERARY CONTEXT:

This is the "hinge" upon which the whole letter turns.  Chapters 1 and 2 primarily focused on the Gospel "indicative".  They defined the Gospel and showed how it is sufficient to meet all the Colossians spiritual needs.  It shows them who they are in Christ.

The rest of the letter now focuses on the Gospel "imperative":  how the Colossians are to live out there lives in light of who Jesus has made them.  

As you remember, the Colossian Christians believed the Gospel was inadequate to deal with the current power of sin and temptation in their lives.  So, false teachers entered the church and offered various rituals and practices to help them resist sin. These could be added to their faith in Christ.  

As you also remember, these false teachings actually further enslaved the Colossians to their sin.  It lied to them by telling them they now had the power to free themselves.  This pulled them into a death spiral of religious adherence.

Having outlined the wrong way to deal with sin's pervasive power in the believer's life in Chapters 1 and 2, Paul gives the Colossians the right way to do so in Chapters 3 and 4.


Scripture | Colossians 3:1-4

  1. When you're feeling really tempted to sin (or are actively giving into temptation), what do you normally do (or try to do) to stop?  Does it work?  For how long does it work?  How does that make you feel?
  2. Read the entire passage.  In a few words, how would you describe Paul's instructions on how to deal with temptation and sin?
  3. What instructions does Paul have for the Colossians here?  What do you think that means? — Verse 1
  4. According to verse 1, does a person "seek the things that are above" in order to be "raised with Christ"?  Why or why not?  Why is this important?
  5. What is Paul's instruction in the first part of verse 2? How is it different from what he says in VS. 1?  Why do you think he "repeats" himself? — Verse 2a
  6. What is Paul's instruction in the second part of verse 2?  What do you think this means?  What doesn't it mean? — Verse 2b
  7. What do these verses mean?  Why is Paul telling the Colossians this?
    Verses 3-4
  8. How would you apply these lessons to your own battle against sin?
  9. How might this passage be helpful to someone you live, work, play, and/or learn with?