Life-Study of Colossiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 3:18—4:6. This portion of Colossians contains matters that are crucial for our Christian life. We should not isolate this part of the book from the foregoing chapters and verses. On the contrary, we need to see that it is a continuation of all that Paul has covered. We have pointed out again and again that Colossians reveals who Christ is and what Christ is. Eventually, in 3:10 and 11, we see that Christ is the new man. Because Christ is the new man, we and Christ are one. This is the basic and most crucial point in this book.
In chapters one and two Paul covers many aspects of Christ. Christ is the portion of the saints, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation, the firstborn from among the dead, the One in whom the fullness of the Triune God dwells, the mystery of God’s economy, the mystery of God, the indwelling hope of glory, and the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In chapter two Paul goes on to declare that Christ is the reality of all the shadows. Because such a Christ is all and in all in the new man, of which we are a part, Christ eventually becomes us. We and Christ are one. God’s ultimate goal in His economy is to gain this new man constituted of the preeminent, all-inclusive Christ wrought into a corporate people. We all need to have such a high view of God’s economy. According to this view, we and Christ are one, for we and He have one life with one living.
Paul’s intention in writing the book of Colossians was to impress all the believers with the fact that Christ is everything. The Jewish believers should forget their ordinances and observances, and the Gentile believers should lay aside their philosophical concepts. We were not regenerated for the sake of such observances and concepts. We were regenerated for Christ. Now we need to be filled with Christ, saturated with Christ, and permeated with Christ until Christ becomes us.
We have pointed out that in God’s economy there is one Person, Christ, and one way, the cross. Through this one Person and one way, God will gain the new man. The new man is Christ constituted into us. On the one hand, the new man is Christ; on the other hand, we, the believers, are the new man. For this reason, in the new man, Christ and we are one.
As those who are part of the new man, we need to let the peace of Christ arbitrate within us and let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. If we do this, we shall spontaneously express Christ in our daily living. This means that we shall live out Christ, for we are one with Him, we have His peace, and we have His word. Therefore, we become the expression of Christ in a practical way.
God desires that Christ be expressed through human life. We see this in 3:18—4:1, a sister passage to Ephesians 5:22—6:9, regarding the believers’ ethical relationships. In Ephesians the emphasis is on the need of spirit-filled ethical relationships for the expression of the Body in the normal church life. In Colossians the emphasis is that we should hold Christ as our Head and take Him as our life by having His rich word dwelling in us, that the highest ethical relationships, issuing not from our natural life but from Christ as our life, may be realized for His expression.
If we live in union with Christ, Christ will be expressed through our humanity. Christ is to be expressed in the human life, not in the angelic life. Angels cannot express Christ. The Father has ordained that we, His chosen ones, be the expression of His Son. “Live Thyself, Lord Jesus, through me,” should be our prayer (see Hymns #403).
If we would be those through whom Christ can live, we need to pass through the first two and a half chapters of the book of Colossians. Then, coming to 3:15 and 16, we need to be those in whom the peace of Christ arbitrates and in whom the word of Christ dwells richly. Then Christ will be expressed in our human living.
Many of those in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Catholicism have a low estimate of human life. They do not care for marriage or for the proper family life. They prefer to remain unmarried, and they aspire to live a type of angelic life. But the angelic life cannot express Christ. On the contrary, Christ needs to be expressed in those who are husbands, wives, parents, children, masters, and slaves. In order to express Christ, we need to have a proper and normal human life.
As an elderly person with eight children and more than twenty grandchildren, I can testify that the Lord knows how to choose the best husband or wife for us and what kind of children we should have. He also knows how to break us and make us transparent so that we can express Christ. Through our family life we learn many valuable lessons from the Lord. I believe that the angels are observing to see whether or not we live out Christ in our family life. It is not as difficult to live out Christ in the church as it is to live Him out at home. But how wonderful it is for a brother or sister to express Christ in his or her married life! No brother or sister in the Lord’s recovery should aspire to live like a monk or nun. At the right time, the brothers and sisters should marry and then learn through the experiences of married life to express Christ in their human living.
The living of the saints in union with Christ should result in the expression of Christ in human life. If we see this, we shall praise the Lord for our human living. Furthermore, we shall have a fresh appreciation for married life. I can testify that I am thankful for my wife, children, and grandchildren. I am grateful for all the lessons the Lord has taught me through them. The more I advance in years, the more I appreciate the lessons I have learned through the course of my human life. In the relationship between wife and husband and between children and parents we need to live out Christ and express Him.
The principle is the same in the relationship between masters and servants. In verses 22 through 25 Paul gives a charge to the slaves. In verse 24 he speaks of receiving “the reward of the inheritance.” This point is not made as clear in Ephesians 6:8 as it is here. There is an inheritance for the believers (Rom. 8:17; Acts 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4). The reward of the inheritance indicates that the Lord uses the inheritance which He will give His believers as an incentive that they may be faithful in their service to Him. The unfaithful ones will surely miss this reward (Matt. 24:45-51; 25:20-29).
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