Author: Ron Graham
Christ, Judge of All Conduct
—plus “Rules for the Born Again”
Paul’s main concern in his letter to the Colossians is the all-sufficiency of Christ and his knowledge. Yet a quarter of what Paul says to the Colossians is about their conduct or “walk” —the way they live, talk, act, and think.
The Colossians were expected to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to fully please him" (Colossians 1:10). That is only fitting for those who "died with Christ", were "raised with Christ", and will be "with Christ in glory" (Colossians 3:1-4).
The Colossian Christians weren't expected to walk in their own strength, but to rely on the all-sufficiency of Christ to enable their walk. Paul has in mind three things that Christ does for those who seek to fully please him.
1 Christ is Our Judge
In all things, Christ is our Judge and no one else is required to be the judge of our walk in Christ. "So let no one judge you..." (Colossians 2:16).
People love to add bits of other religions to Christianity. They make rules that Christ did not make. They want to impose on you "the commandments and doctrines of men" (Colossians 2:22).
Paul says, "Christ is our life" (Colossians 3:4). He alone commands us and his gospel is all-sufficient for a solid faith to live by. He is the one we are to please, and it is his approval we seek.
2 Christ Orders our Lives
Paul congratulates the Colossians for their good order. "¶For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit. I rejoice to see your good order and your solid faith in Christ" (Colossians 2:5).
Paul makes the point that they maintained this good order in his absence without him having to be there to order them around. So he encourages them, "As you therefore have received Christ, so walk in him" (Colossians 2:5-7).
Notice that this "good order" was received from Christ, not from people preaching things, and binding things, that did not come from “the Lord Jesus Christ”
In his letter, Paul certainly throws a lot of commandments at the Colossians. However Paul adheres to the first principle that Christ is the Judge of all conduct. Paul adds no rules of his own, but teaches only those things which Christ commands for an orderly and pleasing life.
After warning the Colossians not to subject themselves to religious rules, Paul writes down rules for them to obey! But he doesn't give them "the commandments and doctrines of men" (Colossians 2:20-23).
Rather he gives them the rules of the Lord Jesus Christ (chapters 3 and 4). Christ judges our conduct by his rules alone. See what a contrast the Lord's rules make against those of the self-appointed religious rulers!
3 Christ Conforms Us to His Image
Paul reminds the Colossians that, in their baptism, the old person died and was buried. Now a new person lives whose "life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 2:12, 3:3).
We avoid "the wrath of God" (Colossians 3:6-7) when we "put on the new person who is renewed into a deep knowledge conforming to the image of the new person’s Creator" (Colossians 3:10)
We put on the new person after the old person has "died with Christ" (Colossians 3:3) and been "buried with him in baptism" (Colossians 2:12)
Manifestly Christ does not anymore judge someone he has killed and buried. So as long as we keep that old person dead, that dead person will not be subject to the judgment of Christ.
Rather, Christ will judge the living person, the person he has brought to life and conformed to his own image. He will judge this renewed person favorably, because he has added that person to his elect or chosen people (Colossians 3:10-12).
Rules for the Born Again
Jesus makes rules for the heart, because he knows the spirit controls the body. Imposing rules and discipline upon the body doesn't work and has no value (Colossians 2:23).
A person's mindset is what matters (Colossians 3:2). The body will fall into line. If the heart is evil, the flesh will do evil. If the heart is righteous, so will the body be.
You don't have to crouch chained and gagged in a dungeon to stop your body from fornicating, stealing, or talking filth. You just have to let Jesus change and control your inner person who has been recreated in his image (Colossians 3:10).
Is your problem a body that won't do what you tell it, or rather a heart that won't think like Christ tells it? Jesus once illustrated this by saying to cut off your hand if it's the offender —but of course it's your inner person that's the offender, not a body part.
Here is Paul's sample of the heart rules that Jesus lays down. How simple these are compared to all the unnecessary rules and regulations that religious dictators burden people with.
Sample rules for the heart
“Continue earnestly in prayer” (Colossians 4:2).
“Let God‘s peace rule in your hearts” (3:15).
“Seek the things which are above” (3:1).
“Put off... filthy language” (3:8).
“Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord” (3:23).