Walk the Walk (Col. 2:6-7)

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Introduction

How long does someone have to know you before they realize that you are a Christian? Our answer to this question can be very telling. Does our way of life reflect the reality of what has taken place for us in, through, and for Jesus Christ? For many professing Christians today, we would be hard pressed to distinguish their way of life from that of anyone else.

And I am not really talking about certain activities that we as Christians do or do not participate in. I think that is the popular way to preach this passage and that is why people often confuse Christianity solely with living a moral life.

What I am talking about is something deeper within us. What I have in mind is closer to our identity with and incorporation into Jesus Christ that changes our outlook on life, our worldview, the things that are important to us, and only then our behavior.

When the Apostle Paul talks about our way of life in this passage, he says little about how we should behave and a lot about the reality of what has taken place within us by the hand of God. This is because Paul knows, as we have been discussing for the past several weeks, that when we fully understand the gospel, and understand what has taken place for us and within us as a result of this good news, our way of living will soon reflect the reality of who we are in Christ. So we continue on this morning looking at those realities and Paul’s exhortation to be who we are in Christ.

What I hope to demonstrate from this passage this morning is that Because Christ Jesus is the Lord, the source, and the foundation of our faith, we must live in a manner appropriate for his followers.

I invite you to turn with me in your Bibles to Colossians 2. We will be looking at verses 6–7 this morning. Colossians 2:6–7.

We have reached a pivotal point in Paul’s letter and his argument for why the Colossians should reject the false teaching that is making its way into the church. The word “Therefore” at the beginning of verse 6 is often used by Paul to mark these pivotal transitions in his letters. Paul is transitioning here from introductory material to the meat of the letter.

And it has been said, and probably over said, but whenever you see the word “therefore” in Scripture you should ask yourself, what it is “there for.” And I think we should do that this morning. One commentator explains the “therefore” by saying, “These two verses summarize much of what has preceded and lay the foundation for the attack on the Colossian heresy that follows” (O’Brien, Colossians, 49).

Since these verses do summarize very concisely everything that has come so far in the letter, why don’t we do a quick review to remind ourselves where we have been. And then, once we have done that, these verses will prepare us for where we are going… into the heart of the letter.

Paul began his letter expressing his thanksgiving for the news he had received from Epaphras regarding the strong faith of the Colossians. But we quickly learned that while the faith of the Colossians was strong and steadfast, the church was in danger because of the proliferation of a false teaching within the church that was undermining the true gospel message. A teaching which at its core had reduced Christ from his rightful position as the supreme ruler over all creation to just one supreme ruler among many others (Thielman, Theology of the NT, 377).

As a result of this false teaching, the hope of many in Colossae was being threatened. And so, as we have mentioned, Paul is seeking to point them back to the hope that is contained in the gospel originally proclaimed to them by Epaphras. And so Paul reminded the Colossians in 1:5 that there is hope laid up for them in heaven.

Paul also reported how he constantly prays for the Colossians—that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and that they may live lives that bear fruit and are constantly increasing in their knowledge of God (Col. 1:9–10). And he reminded them of the most important part of this knowledge about God. Namely that it is God who has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13). Paul knew that right knowledge leads to right living.

And then we moved into the majestic hymn in verses 15–20 of Chapter 1. We stayed there two weeks in order to see that there is no part of creation that was not created by Jesus Christ and that there is no part of creation that will not be redeemed by Jesus Christ. In those verses, Paul established Jesus Christ as the Lord of Creation and the Lord of Redemption. And by establishing the supremacy of Christ over creation and the sufficiency of his death to reconcile sinners to God, Paul dismantled the core of this false teaching for the Colossians. And he exhorted the Colossians to worship Jesus as God, to submit to him as King, and to trust him as a sufficient savior. A savior who has reconciled us to God, making peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20).

And then two weeks ago, we looked at the mold of a minister by looking at Paul’s description of his ministry in verses 24–29 of Chapter 1. We noted that Paul had a willingness to suffer for the sake of the Colossians. And that he was willing to suffer for the Colossians because he had a divine commission. We saw in these verses that Paul had been given the responsibility for making “the word of God fully known.” He was to be a part of revealing the mysterious message of God that had been hidden for ages but had now been revealed to all in Jesus Christ—Jesus Christ the Hope of Glory. And we also learned in this sermon, that the purpose of Paul’s struggles were so that he might “present everyone mature in Christ.” Paul’s goal was to make mature disciples. A goal that we share with him today.

Paul knew that mature disciples would not be led away by plausible arguments promoting a counterfeit faith. And so we saw last week that he was struggling and striving in order that the Colossians would have strong hearts. Hearts which find strength in loving Christian relationships. Hearts which find strength in the Christ-Centered Gospel. And hearts which find strength in battle-ready churches.

And as we come to this week’s passage, and particularly to this word “therefore” at the beginning of verse 6, we should read it like this: “Now my dear Colossians, based on everything I have said so far, here is what I want you to do.” Based on the fact that there is hope laid up for you in heaven. Based on the fact that I am praying continually for you and struggling to present you mature in Christ. Based on the fact that Jesus is the Lord of Creation and the Lord of Redemption and has reconciled you to God by the blood of the Cross. Based on the fact that you have strong hearts and a steadfast faith. Based on all these things, here is what I want you to do. That is how we should read this word “therefore.”

So, the introductions are done. Paul is now ready to get to work dismantling this heresy. But before he does so, he offers these two verses to set the stage for what is to follow. Follow along with me as I read Colossians 2:6–7.

6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6–7 ESV)

Again, what I hope to demonstrate from this passage this morning is that Because Christ Jesus is the Lord, the source, and the foundation of our faith, we must live in a manner appropriate for his followers.

Notice in verse 6 that Paul says, “as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” What he is saying is, “You have been taught the gospel message by Epaphras, you received it as true, and were reconciled to God. But you are not done. That is not the end of the journey. You must continue on.” Remember Paul is trying to produce mature Christians. To present everyone mature in Christ. And so the Colossians must continue to walk the walk of faith.

What Paul means by the words “walk in him” is that the Colossians are to conduct their lives in a manner appropriate for followers of Christ. As we have noted before in this sermon series, “right knowledge leads to right living.” And Paul is basically saying to the Colossians, “You received and welcomed the teachings about Jesus Christ. You have been instructed in the faith. Epaphras taught you these things and you believed. And so now, you must continue to walk in Christ. You must continue to live a life that is worthy of his name.”

They must do this because Jesus Christ is THE Lord. Notice how emphatic that is in verse 6, Just as you have received Christ Jesus THE Lord. By saying it in this way, Paul is summarizing all the teachings about Christ that have come so far in this letter. He is the Lord of Creation and Redemption. He is the image of the invisible God. All the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in him. In him all things were created and he sustains all things. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the firstborn from the dead and he has reconciled us to God. Christ Jesus is THE Lord! And we are to worship him as God. And we, along with the Colossians, must continue our walk in him. We must continue to live in a manner appropriate for his followers.

You have heard the saying, “If you are going to talk the talk, you must walk the walk.” That is exactly what Paul is saying here. If you are going to call yourself a Christian. If you are going to profess faith in him. You are going to have to walk the walk. You are going to have to live a life that proves your faith is real. You must continue on in the one you received as your Lord and Savior. You have been buried with him in baptism and raised to WALK in newness of life. There is a reason we say that when we baptize new believers.

And in verse 7, Paul lists four characteristics of someone who is walking in Christ Jesus. He begins by saying those who continue on in a life of faith in Jesus, do so because they are…

Rooted In Him

Being rooted in Jesus does two things. It helps us to stand firm and it gives us much needed nourishment.

Picture this with me. Let’s say that you and I decide we should plant a new tree out behind the church. And so we load up and drive in someone’s truck down to the local nursery. After looking around for a while we finally settle on just the perfect tree. It is just a sapling. Pretty small, but we know that when it grows up it will be a big and beautiful tree.

When we arrive back at the church, we look around and find the perfect location and we dig a hole and we put some good fresh healthy soil in that hole and maybe even a little root starter to help the tree take root as quickly as it can. We do this because we know that the tree receives all its nourishment from its roots. And it needs to be firmly rooted in the ground as quickly as possible.

But we are realistic and realize that even though we are going to take good care of this little tree—we are going to feed it and water it at the recommended intervals, we are going to make sure it has everything it needs to grow and develop a healthy root system. But we realize this is going to take some time. And we know that until the tree develops a good root system it is at risk of being uprooted by strong winds. So what do we do? Well we take some cord and some stakes and we secure the tree in an upright position. And so when a storm comes before the tree has had a chance to develop its own root system, the cord and the stakes will keep the tree standing upright.

My point to all this is that roots are important. They provide nourishment to help a tree grow and they provide the tree with a firm foundation. A foundation that will keep the tree standing tall when the wind blows.

And Paul knows that what the Colossian believers have been taught has firmly rooted them in Jesus Christ. Jesus provides their spiritual nourishment and Jesus keeps them standing firm in the faith. This rooting has taken place in the past, but has ongoing ramifications for the present and for the future. They stand strong today because they have been well rooted.

And it is something that was done to them by the hand of God. They did not root themselves in Jesus Christ, the Holy Sprit did. And the same is true for us. We are like a little baby who has been given a bottle. The baby receives the benefit of it and may keep a firm grip on that bottle, but the baby could not fix her own bottle. Someone else had to prepare it and give it to her. And nourishment flows through that bottle. And the baby is made strong and is able to eventually stand up right because of that bottle.

We have been rooted in Jesus Christ. We did not do it. God did it as part of his beginning a good work in us. And like the roots of the tree we planted provide a firm foundation for that tree, our roots in Jesus Christ provide us with a firm foundation. A foundation that as we see in the next part of verse 7, can be built upon. We see here that those who continue on in a life of faith in Jesus, do so because they are…

Built Up in Him

Again, the form of the verb here indicates to us that this is action being done to us. It is a passive verb. We are BEING built up. And it is in the present tense, indicating a continuing and ongoing activity. In other words, we are not finished products. As perfect as we may think we are, we still have a long way to go. To use Paul’s building metaphor, we are still under construction and God is our builder.

But the point here is that God has firmly established Colossians in the true gospel message. They are firmly established in the gospel originally preached to them by Epaphras. They have a firm foundation in the faith. And to leave this firm foundation they are settled in for something shaky and false is ridiculous.

When I was a kid my dad built us a tree house in the backyard. It was a really nice tree house, but it was still a tree house. Well, I had this friend who got mad at his parents one day and came to my house with a bag full of stuff. And he was convinced that he was just going to live in my tree house. We devised a plan of sneaking food out to him everyday and were convinced that he could live there indefinitely.

Our plan was foiled very quickly when his parents called my parents looking for him. And we packed his stuff up and he went home. But how silly we were. What would we have done when it was really cold? What would we have done in bad weather? He left a well built house for a rickety old tree house that provided no real protection for him from the elements.

And this was Paul’s point to the Colossians. He was basically saying, “You are firmly established in the gospel you have been taught. Why give any attention to these false teachers and their lies?” To do so would be like leaving a well-built house in severe weather to go outside and sit in the tree house. It would be ridiculous.

So we have seen this morning that we have been rooted in Jesus Christ and we are being progressively built up in Jesus Christ. And Paul continues on with these ideas by showing us the third way we are to walk in faith. We see next in verse 7 that those who continue on in a life of faith in Jesus, do so because they are…

Established in the Faith

And we have already hinted at this some. Being rooted and being built up is related to this idea of being established or strengthened in the faith. But there is an important nuance here that we need to pay attention to. The faith that Paul says they need to be strengthened in, is the faith they were originally taught by Epaphras.

In other words, don’t give any attention to these new teachings the false teachers are presenting to you. You establish yourself in the true gospel proclaimed to you by Epaphras which was originally proclaimed to him by me. And was originally proclaimed to me by Jesus himself. Paul wants the Colossians to allow God to strengthen their faith and establish their faith through their efforts to fully grasp the true gospel message, the realities of their faith. That is how they would resist the false teaching. That is how they would remain in good order and firm in their faith. They would do so by being firmly established in the gospel message taught to them by Epaphras.

And the same is true for us today. When God saved us, he did it through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were and are rooted in that. We have been built up in it. And if we are to continue walking the walk of faith, we don’t look for something new, something different, something that is trendy, we just keep on walking in the faith that started us on this journey in the first place. We must continue to live in light of the truth that saved us in the first place. Namely, Jesus is Lord. He was crucified, buried, and raised on the third day.

You have received these things, you were rooted in them, and are being built up in them more and more. Don’t abandon the simple gospel message for something new that comes along. New things come and go. This message that we believe has endured for two thousand years. Always be skeptical of something new. I don’t think God would have let the church get it wrong for two thousand years only to be corrected by some new discovery that is the key to unlocking the Bible today. Make it your aim to understand, as fully as you are able, the gospel message in which you first believed. Be strengthened in that. Establish yourself more and more in that. You can never go deeper and further than the gospel. It is a bottomless pit of wonder.

And it is into this you have been rooted, are being built up and progressively established more and more. And what should be the result of this good news? We see that at the end of verse 7. Those who continue on in a life of faith in Jesus, should be…

Abounding in Thanksgiving

If you were here on Wednesday night, this was the theme of our Psalm. Jeremy recited a portion of it this morning in our call to worship. If you remember, the first verse of that Psalm says:

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

That is the proper attitude of a Christian. We are to give thanks with our whole heart. Not a half-hearted, “thanks,” but thanks with our whole heart.

Thankfulness to God in this way is evidence that we are walking the walk. It is evidence that we have received Christ Jesus as Lord. That we have been rooted in him and are being built up and strengthened in the faith by him day after day. Our hearts are to overflow with thanksgiving when we consider the wonderful things he has done for us.

Because we have a young daughter we have been to a lot of birthday parties and have had a lot of birthday parties. And for the most part, children have a really hard time with gratitude. They don’t really understand that people paid money for all those gifts that they are just tossing to the side as soon as they open them. My daughter is guilty of it as well. But gratitude comes with understanding. As children get older they begin to understand that things aren’t free. And the way you buy things is by paying for them. And that requires someone to work hard.

And sometimes I think that is why we don’t have gratitude as Christians. We are much like a little child who has received a gift and doesn’t understand that it cost someone something. Friends, though the grace of God is freely given, it is not free! Christ bought it with a price and that price was his own life. That is an infinite price. One we could never pay. Brothers and sisters let us not be like little children who do not understand the value of the gift someone has given them.

And the price of our salvation was infinitely higher than some silly little trinket we buy for kids on their birthday. Let us be thankful for what God has done for us. Gratitude comes with understanding. Make it your aim to mature in the faith and understand the gospel more and more. I am sure that when you do, you will be more and more thankful as you understand more and more what God has done for you.

This was Paul’s expectation of the Colossians. Having received Epaphras’ teaching about Jesus as true, and thus having been firmly rooted in Christ, Paul exhorts them, to conduct their lives in a manner appropriate for his followers. Behavior which includes being progressively built up in him and being continually strengthened in the faith, all of which should lead to overflowing expressions of thankfulness to God.

Conclusion

Are you thankful? Are you overflowing with thanksgiving? If so then the answer to the question I opened with today, “How long does someone have to know you before they realize that you are a Christian?”, is probably “not very long.” One of the greatest ways we can witness to others about Jesus Christ is to overflow with thanksgiving for what he has done for us. If we are not very excited about it, then why should we expect others to believe what we are telling them is really good news?

And I am not pointing fingers, I am guilty of this too. But brothers and sisters, we have so much to be thankful for. I want you to understand, as fully as you are able, what Jesus Christ has done for you. I want you to understand it because I know when you do, you will be filled with thanksgiving to the point that it affects the way you live.

So now, I would like us to simply stop and take a moment to remain silent and ponder on the mighty works of God on our behalf. Take some time to consider what God has done for you and how grateful you are to him. He has saved you and rooted you in Jesus Christ. He is building you up and strengthening you in your faith. Please take some time with me to reflect on those things. I will conclude us with prayer. Please bow your heads with me.