Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28374 September 23, 2018
“Behave Ye in Christ”
We have received an excellent store of teaching from our series through Colossians—chiefly about the Person and work of Christ. This will bear us in good stead as we examine the Colossian heresy in weeks to come—and, by extension, as we identify contemporary threats to sound doctrine. Today, however, we receive a key further exhortation as we would embrace truth and rebuff error and heresy—namely, “Behave ye in Christ.” God calls us to sound Christian walk, and let us hear more of this as we hear God’s written Word read once again in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
There is one imperative in the text, and it governs the whole text, namely, “Walk ye in Him.” We are to walk in Jesus Christ—having received Him, by faith, as Savior and Lord. This receipt of Jesus by faith stands foundational to what follows (yea, to everything else as well). Now we are ready to work upon the verb walk, and, as we being the work, we note two senses of that verb. We walk with Christ spiritually much like we walk with a friend literally; we walk shoulder-to-shoulder in the same direction, and we enjoy one another’s company and conversation. We walk thus with Christ as we use His appointed means of grace, such as Scripture, prayer, corporate worship, the sacraments, and the like. We also note this second sense: the noun walk, as used in Colossians 2:6, among other New Testament examples, is equivalent to the noun conduct. That is, God calls us to conduct ourselves, or behave ourselves, in a manner worthy of Him. Indeed, God’s moral law remains obligatory for Christians, but this not
to earn salvation—for Christ procured our salvation by His perfect active and passive obedience. We behave as God’s decrees in order to glorify Him. In particular, we aim in our conduct to please Him in His Son, Jesus Christ. As we behave in a manner consistent with God’s Word, we both flee sin and display what He is like to both Church and world. Hence, the command walk ye in Him well may be translated behave ye in him. So, then, let us behave in Christ—fortified as follows.
First, we are rooted in Christ Jesus. Recall His teaching, in the Sermon on the Mount, on the wise and foolish builders (Matthew vii.24-27). One built on solid rock, and when the storm assailed his house, the house endured. Another built on sand. When the storm assailed his house, the house fell with a great crash. The moral follows: We would be as those who build their lives upon solid ground. Jesus is, as the old hymn, says, the solid Rock. It is not easy to uproot plants with strong, deep roots; many of us can verify this from our recent experiences. Nor is it easy to topple houses erected upon solid foundations. Nor it is easy to shake Christians once well-rooted in Christ Himself. Let us be among the company thus rooted.
Second, we are built—or built up—in Christ Jesus. This up-building rises from a solid foundation. Hence, God builds us by putting us each together ideally for His glory and service. God also makes us, via this building process, increasingly able in life and ministry. We grow increasingly experienced in life, increasingly conformed to the Lord’s will in life, and increasingly competent and fruitful in Christian ministry. Indeed, being rooted in Christ, let us be built up in Him by His power for His glory.
Third, we are established in the faith. Though we are not a finished product, so to speak, until the new heavens and the new earth, being established in the faith is a worthy goal here on earth. When established in the faith of our Lord Jesus, we become increasingly certain concerning Him and His things. We also become, as noted earlier, increasingly strong against the storms of life—and, therefore, we become increasingly unshakable in Jesus Christ. Arrival at this establishment stage takes both time and testing (or trial, if you will). Even after long time and much trial, we have not arrived yet. We arrive in Glory only.
God would have us rooted, built, and established as we were taught. Presumably we learn from God Himself, Who directs us into the ways in which we should walk (cf. Isaiah 30:21). God reveals Himself by quickening His written Word, the Bible, to our souls—and if we would know the Lord well, we would know the Bible very well. We also receive teaching from those, called of God, who teach and live faithfully. Such have proven a blessing to my soul over the years and the decades, and I trust the same is true for you.
Being rooted, built, and established, God would have us abounding, or overflowing, in thanksgiving. True, we give thanks to God in every circumstance, for this is His will for us in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18), but let us, in view of today’s text, render thanks to our triune God for His Son Jesus Christ and for the benefits that flow from knowing Him—and being His—by faith. Let our thanks to God, then, well up in us unto overflowing—to the glory of God and to the blessing of many.
The Holy Spirit, through Peter, declares, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter i.3a). This includes walking with Jesus Christ, by faith, in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. We walk with the Lord experientially through Scripture, prayer, corporate worship, et al., and we walk with Him practically by obedience to His moral law, given in Scripture. Therefore, may we so walk—may we so behave—that we display our belonging to the Lord in a manner and to a degree obvious both to believer and to unbeliever. As we walk thus, may we know the pleasure of God upon our lives—and may we avoid the pains that disobeying Him often bring. May we so walk, then, that God may be glorified, believers may be edified, and unbelievers may be drawn irresistibly to our Savior, Jesus Christ.