In Colossians 3, Paul gives as complete a description as we can find anywhere in Scripture of the Christian life—what we should and what we should not be and do. The Christian is to mortify his bodily passions: “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry...anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication...”, and so forth. Having done that, he is to express in holiness and love “mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering....” The list goes on, providing a complete pattern of godliness. In that one chapter, the Apostle Paul clearly presents the Christian life in unmistakable and practical terms.
Of course, most religions have moral standards and require a code of behavior for their adherents to follow. Buddha had his Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, Confucius his secular ethical philosophy. Other religions have their standards that, to some extent, reflect God’s moral laws written in everyone’s conscience. It is axiomatic, however, that no ethical philosophy can provide the moral strength to live up to its standards. No law can save; it can only condemn. Christianity, which sets by far the highest standard of all, is alone in providing the power to live a holy life. Therein lies another element of the uniqueness that separates it from every religion the world has ever known.
Paul did not impose upon the Colossian believers, or upon us today, a strict moral code that we must struggle to live up to in our own strength. The key to living the Christian life is found in one word in verses 5 and 12: therefore. “Mortify therefore” the sins of the flesh. “Put on therefore” the holiness and graces of Christ. Whatever therefore refers to, it gives both the reason for obedience and the power to obey. To what, then, does it allude? The answer is found in the preceding verses:
If [since] ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore.... Put on therefore.... (Colossians:3:1-4)
The power to live the Christian life comes from confidence in and gratitude for the marvelous, historic fact that Christ died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is now in heaven at the Father’s right hand. Yet there is another dynamic: the great hope of His soon appearing and of our appearing with Him as His bride at His side! This is no mere theological religious philosophy, but a vital, real relationship with One who could come at any moment to take us to be forever in His presence in a new, eternal dimension of living! Once that hope has gripped us, we have the motivation and power to live as truly born again and as God’s dear children, partakers of His divine nature.
Moreover, true Christians have a deep sense of the holiness of God and an awesome, respectful fear of the One to whom they must give account. They have a keen awareness of having broken His law, and they know the awful consequences of this. That is why they are so grateful that their sins have been forgiven. Until a person has been brought to these convictions, he is not ready to become a Christian on the terms that God offers in the Bible.
Yes, the Christian is crucified with Christ, dead to sin and to this world, and intimately identified with Christ in His cross. He has been raised with Him into new life—in fact, Christ is our life. But in addition to all of this, wonderful as it is, Paul exhorts us to live in this expectancy: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” The knowledge of that destiny delivers us from lusts and fears and causes this world to lose its attractiveness to us once and for all.
Christ could come at any moment to take us to His Father’s house, where we will be united with Him eternally. Then, when He appears and “every eye shall see Him” and Israel will recognize Him, we will be at His side in glorified bodies to rule and reign with Him—“and so shall we ever be with the Lord!” That is the Christian’s hope. Heaven is our real home and that is where our hearts are—with Him. The world has lost its appeal, sin has lost its power, and Satan must relinquish his claim upon those who belong to Christ. We have been set free!
– An excerpt from Countdown to the Second Coming by Dave Hunt