“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” ~ 1 John 2:3-6.
The Word that comes to heart for us to grab hold of and possess for our lives in this season of history that is unfolding before us is this: it is vital that we remember and live as the SANCTIFIED AND SET APART people of Jehovah-God in the likeness of the Christ we follow. We cannot fully obey God as God without this vital attitude of heart driving us to that obedience.
There are so many things in this life vying for our attention and our allegiance: things, “entities” that too easily become a god we bow to – jobs, money, food, self-gratification, other gods galore, from these things mentioned to everything from gods the multitudes bow to, including “mother earth” and “father time”. God’s word warns us in 1 Corinthians 10 (*vs. 18-21) that these gods, who are no true gods at all, do have a power. They are powered by the demons lurking behind them, making those gods seem strong and worth bowing down to. I believe that anything that draws us away from our allegiance to Father-God is influenced and used by the demonic, all of whom do not want us to grow in our knowledge of and unity with the One True God.
God’s word also tells us that there is only One True God, and all will bow to Him in due season (Philippians 2:1-11; Romans 14:11). Better for us to realize this truth and bow now by choice, sanctifying ourselves to Him now, rather than being forced to bow before His throne of judgment when it is too late for that act of reverence to do us any good for our eternal destiny. And I believe it will be a true act of reverence, for on that day all will see Him as He is and will recognize in Him all that He possesses that they long to know: His authority, His power, His beauty, His love, the true freedom He supplies, etc. They will know it fully, and they will also know that it is too late for them to choose it.
These will be cast into outer darkness – dark being everything that has nothing to do with God; and they will know full well that they will never be touched by or see all that glory again, for all eternity. There may well be real fire that burns forever in hell, but I believe the greater burning will be the burning desire to see Him, know Him and be touched by all He is just one more time. And there will be the burning fire within of knowing that desire for Him will NEVER be quenched.
Thus, my first thought for us today as we seek the Word of Life that will sustain us in these days, took my mind and heart to one of my favorite “life goal” passages found strengthened by the wording of the Amplified version of scripture:
“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And SET YOUR MINDS AND KEEP THEM SET ON WHAT IS ABOVE (THE HIGHER THINGS), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory” ~ Colossians 3:1-4, AMP.
It is vital right now that we decide to live sanctified, set apart lives for the glory of God, and we do that by “setting our minds and keeping them set on what is above, the higher things”: the eternal. We must be driven by eternal purposes, “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). We can better our lives here and effect change in the world best when we behave as good citizens of that eternal Kingdom of God to which we now belong and for which we already live and work to benefit. That means we must know Him and His ways so that we live lives of obedience in agreement with Him who is working a plan that is building for us a city in which to dwell for all time.
Looking at Colossians 3 through 4, here are words I see that speak to me of our duty and privilege where living set-apart-to-God lives is concerned:
“So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin] … put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things …” 3:5a, 8a.
Realizing that we have died with Christ on the cross, dying to the desires of our flesh and the sinful practices that do not truly represent our God is the first step to sanctified living. Until we discern with understanding that we are dead to the flesh – dead to the worldly, fleshly, demonic impulses, being set free from such things to bear the image of God, we will continue in those practices. Truly believing with understanding that we have been crucified with Christ and are no longer slave to our sinful impulses strengthens us to think about our choices and choose the freedom He has given us to live godly lives as His image-bearers, having been made alive even now to the eternity we will have with God.
“…you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it” ~ 3:9b-10.
Once we have come to understanding that we have stripped off the old, it is vital that we put on the new that is ours to possess through Christ, being renewed (transformed from the inside to become a totally new creation) and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and likeness of Him who is our creator. In other words, we are to be continually perfected in Him and in His likeness as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him and His ways.
Verse 11 of chapter 3 tells us that we are no longer separated from one another by color, creed, or genealogy, but we are sanctified and set apart as one in Christ: one body with Him, all of one Kingdom and creed, making no distinctions between us. Therefore we are to love one another and treat each other with respect, not thinking more highly of self than we ought, but seeing the good in each who possess Christlikeness, and encouraging each to discover their rightful place in His eternal purpose.
Verses 12-17 of chapter 3 instructs us in the clothing we are to dawn and what that new garment looks and feels like. Within it we are instructed in verse 15 that God’s kind of peace is our dwelling place. We are to live inside the envelope of His peace, and following that peace will direct our path to His will and way, umpiring us to recognize whether we are truly remaining in Him, sanctified and set apart in our daily living. When we fall away from His peace, we have fallen away from Him.
Verse 16 instructs us that as people who are set on Him and His kingdom, His word is to “dwell in you in [all its] richness”. If the world burns all our bibles, and they will one day, His word in us is what will equip us to continue encouraging and helping one another as we share together the things He brings up in our remembrance. And we are called as the sanctified people of God to develop faithfulness in teaching and instructing and encouraging one another in His truths. So growing in the knowledge of Him and His ways is a vital part of our sanctification.
Verse 17 instructs that we do all things as if we are doing for the Lord Himself. Whatever our work, whatever our preoccupation, God is to be the center of it, the reason for our doing our best, and the One we truly seek to please. When God gives me instruction for a topic to share with you, like He has done with this series, I spend many hours at the computer obeying His calling and equipping me. Many may see it as hours wasted that could be put to “good use” cleaning, cooking, being an ideal wife, or helping others. And there is a season for that when God calls me to it. But when He gives me something to write, my best use of my time is to set myself apart to His use, allowing Him to pour through me the words He desires to give you in due season.
When I let other things get in the way, though I may finally get to what God told me to do, the words do not flow, both because I lost the connection through failure to live set apart to Him, and partly because the time has passed for that word to reach people in the time of need. When I am prompt and faithful with the use of my time, I stand amazed that other things always manage to get done in their time, as I follow God in the wise use of my time. Living life to please Him in all we do is the greatest action we take as the set apart people of God.
The remainder of chapter 3 through chapter 4 gives examples of areas in which we are to practice doing all as if for the Lord Himself. I encourage you to read it and begin today to set yourself apart to Him as workers who will be found worthy at His coming.
Colossians chapter 4, verses 2 through 6 reminds us that as the Sanctified through Christ, our prayers and thoughts will constantly turn to Him for our help and strength. We will seek Him for our need and for that of others. And Paul expresses a major focus for the set apart ones: that of being His witnesses, having His words for those who ask any question about our faith and beliefs and practices. One of the greatest prayers you can pray for those like myself who are often called to share His thoughts with you, is to pray protection over our time use and our words, that we will be sanctified and set apart to Him, using time wisely and having His true words in due season.
Thus I say, in agreement with Paul to those of us who desire to live sanctified, set apart lives in the Lord, “See that you discharge carefully [the duties of] the ministry and fulfill the stewardship which you have received in the Lord” ~ Colossians 4:17. Live as people who are one with Him, being like Him in all your ways from thought through action, realizing your citizenry, and doing all things so as to please the King of the Kingdom, having Kingdom purpose in every word and deed that is driven by the eternal.
NOTE of encouragement concerning the Amplified Bible: Someone said to me that they did not like the Amplified version of scripture because the differing words that can be used in translation (found in brackets) are repeating the same meaning. In part that is true. But what I have found more true is that, where I find that in the Amplified, I look the words up in the dictionary. There I find added meaning brought by each word that strengthen and encourage my understanding and growth in the subject matter covered. I encourage you when using the Amplified to keep a dictionary handy and when it feels repetitive, define the words to see the subtle difference that bring greater understanding of who and what we are to be in this life, set apart to Him.