Meditations in Colossians 2: 14: Raised?
Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
We sometimes try to get over complicated with the simple picture language that Paul often uses. In the previous meditation we commented that it was sometimes unfamiliar Jewish language that needed thinking out, but our verse above has simple and straight forward language so let’s see what it says.
When he starts out “having been” it infers that what we now have before us actually happens before the things we considered in the previous verse. The “putting off of the sinful nature,” (v.11) takes place after you have died and been raised again. It is something that took place at conversion but needs working out through the rest of our lives. So let’s take this verse bit by bit.
“having been buried with him in baptism.” Let’s paraphrase that: when we were baptized it was a picture of our old self dying and being buried, just like Christ died and was buried, so just as his body needed the power from the Father to be raised to a new life, so did we. He was dead, and we were dead.
“and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” Similarly, just as the Father’s power raised Jesus’ body from the dead, as we responded to Him in faith, so He imparts and gives us that same power, the power of His Holy Spirit, to enable us to live new lives. Paul taught the same thing to the Romans: if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Rom 8:11)
To summarise, we died to our old life and God has now imparted His Spirit to us to raise up new lives in the likeness of Jesus with the same power that raised Jesus. Because this has happened the life we now live involves that “putting off of the sinful nature,” that we saw in v.11. There is a combination here of the work of God and our own activities. He provides the power but we have to exercise the will to purposefully put off self-centeredness and godlessness. When we purpose to fill and operate our lives with love and grace and truth, as we rely upon Him, so He enables us to do that. On a day when we may be feeling weak and incapable, as we turn to Him and ask for His supply, suddenly we find that we are coping, no, we are more than coping, we are being a blessing to others. This being raised to new life is enabled by Him but must be acted upon by acts of will as we work out our day by day lives. We have to determine not to lie, not to cheat, not to cut corners off integrity, not to look wrongly at a member of the opposite sex, not to speak wrong words that demean or put down, words that deceive or distort the truth. These are all ways of the ‘old life’, the ‘old nature’, ‘the sinful nature’ and they have no place in our lives today but it needs constant acts of will, and constant relying upon Him for this to be achieved.
We would do well to link in the next verse with all of this: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.” (v.13) Ah, there we have that Jewish flavour again. The difficult phrase is “the uncircumcision of your sinful nature”. For Paul there were Jews and Gentiles, the circumcised covenant people of God and the uncircumcised godless people of the rest of the world.
He is referring back there to how we were before we came to Christ and says that we were “dead in your sins,” meaning lifeless as far as God and true spiritual issues are concerned. We were living self-centred and godless lives that lead to unrighteous or sinful behaviour. That sinful lifestyle cut us off from God. When you are self-centred you cannot be God-centred at the same time. No, God seems a million miles away. If your life is a life being lived contrary to God’s design for us, then it is a sin life.
But when he says we were living “in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,” he simply means we used to be like Gentiles with no covenant relationship with God, still living in our old sinful ways – that is how it used to be! But now? “God made you alive with Christ.” We are what we are today – because God has put His Spirit in us and made us spiritually alive. The power is there, all we have to do is use it! And that is a matter of your will.