08 Colossians 3:8-17 Real Gospel Change

by | Mar 30, 2016 | 01 Podcasts, Colossians

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector from Luke 18 captures the main point of Colossians 3:8-17.

18:9  He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:  10″Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’  13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  –Luke 18:9-14
  • The Pharisee stands by himself to keep himself clean.  The tax collector stands by himself because he considers himself unworthy to approach the temple.
  • The Pharisee prayers the prayer of the “religiously superior.” By contrast the tax collector begs for his sins to be covered.
  • The Pharisee counts on his ability to keep the law while the tax collector counts on the mercy of God.
  • The Pharisee went home as empty as he came. The tax collector went home justified.
  • Paul sounds the same warning in Colossians 3:  Don’t trust in your law-keeping; trust in the blood of Christ and the hope of the gospel. Then you’ll see real change.


The Colossians have been listening to false teachers who insist keeping a set of rituals is required to be pleasing to God. In response, Paul has mounted a 2-prong attack:

  1. He explains that teaching is wrong because rules and rituals only curb outward behavior.  They do nothing to change our guilt and sin.
  2. He insists that the cross of Christ is the only real solution to guilt and sin, because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin, justifying us and reconciling us with God.

In addition, Paul argues that the gospel changes my lifestyle because the gospel gives me: 1) the right goal, 2) the right perspective and 3) the power to change through the work of the Holy Spirit.


3:5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices  10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.  12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  – Colossians 3:5-17
  • The first list in 3:5 deals with desire. This second list in 3:8 deals with the way we relate to each other, particularly the things we say.
  • The list in 3:5 concerns loving God with all my heart.  The list in 3:8 concerns loving my neighbor as myself.
  • Outward behavior changes as a results of the produced inside us by the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • What is it that is new about the new man?  A new true knowledge, a new understanding.
  • When it comes to salvation, all of us start with the same problem (sin) and all of us need the same solution (grace through the blood of Jesus).
  • God’s love is an active reaching out to do good for us, not warm fuzzy feelings.  We are called to show that same kind of self-sacrificing love to others.
  • When you are faced with a choice on how to act and how to treat someone, let the peace of Christ cast the deciding vote.
  • Let the word of Christ inform everything you do.

For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.

Next: 09 Colossians 3:18-4:1 Do All in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

Previous: 07 Colossians 3:1-7 Set your mind on the things above

Series: Colossians: Getting the Gospel Right

Study: Colossians Resources

Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash