Women’s Bible study: Colossians 3:18-4:1

All relationships take new form and shape as they are found and defined in the context of our relationship with Christ.

All earthly relationships reflect a heavenly relationship.  If you look through these pairs:  We are the bride of Christ and He is our heavenly husband.  We are God’s children and He is our father. We willingly devote ourselves to God as His slaves, He is our Master. So as we look at these pairs, we see not just the human responsibility of each, but we see how God perfectly does these things — He perfectly loves us and is never harsh with us. He perfectly raises us and does not provoke or discourage us. And he is the perfect master who always treats us justly and fairly. And so beyond the earthly relationships we see ourselves in all three of those on the right-hand side if you will.

We are wives, children, slaves — all of us.

Issue: Resisting authority Sin: Abusing authority
Wives: Submit to your husbands Husbands: Love wives, don’t be harsh
Children: Obey parents in everything Fathers: Don’t provoke or discourage
Slaves: Obey all, work as unto God Master: Treat justly and fairly
Us God
Bride of Christ, wife Bridegroom, Heavenly Husband
Children of God Heavenly Father
Bondslaves (doulos) of God Heavenly Master (Lord, Kurios)

And then, on the other hand—we see this larger issue also at play here:

All the left side are addressing our sinful tendency to resist authority, and all the ones on the right side are addressing our sinful tendency to abuse authority. 

The essence of the sin on the left is our prideful and arrogant resistance to the order and authority that God has placed on humans. And the essence of sin on the right is our pride and corrupt use of power for our own selfish gain. All of us are prone to the sins of both sides.

It is so much bigger than a battle of the sexes issue. It is so much bigger than what parenting method you use. What the heart of the issue is, is allowing “what is earthly”  to reign in our hearts, to live according to our own passions and desires and authority, to let all the list we studied last week live in our relationships.

The essence of the sin on the left is our prideful and arrogant resistance to the order and authority that God has placed on humans. And the essence of sin on the right is our pride and corrupt use of power for our own selfish gain. All of us are prone to the sins of both sides.

We are most tempted to abuse our authority when we have authority over someone we don’t like. That’s a dangerous combination:

  • Power + ill-will = abuse.
  • Power + love = lifting others and using all authority as a way to elevate, bless, and help others.

Power and authority without love, or even mixed with hate or dislike, turns into misused authority, or abuse.

So we must be very careful how we treat those who we have power over. This is why God warns us over and over in scripture–be careful how you treat the poor, the alien, the widow, the orphan. The vulnerable are those who we have power over, right? And so without a true heart of love, we will all fall prey to an abuse of power, using our rights and authority for our own good instead of theirs.

Colossians: Fully Pleasing God

Week 7 of Colossians: Fully Pleasing God
Scripture: Colossians 3:18-4:1
Teacher: Kari Patterson
Date: 3/4/14

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things to think about …

  • Which of these three pairs of commands challenges you most? Are you usually more tempted to selfishly resist authority or selfishly misuse your authority? Spend some time confessing & praying through which conviction you feel.
  • In response to what we studied here, write out a “plan” for how you can be more intentional in these challenging relationships. How can you choose submission, encourage obedience, and work as unto the Lord in all things? Be specific.

Verse to memorize:

“Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men.” —Colossians 3:23

Kids’ verse:

“Children obey your parents all the time! For this makes God happy!” —Colossians 3:20

Scriptures: Colossians 3:18-4:1

3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

4:1 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.


Audio for this teaching is included in the RENEW Church podcast: subscribe in iTunes here, listen to all Women’s Bible Study messages at Godrenews.us/women, or access the church podcast feed directly here.

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