Colossians 3:22-23

Dr. Steve Viars February 4, 1995 Colossians 3:22-23

- we've been studying the book of Colossians together.
- let me ask you this morning -- do you believe you're getting a "good
     handle" on the content and message of this book?
      - whenever we do a book study like this, one of our goals is that
         we be able to think through the main argument, or the main
         themes of the book.
      - of course the purpose of that is to be able to call those truths
         up throughout the week and be able to change our thinking and

      - I trust that there's been definite, specific times where you've
         changed your direction as a result of the biblical truths we've
         been studying.
           - where you've said something like, "wait a minute, because
              Jesus Christ is pre-eminent, I can't think (such and such)"
                - or "I can't say...." or "I can't do..."

           - or, "because Jesus Christ is pre-eminent, I must think such
               and such, or say such and such, or do such and such."

- one thing that may halp in that endeavor is to read the book of
   Colossians at one sitting at least once a week, or as often as you
     - and then to ask -- how should the message of this book affect the
        challenges I'm facing just know?
          - or what do I need to change so that my life is more in line
              with the message of this book?

          - Has my thinking been consistent with what I'm reading?
          - Has my speech been consistent with what I'm reading?
          - Has my behavior been consistent with what I'm reading?
            Are the desires of my heart consistent with what I'm reading?

- the point is -- this is a very important book in the Bible -- and I
    trust we're being good stewards of what we're studying together.

- now, what we've been studying the last several weeks we've been
    referring to as the
       - "Where the Rubber Meets the Road" Verses

- in other words, if we really believe that Jesus Christ is pre-eminent
    - and that we are complete in Him...

    - how's that going to affect our marriages?
    - how's that going to affect the way we raise our children.

- last week we described it this way....

    - if you took a piece of transparency film...and wrote the words "the
        preeminence of Christ."

          - in verse 18, we laid that down over the wife and her role
               - and asked -- what does a wife look like when viewed
                  through the doctrine of the preeminence of Christ?

         - and then we've been taking that same transparency and laying
            it down over other key areas.

- in verse 19, what does a husband look like when viewed through that

- in verse 20, what does a child look like....

- in verse 21, what does a parent look like...

- now, in our verses for this morning--we're picking that transparency up
    again, and this time laying it over relationships at work...
      - this morning--the relationship between an employee and an
      - next week -- Lord willing, we'll pick it up again and place it
          over the relationship between and employer and his employees.

- with that in mind, let's read verses 22-25.  (READ)

- before we get into our actual outline, let's quickly discuss three
    introductory issues that are raised by these verses:


1. Why didn't Paul tell the slaves to revolt?

    - something we need to notice about these verses is the obvious
      absence of any command to these slaves to try to reverse the social
      policies of the day.

    - I'm not saying that slavery was pleasing to God.
       - that's why wherever Christianity has gone, slavery has
           eventually been overthrown.
       - a biblical view of man would eventually influence a culture to
           abolish slavery.
       - however, the question here wasn't - "is slavery right or wrong?"
           - the question was, how does a person who is living in a pagan
             culture, and under a pagan system--live in a way that
             pleases Christ and is therefore consistent with the doctrine
             of the preeminence of Christ.

           - Paul was much more concerned about these slaves living under
             a wicked system in a God-honoring way than he was about the
             wicked system being changed.

           - the great commission is not -- go out and change pagan
                - the great commission is -- Go out and back disciples
                  who will be different than their pagan counterparts--
                  and as a result of their changed life, unbelievers will
                  be influenced to come to Christ.

           - now there's a fundamental difference between the culture of
             Paul's day and our culture in America---that is we live in a
             democracy where every citizen has a right to speak for what
             he or she believes and therefore have an influence on
             his/her culture.
               - that’s part of what it means to be a responsible
                 citizen, and part of what it means to be salt and light
                 in our day.

- but the point is -- our fundamental responsibility as Nt believers is
   to change ourselves---not change the culture.

- I like what the pastor of one of the largest black churches in
   Indianapolis says when he is asked to get involved in an endless array
   of social causes---"the best thing I can do for the city of
   Indianapolis is lead as many of its citizens as possible to a saving
   knowledge of Jesus Christ."

- I'm not saying social causes don't have a place---but that’s what we do
   as individual citizens---not as a church.
   - the person who makes that their primary focus and ministry is off-
        - at best, they're polishing brass on a sinking ship.

- I bring that up especially because of an article in WORLD magazine
    about pastors and their reluctance to speak out about abortion.
      - this magazine is very popular -- circulation of 46,000.
      - a good magazine in a lot of ways

      - recent article -- "Silence of the Shepherds"

          - front cover -- picture of a pastor hiding under his pulpit.
              - supposedly afraid to deal with the subject because he
                wasn't preaching on it more often, organizing marches,
                pickets, etc.

          - its interesting to think about in light of the verses we're
          - you know we talk about abortion from time to time.
             - prior to the presidential elections, Pastor devoted an
                entire message to the subject.
                  - the subject comes up often in messages and lessons.

           - we've been involved in a "silent chain" over at Purdue.

           - we surely teach our members that abortion is sinful and if a
             member got an abortion and refused to repent they would be
               - so its not that we're silent on the subject

- the question is -- is that going to be our main thing?
    - is it the church's primary responsibility to change the way
       unbelievers behave?
         - the answer is -- "no"
         - that’s why this passage reads the way it does.

- incidentally - it's important, when reading about these sorts of
    contemporary issues---to ask the question, "where is the writer
    coming from eschatalogically?" (what is their view of the end times?)

    - in the case of World magazine -- that is the former Presbyterian
         - we would consider them our brothers and sisters -- but we
             differ with them on the issues of the end times.

- that’s true of a lot of folks who are writing on these issues--they have
   different views of the end times than we do.

- we don't believe that it is the church's job to usher in the millennial
     - we don't believe that society will get better and better and then
        finally Jesus will come.
     - we don't believe that all the promises of the millennial kingdom
        in the OT will find their fulfillment in the church.
- we believe that while God is calling out a people of His name, the
   culture will get worse and worse.
      - we ought to do all we can as Americans to try to stem the tide of
         evil for the sake of our children (if the Lord tarries His
          - so that we can live quiet peaceable lives and be able to
            openly propagate the gospel to the four corners of the world.

- but the reason there's no command in this passage for slaves to unite
  in some sort of rebellion is because that’s not the church's main thing.
- we would do well to be sure we're focused on the main thing.

2. Why is so much data given to this subject in Colossians?

    - isn't it surprising that in this book, there is more content
       devoted to this subject than there is to the husband/wife
         - more content than to parent/child relationship?

    - when you think about it, though, there is a definite reason why
       that is true:
         - what do we know about the context of this book that would
           explain why Paul would spend so much time on the subject of
           the relationship between slaves and their masters?

    - because this letter was carried by a man names Tycicus, who was
      also carrying another letter that is part of our NT today.
         - what letter was that?

    - Philemon, the letter about a runaway slave that Paul had met.
        - the slaves name was "Onesimus"
        - Onesimus' master turned out to be someone Paul knew:
            - what was his name? (Philemon)
            - and what church did Philemon attend? (Colossee)

        - so undoubtedly the slaves in this church had a real interest in
           how this situation was going to be handled---so it was
           necessary to have extended teaching on the subject.
             - we'll have more to say about this next week.

3. What other passages talk about this subject?

    - If you would like to do more study on what the NT says about the
      relationship between slaves/masters (or employers/employees), there
      are four other passages that especially address this subject:

         Eph. 6:5-9
         I Tim. 6:1-2
         Titus 2:9
         I Peter 2:18-25

- with that in mind, let's begin studying exactly what these verses are

I. How An Employee Should Relate To His Employer

    A. Obey him/her in all things.

        - the word "obey" is the same that is given to children in verse
        - you recall last week that we said the word literally meant "to
            hearken at the door."  - to be ready to answer and serve
- when you think about the relationship God wants you to have to your
  boss----the first word that should come to your mind is the word
     - I should be ready to hearken at the door
     - to be ready to do what he/she says.

     - when we were studying this word in relationship to children last
        week, we said---what a far cry from the relationship of most
        children to their parents in our day and age.

     - we wouldn't draw a much different conclusion when we think about
        the average relationship between a employee and an employer.

- of course, the obvious question that comes up at this point of the
   discussion is -- but what if the boss is mean, overbearing, etc?

   - the answer is -- "then just forget it!"

   - is that the answer?  - no, of course not.

       - the verse says, obey him/her in all things.

          - the emphasis of that phrase isn't "in everything he/she says"
              - because that may not always be possible (Acts 5:29 - we
                 ought to obey God rather than men)

              - the idea behind the phrase "in all things" is....
                  - in situations where you like it and ones where you
                  - when it's pleasant and when it's not

- obey in all things

- another passage that teaches the same thing is II Pter 2:18 (turn and

- let's bat this idea around for a minute.  (again, the reason these are
   such great verses is that they're not difficult to understand---this
   information is very straightforward---it's difficult to understand,
   it's just difficult to apply, and follow)

INPUT - With what kind of bosses is it especially difficult to have an
         obedient spirit?

- with all this in mind, there's probably a question we need to ask
    ourselves, isn't there?
      - how are doing in the matter of having an obedient spirit with the
         person(s) you are working for?

      - if you asked your boss to evaluate you on this issue, how do you
          think he/she would respond?

- we could add to this command the idea of:

    B. Work with a single focus

        - I'm taking that from the phrase "in singleness of heart" - KJV
            - with sincerity of heart - NASB

        - we're talking about working with a single focus.

- the verse actually helps us define this concept by telling us what
    "singleness of heart" is not.
     - INPUT - what are the contrasting statements in the verse?

           - not with external service (with eyes ervice)
           - as those who merely please men (as men pleasers)

- I like the way Jay Adams translates this part of the verse:

        - "...obey your earthly lords about everything, not only when
           they are watching you work, as people pleasers do, but
           rather, with singleness of heart, fearing the Lord.

- INPUT - what words might you use to describe a person who did not have
   a single focus as they worked...instead they only worked when the boss
   was looking, as a man pleaser?

- INPUT - what might motivate a person to behave in this way? (they are
     living for what...)

- INPUT - how will this kind of person be perceived by his co-workers?
           (would never be able to speak effectively for Christ)

             - read I Tim. 6:1-2
             - read Titus 2:9

- a good passage that describes the opposite is I Chron. 29:17 - READ

- let me ask you this morning---are you a man pleaser in the way you work?
    - do you work with one pace when the boss is present and another when
        he's not?
    - do you talk a particular way when he's there and another when he's
    - do you make use of privileges at the job differently when he's

- or, do you have a single focus that helps you work consistently whether
    the boss is there or not?
       - can you be trusted to be left alone?

- verse 23 explains what this single focus ought to be:

    C. Work heartily

        - heartily means - "from the soul"
        - with heart--put your heart into it
        - with gusto, enthusiasm

        - WHY? -- because you're working unto the Lord!

        - having a singular focus of working for Christ makes all the
           difference in the world.
             - that truth is the cornerstone of a Christian work ethic.

- testimony - working as a janitor freshman year of college

    - cleaning bathrooms

   - frustrating job:

      1) old building - hard to make them look good regardless of what
           you tried.

      2) kids messed them up -- regardless of how good they looked the
           day before -- they had to be cleaned again.

      3) had better things to do -- would loved to have been back on
           campus messing around.

           - truths like this were sustaining

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video