Grace Family Bible Church

Let the Word dwell in you

By: Scott Morton


Colossians 3:16-17

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. [17] And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.


As the Apostle Paul speaks to the local assembly here in Colossae, he is continuing the discussion of how it is a member of the Body of Christ should be living their life. This is caused by the believer following the doctrine which has been given to us in Romans through Philemon. This is the only way we can live the life which is intended for us.


The Apostle Paul describes this here as the issue of letting the Word of Christ dwell in us. We do this through our intake of the Word of God rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15) and this is something which we will see Paul tells us about continually throughout his epistles. We can also see how there is another term which is used to describe this, which tends to cause confusion for many people today:


Ephesians 5:18-19

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; [19] Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;


In this similar passage we see how there is the phrase used to be filled with the Spirit, which leads to the things which are said in Colossians as well. This is a term that many in Christianity today have taken and given a completely different meaning to it from what the Word of God is saying. This is used to try to explain individuals demonstrating the sign gifts, which are not for today (having been done away with because we have a completed Word of God- 1 Corinthians 13). They start speaking of how they can feel the Spirit coming upon them and then the 'gifts' start coming out at that point. This completely goes against the Word of God for today and is not being filled with the Spirit.


Today there are many individuals who, while thinking they are honoring God, have a mistaken notion of what being filled with the Spirit actually means. One of these thoughts is that this is an issue of the prayer life of the individual. They take this as a method of being able to use prayer to attempt to command God to do things for them because they have 'the power of the Spirit' in them. This leads to a lot of disappointment from them when their prayers are not being answered in the manner in which they think they should be.


Another way this is looked at is being associated with the baptism of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:13. This baptism is something which immediately happens to the individual who believes the gospel laid out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. There is nothing which happens with this baptism that indicates the change. The believer does not notice this has happened and only knows this is the reality because the Word of God tells us this is the case.


Some would take this as the indwelling of the Spirit which we understand from 1 Corinthians 6:19. This is something which is true of all believers. The Apostle Paul would not have to speak to individuals about being filled with the Spirit in this manner. Once an individual has believed the gospel this is true of them and there is nothing that can be done to take away the salvation we have or to not have this be the reality of the individual.


Another thought is this is some sort of a possession happening where the Spirit is going to take over the believer. This is used to try to justify the behavior which individuals do claiming it is the Spirit working in them causing it. This is often the only way these individuals will claim the Spirit is working, as they are looking at passages such as this:


Romans 8:9

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.


The issue of being filled with the Spirit speaks of what has a level of influence or control over the life of the individual. This is not what the Apostle Paul is speaking about in this passage. The issue here is dwelling, which is important for a believer. Because the Spirit is in us (acting as the seal) we are kept in the Body. It has nothing to do with an issue of possession.


Lastly there is an issue of the filling of the Spirit demonstrating the sign gifts:


Acts 2:1-4

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.


This is used to try to show how the sign gifts would be working in the life of an individual. This failure to rightly divide the Word of truth attempts to being in the signs of Israel into having an impact today. The Apostle Paul spends multiple chapters in 1 Corinthians speaking about how the sign gifts were only going to be ending, as was discussed above.


This can unfortunately lead to individuals wanting to have nothing to do with the truth, as they leave when they do not see the signs being demonstrated, as they feel these have to be there. The emotionalism and sensationalism of these things has clouded the ability of the individual to clearly see what it is the Word is actually saying for today.


We can see from a few passages how there are some things which can control the life of an individual:


John 16:6

But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.


Luke 4:28

And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,


Luke 5:26

And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.


These three passages from the gospel accounts show how there are emotions which can fill and have an influence on individuals. As a result of these emotions, the individuals are going to react in a manner which appears from the world to be consistent and justified based on the emotion. Believers need to be very careful about what they are allowing to have an influence on their life.


This is why the Apostle Paul speaks of the issue of being drunk with wine in the contrast in Ephesians 5. When an individual is drunk with wine, the wine is having the influence or control over the decisions the individual is making, which tends to lead to bad decisions and the individual having to deal with the consequences of the bad decisions.


A believer should have the Spirit providing the guidance in this area. This is what the Apostle Paul is speaking of and how he can speak of this in the book of Colossians as the Word dwelling in us. It is the Word which is going to create the influence in our lives as we take it in.


1 Thessalonians 2:13

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.


This passage shows an example the Apostle Paul is holding up. The individuals in Thessalonica were allowing the Word to work in them in this manner. They did not take the things which were being taught simply as the words of men or a philosophy. They understood this was the Word of God which was being given to them and treated it as such. They were allowing this to have a true impact on their lives. This is what we should be attaining to in our lives.


Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


Here we have Paul showing the difference between the things of the world and the things of the Word. We are to not let the things of this world have an influence on who we are and how we live our lives. It is very easy for individuals to let the things of this world have an influence on them. These are the things which are controlled by Satan (the prince of the power of the air). Some of these things on the surface seem to not be too big of a deal. The problem is when the focus of the individual is primarily on these things, spending more and more of their time dealing with them or focused on these things. When this occurs, it means there is less time to be spent on the Word of God.


This does not mean we are to be completely ignoring the things of this world. We are living in this world right now and do need to have some idea of what is going on if we are going to live our lives. It also helps to have some understanding for when we are speaking with the lost, as these things can allow for the door of utterance to be opened and the ability to share the gospel with those who need salvation. We need to make sure we are not allowing the focus to become primarily or too much on the things of this world and have us be pulled away from the Word.


2 Timothy 1:13-14

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [14] That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.


This is why we see the words of encouragement which are written here in the last epistle the Apostle Paul wrote. We need to be holding fast to the things of the Word of God. This means we are securely holding onto and are focused on the Word of God to have influence over our lives. This is what the Apostle Paul was committing unto Timothy and all of the members of the Body of Christ.


The Word is the only way we are going to learn the things God wants us to know. This is why we can see the understanding of how we have the spiritual growth which is intended for us from the following passage:


1 Corinthians 2:11-15

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. [15] But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.


This goes against everything which man would consider to be the process. Man thinks it is all on himself to be able to learn things and to use the intelligence and wisdom which comes from the things of man. If this is only way an individual could try to learn the things of the Word of God it would lead to failure. The natural man cannot understand the Word. This is often the reason why individuals think the Bible is confusing or contradictory, as they do not have the ability to understand what is being said.


It takes the Spirit being inside of an individual to be able to understand what is being said and to allow the Word to take root in the believer. The Spirit is inside an individual once they put their trust in the gospel for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is why the Will of God starts with individuals being saved before they come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). It has to be in this order for the Spirit to work.


This is why we see the starting point is with all wisdom. This is a confusing phrase for some, as there have been thoughts on what they feel wisdom actually means. The following definition of wisdom comes from Webster's 1828 Dictionary:




1. The right use or exercise of knowledge; the choice of laudable ends, and of the best means to accomplish them. This is wisdom in act, effect, or practice. If wisdom is to be considered as a faculty of the mind, it is the faculty of discerning or judging what is most just, proper and useful, and if it is to be considered as an acquirement, it is the knowledge and use of what is best, most just, most proper, most conducive to prosperity or happiness. Wisdom in the first sense, or practical wisdom, is nearly synonymous with discretion. I differs somewhat from prudence, in this respect; prudence is the exercise of sound judgment in avoiding evils; wisdom is the exercise of sound judgment either in avoiding evils or attempting good. Prudence then is a species, of which wisdom is the genus.


Wisdom gained by experience, is of inestimable value.


It is hoped that our rulers will act with dignity and wisdom; that they will yield every thing to reason, and refuse every thing to force.


2. In Scripture, human learning; erudition; knowledge of arts and sciences.


Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. Acts 7.


3. Quickness of intellect; readiness of apprehension; dexterity in execution; as the wisdom of Bezaleel and Aholiab. Exo 31.


4. Natural instinct and sagacity. Job 39.


5. In Scripture theology, wisdom is true religion; godliness; piety; the knowledge and fear of God, and sincere and uniform obedience to his commands. This is the wisdom which is from above. Psa 90. Job 28.


6. Profitable words or doctrine. Psa 37.


The wisdom of this world, mere human erudition; or the carnal policy of men, their craft and artifices in promoting their temporal interests; called also fleshly wisdom. 1 Cor 2. 2 Cor 1.


The wisdom of words, artificial or affected eloquence; or learning displayed in teaching. 1 Cor 1 and 2.


We see from these definitions the issue of wisdom comes down to the application of the knowledge which someone has gained. We are to be taking in the Word of God on a regular basis in order to build up an understanding of what God intends during this dispensation. As we apply 2 Timothy 2:15 to our study of the Word, the information starts to be built up and the Spirit helps to put the pieces together in a way that we can understand.


This is why we see the Apostle Paul pray over and over for them to have an increase in their wisdom:


Ephesians 1:16-17

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; [17] That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:


This was just one example of the prayers being offered up by Paul. He knows if a member of the Body of Christ is going to live the life intended, they are going to need to have this increase in knowledge.


There is a definite contrast between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man. There also is a contrast between the things which God knows and what Satan knows:


1 Corinthians 2:6-8

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: [8] Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.


We know from looking at the creation of Satan how he had been given the wisdom of the things which had been revealed. He knew everything of Israel's program and continuously opposed the things which were being done. This is where the course of the world had come in. Satan did not know the things of the mystery program (the current dispensation) until they were revealed to the Apostle Paul and he started to teach these things. The reason is Satan would have been opposing this before it occurred and would have done everything he could have to stop the cross, which is what took care of sin.


Satan continues to oppose the things of God. This is why we are told to avoid the things of this world, as this is what Satan controls. He has set up systems to get people to stay away from the Word of God and it is easy for individuals to fall into this trap. It is why we need to let the Word of God dwell in us.


As Paul continues, he mentions the issue of teaching and admonishing. When Paul mentioned this to the assembly in Ephesus, he speaks of it being a speaking to yourself (Ephesians 5:19). To the local assembly in Colossae we see that it has spread from just the self to dealing with others. This is showing the responsibility we have to make all men see (Ephesians 3:8-9). There is a pattern we see from the Apostle Paul recorded in the book of Acts:


Acts 14:21-23

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, [22] Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. [23] And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.


Here we see what they did in every city they went to. The first step was to preach the gospel (Evangelize) to make sure they could have as many people saved as they could. The next steps were to confirm the souls (Edification) and exhorting to continue (Exhortation) so they would be getting closer to the coming unto the knowledge of the truth which is intended for believers. Once this was done they ordained elders (Eldership) so they could make sure this process would continue in the city before they left. This was the proper set up for a local assembly and this is what they were making sure they modeled and had in place before they left.


We do see the issue of singing being an important part in the life of a believer. We see this issue throughout the Bible, as there are things said about singing:


Ezekiel 28:11-14

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, [12] Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. [13] Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. [14] Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.


Job 38:1-7

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, [2] Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? [3] Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? [6] Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; [7] When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?


These two passages show how music was at the very beginning. This is supposed to be part of the praise and honor of God. Satan was initially created to lead the angelic realm in this, showing the reason why he had an orchestra built into him.


1 Chronicles 23:1-5

So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel. [2] And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites. [3] Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand. [4] Of which, twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the LORD; and six thousand were officers and judges: [5] Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.


1 Chronicles 13:1-8

And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. [2] And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the LORD our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: [3] And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. [4] And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. [5] So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjathjearim. [6] And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it. [7] And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. [8] And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.


These two passages show how this carried over with Israel. David had music associated with the priesthood when he was numbering the priests. We also see David leading the music in this worship of God that was going on. This was considered to be honorable to God, as He speaks of how David did everything pleasing unto God, except for the issues with Uriah and Bathsheba.


Acts 16:22-25

And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. [23] And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: [24] Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. [25] And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.


This is a little harder for many people. We see the Apostle Paul in a prison cell after he had been beaten for preaching the message given to him. Things were not going well for him according to the standard man has. However, we see Paul singing praises unto God, even in these circumstances. Many people would want to just be focused on themselves and the bad situation they were in, but Paul could only focus on the things of God and the glory which comes from what has been done for us.


The question we have to ask is how do we get to the place where this could be true of us:


1 Corinthians 14:15

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.


What Paul was doing reflected the doctrine which had been built up in him that the grace of God taught him (Titus 2:11-13). Since he understood everything which had been given to him, he knew the circumstances were only temporary and that it was going to be reflected in the glory which will come when he is in the heavenly places with the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity.


This passage also shows us another important aspect related to singing. The singing we do should reflect the understanding we have. Many of the songs typically sung do not really reflect the thought process given to us in Romans through Philemon. There are some good phrases in these songs, but they also often contain things which would be reflective of the kingdom program and what God was doing with Israel.


This does not mean we should not be singing, as we have already established the issue of singing being something God would have us to do. We need to be careful in what we are singing in order to actually do what Paul is saying here, which is there is to be teaching coming through the singing. The teaching can only occur if the doctrine lines up with what is actually going on in the dispensation of grace. It is okay to make changes in songs to reflect the correct doctrine. There are some who are already doing things of this nature and it is a good thing for the edification of the body.


Paul does bring up three different types of the music here:


Psalms: comes from the Greek work psalmos and is reflective of a sacred ode usually in reference to a book held in high reverence (the Word)


Hymns: comes from the Greek word humnos and is a religious ode or song of praise


Spiritual songs: comes from the Greek word ode and is a religious metrical composition, a song of praise.


The issue of singing was not only part of the proper worship of God, but was also used by Satan to counterfeit what God was doing. We can see this from the following example:


Exodus 32:15-25

And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. [16] And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. [17] And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. [18] And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. [19] And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. [20] And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. [21] And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? [22] And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. [23] For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. [24] And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. [25] And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)


Here we see the first recorded failure of Israel related to the law, which they had agreed to perform all of it in Exodus 19 without having received it. They had set up a worship system for this golden calf, which included singing. This shows how they understood this to be part of a proper worship.


A final note about music is there needs to be balance. While this should be part of the worship, the focus is to be on the Word and what it says for us. This is how we have the edification process accomplished and we start to have the foundation of the doctrine built up in us.


The last thing Paul mentions here in this section is the issue of giving thanks to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is part of what we are to be doing as the members of the Body of Christ:


1 Thessalonians 5:18

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.


We see from this passage that we are to be thankful in everything going on. This is easy for us to do when things are going well in our lives. It is not as easy when things are not going well and we are facing some sort of problem. This passage is saying we are to have the thankfulness at all times. We can see from Israel's history how easy it was for them when they were doing right and God was blessing them.


Exodus 15:1-5

Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. [2] The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. [3] The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. [4] Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. [5] The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.


The entire chapter records a song of praise and thanksgiving for the deliverance they had just received from their enemies. This was easy, as they had just witnessed God destroying the Egyptian army protecting them and demonstrating to all of the other nations the power of God and the protection which would be provided to Israel.


The Lord Jesus Christ is going to demonstrate to the nation how to be thankful even when things were not going well:


John 11:39-41

Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. [40] Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? [41] Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.


This is a much harder thing to do. It is not easy to be thankful when you are in the middle of a tough situation. God intends for us to be thankful even when times are tough, as we can be thankful for everything that has been accomplished for us, as Israel was to have been thankful for all of the promises which had been given unto them.


When we get to the doctrine for us in Paul's epistles, we see how he starts his epistles with a discussion about the condition of man and what happened when the thankfulness was gone:


Romans 1:18-23

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.


We see from this passage how there is a process going on where individuals start becoming unthankful and are relying just on themselves. This leads to them getting farther and farther away from God, as they are changing their viewpoint and worship of God unto other things. This is where we see most of the world today.


Paul expressed his thankfulness many times throughout his epistles, demonstrating what we should do. There are multiple places where he displays this for other individuals specifically (Romans 16:3-4, Philemon 4 are examples) or for all of mankind in general (1 Timothy 2:1). He also expressed this many times towards God (1 Timothy 1:12 is an example). We should make sure we are following the example of our Apostle and demonstrating this same thankfulness.