Our Guiding Principle

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 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 whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (NKJV)


It always seems that people are telling us what to do. Some people come with whole lists of what we are to do and what we are to avoid. The Scriptures themselves do the same. There are over 650 commands in the Old Testament. And I don’t know that anyone bothered to count the commands in the in the New Testament. But most of them can be reduced to what we find in the Ten Commandments. And Jesus said that to love the Lord with all we can and to love our neighbor as our self is the fulfilment of all the law.

But here Paul gives us a little different formula. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Now that is so simple that we could just say do that and close the book and go home. But last week we talked about things sometimes being abstract and hard to get hold of. Well this one might be that way for you. So what does it mean?

I.         First of all it means that all that we do ought to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ.

            A.        1 Cor. 10:31 Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God.

                        1.         This is especially true in our worship.

                        2.         Jesus is our mediator and without Him we cannot approach God.

                        3.         Without Him our worship is unacceptable to a holy God.

                        4.         So when we come here to worship, it is in His name and not our own.

                        5.         It not in the name of our parents or Baptist ancestors, regardless of how Godly they might have been.

                        6.         We are here in the Name of Jesus, else we might as well stayed at home.

                        7.         “The atoning sacrifice, the prevalent intercession of the one appointed Mediator, Christ Jesus, must be constantly before our minds in all that we attempt to do for our Lord God. Let us never forget this lest we fail utterly.” C.H. Spurgeon

            B.        In order to do that we must remove selfish motives from our lives.

            C.        We need to ask, why am I doing this?

            D.        Is for me, them or for the Lord.

            E.        I talked to my sister the other day who lives in Atlanta. She was telling me of her difficulties at where she works. She said I don’t go to work to make glue. That is what they do where she works. She said that she was their tell people about Jesus.

            F.        You can do most anything that is honest for Jesus, even make glue.

            G.        When I was going to seminary and working at Kmart, I would often get discouraged. Long days and night and a boring job didn’t help. One day a Christian ladie in our department asked me, the preacher, strait up. Who are you doing that for? Kmart first came to mind and then me and my family who had to eat next. But she pointed out the verse of or text, and I got the point.

II.        Secondly, all that we do ought to be done under His authority as our King.

            A.        That is the idea of doing something in another’s name.

                        1.         It means by their authority.

                        2.         The ambassador operates under the authority of his government.

                        3.         2 Cor 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

                        4.         If we are Christians, we are His representative, we don’t have to sign up. We did that when we became a Christian. As His ambassador we do all in His name. That is the way the world will see it. We can never take a day off.

                                    a.         That is why it is so important how we treat others.

                                    b.         We do not lay aside our kingdom when we leave this building.

                                    c.         If we go to church, and people know, don’t worry, we might as well be wearing an golden badge that says, God’s agent.

                                    d.         Poor ambassadors keep more people out of church that all the taverns in the world.

                        5.         So then it is a challenge as well as a responsibility.

            B.        2 Cor 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

                        1.         Go has enlisted us to work for Him.

                        2.         He has enlisted us to be His spokesman and women to tell the marvelous story.

                        3.         In the great commission Jesus said all authority had been given Him in heaven and earth and on that authority He sent His followers out into the world to make disciples.

III.       Thirdly we ought to do all that we say or do in His Name as our example.

            A.        The kids wear the bracelets that say WWJD.

                        1.         Boy I wish everyone who wears one of those really did ask themselves that question.

                        2.         How much heart ache and problems we would avoid if we would only do what Jesus would have done.

                        3.         Many words would go unsaid.

                        4.         Many deeds would never get out.

            B.        Jesus was never hurtful or mean.

            C.        His love and concern for even those who were the outcast of society at times even amazed His disciples.

            D.        Jesus stands as the perfect example.

            E.        If we would do all and say all in His name, as He would then we must be close to Him.

                        1.         We can never be close to someone we want to follow from far away.

                        2.         We will never see His loving words or actions unless we are close to Him.

                        3.         Come close to the Savior.

This rule is not applicable to every person here present; it can only be practiced by the regenerate. You must be in Christ before you can do anything in Christ’s name. Until your nature is renewed, until you have submitted yourselves unto the righteousness of Christ, until Christ is formed in you the hope of glory, you are not capable of walking after this high and hallowed fashion. “Ye must be born again.” The precept demanding your immediate attention is not the precept of this text but another; the words of Peter, in the Acts of the Apostles, are for you, “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost;” or this, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” You must begin at the beginning. It will but mislead you if I exhort you to walk as believers before you have received the inner life. The root must be changed before the fruit can be bettered. You need a radical change, my unconverted hearer, and you must have it or perish everlastingly.

Do not imagine that any imitation of Christian manners will save you: do not conceive that hanging upon your lifeless branches the semblance of fruits will transform you into a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. Oh! no, the sap within you must be changed, the life of God must be infused into your soul, you must be made one with Christ, or you cannot serve him. This precept, belongs, therefore, to none of you who have not believed in Christ Jesus, but it belongs to all of you, without exception, who are named by the name of Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity; to all of you who have submitted yourselves to his government, and are trusting in him for salvation. You will listen, I trust, and give earnest heed to this message from your Beloved. C.H. Spurgeon

Paul echoed the need for a thankful spirit, as he had in Col. 3:15 and 3:16. All we do for Christ should be done with the spirit of thankfulness for all he has done for us. Believers are not enslaved to rules about every word they speak or deed they do; instead, they freely put themselves under the Lord’s guidance because they love him, have accepted his salvation, and live to glorify him. Their thanks can go to God through Christ because Christ is the only mediator between God and people.

Honor and Glory

As a Christian, you represent Christ at all times—wherever you go and with whatever you say. Believers can go about their lives—working, playing, studying, planning—and do everything to the glory of God with thanks in their hearts. What impression do people have of Christ when they see or talk with you? What changes would you make in your life in order to honor Christ? LAB Commentary

The Name of Christ

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (3:17)

The simplest, most basic rule of thumb for living the Christian life is to do everything, whether word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus. To do everything in the name of Jesus is to act consistently with who He is and what He wants. Paul expressed the same thought in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Again, Paul reminds that it is always to be done without reluctance or despair or legalistic duty, but with giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

To put on the new lifestyle is to put on Christ. That is the obligation of every believer: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Rom. 13:14). The goal of the Christian life is Christlikeness.

Guy H. King relates the following story:

Years ago I was leading the Children’s Special Service Mission at one of our South Coast holiday resorts. As I was approaching the beach one morning, this little fellow was going along there, too. As he caught sight of me, he said, “Mummie, here comes the JESUS man.” He only meant that I was the man who spoke to the children about the Saviour; but his remark meant far more to my heart that day. What right had I—have I—to be called a JESUS man? What degree of resemblance is there about us?

I wonder if you have read that moving story of Jerome K. Jerome’s called The Passing of the Third Floor Back? Roughly, the tale is of a poor-class lodging house, where lived a heterogeneous company of needy and seedy folk, and where there was a poor, ignorant little servant-girl, a good deal of a slut, and ready to sell her virtue for a worthless trinket. Into the place there came one day a lodger who at once seemed to be different, and who occupied the third floor back. He quickly revealed himself to have a very kind heart and way. He always had a kindly word for the little slavey, usually so ignored and down-trodden. She almost worshipped him. The other lodgers, too, owed him much for his many deeds of helpfulness. He was always doing something for somebody, in his kindly, sympathetic way. At last the day came for him to move elsewhere. The little maid watched him, open-eyed, as he walked with his bit of luggage to the front door; and as he turned to her with a smile and a gentle pat on the shoulder, she took her leave of him with the words, “Please, are you ’Im?” (Crossing the Border [Fort Washington, Pa.: Christian Literature Crusade, 1974], pp. 92-93)

Believers should so clothe themselves with Jesus Christ that when people look at them, they see Christ. MacArthur

3:17 Here Paul gives us a kind of summary. There are various ways of interpreting “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Some understand the meaning to be that everything a Christian does is to be undertaken in dependence on the Lord (cf. Moff.). Others think it means that everything a Christian does is to be done in recognition of the authority of Jesus’ name. Still others take “in the name of the Lord Jesus” to mean “as followers of the Lord Jesus” (cf. Am. Transl.). This last interpretation reflects the thought that to act in the name of a person is to act as his representative. The last two interpretations are both acceptable, but the third is the preferred. Bruce appropriately points out that “the NT does not contain a detailed code of rules for the Christian .... Codes of rules, as Paul explains elsewhere, are suited to the period of immaturity when he and his readers were still under guardians.... What the NT does provide is those basic principles of Christian living which may be applied to all situations of life as they arise” (p. 285). The words under consideration enunciate such a principle. Maclaren writes that the name of Christ “hallows and ennobles all work. Nothing can be so small but this will make it great, nor so monotonous and tame but this will make it beautiful and fresh” (p. 333).

“Giving thanks” points to an essential accompaniment of acting in the name of the Lord Jesus—viz., that in everything we do we are to retain a sense of God’s goodness and are to be careful to thank him. Expositors Commentary