Colossians 3:16a

Indwelt by the Word of Christ




1. The genitive form of Christ can be legitimately understood in one of two possible senses:

a. Either subjective (the word spoken or delivered by Christ).

b. Or objective (the word which is about Christ).

2. Both are true… both make sense grammatically and contextually.

a. I lean towards the objective (the word ABOUT Christ).

b. Reason: Normally, when the author means the BIBLE, “the word delivered by God” or “God’s Word”… it appears as God’s Word or the Word of God.

c. This is the only time in the New Testament where we find this expression, “the word of Christ.”

d. The fact that he uses a different expression seems to indicate a different purpose or emphasis.

e. It is a unique expression found only here, and seems best to underscore Paul’s overall thesis in the book: that in all things, CHRIST should have the preeminence!

f. The objective use of similar phrases is common in the Bible:
• The word of His grace (word about grace; characterized by grace).
• The word of truth (about the truth).
• The word of life (the word that is characterized by life).
• The word of righteousness…
• The Word of exhortation…
• The word of prophecy…

3. The Person of Christ is the THEME of the book of Colossians.

a. Col. 1:4 – their faith was in Christ.

b. Col.1:14 – in Him we have redemption – He is redeemer.

c. Col.1:15: He is the image of the invisible God.

d. Col.1:16 – He is Creator.

e. Col.1:17 – By Him all things consist.

f. Col. 1:18 – He is the Head of the Body; He is to have the preeminence in all things.

g. Col. 1:19 – in Him all fullness dwells.

h. Col.1:20-22 – He is the Reconciler of all things.

i. Col. 1:24 – we suffer for His name’s sake.

j. Col.1:26-27 – His indwelling presence is the glory of this age.

k. Col.1:28 – The knowledge of Christ is the content of apostolic teaching.

l. And that’s just chapter one!

m. Clearly, the book of Colossians is the Word OF Christ in the sense that it is all ABOUT Christ.

4. But it is also fair to say that Christ is the theme of OTHER books of the Bible too.

a. Revelation 1:1 – the prophecies in the book of Revelation are defined as: “The revelation of Jesus Christ.”

b. Revelation 19:10 – the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

c. John 5:46 – the Pentateuch is about Christ. ?“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.”

d. Acts 10:43 – Christ was the theme of ALL of the Prophets. Major and minor: “To him give all the prophet witness…”

e. Luke 22:43 – the Law, the prophets and the Psalms are about Christ. (Poetic portions.)

f. Luke 24:27 – ALL of the Scriptures bear witness of Him: ?And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

g. Christ is the THEME of the Bible. The Bible is not just about how to be saved, or what’s going to happen in the future, or a history of Israel.

5. The Word of Christ is God’s Word the Bible… and this Book is all about Christ!

a. It is the Word of Christ… God’s Message about His Beloved Son… who He is… what He has done… His soon return… His enthronement in heaven… His indwelling presence in us!!!

b. The false teachers in Colossae came with a blend of Jewish traditions, Greek philosophies, rudiments of the world, meats, drinks, holy days, new moons and Sabbaths, etc. (2:16).

c. Their word exalted human traditions, humanistic philosophies, and rudiments of the world—earthly entirely.

d. Paul commands the believers there to put all that aside, and to let the Word which is all about Christ, our Heavenly High Priest, dwell in their hearts!

e. As we read the Word of God, we should see the glory of Christ! (II Cor. 3:18).
• HIS glory found in the pages of this book.
• As we BEHOLD His glory in the Word, (mirror) we are transformed into that SAME image.
• What image? The image of Christ is the SAME image we behold in the Word… the mirror.
• We are transformed into the same image of Christ which we see in the Word.
• The Bible, God’s Holy Word, in which we, when illuminated by the Holy Spirit, can BEHOLD the glory of Jesus Christ!
• This book is about Him. Whether we are reading in Colossians or Leviticus, we are learning about Him… His holiness, His grace, His character…

6. The word of Christ is God’s revelation of His Beloved Son!

a. He is the living Word… this book is the written Word.

b. They both have the same name (Logos) and the same character (holy)!

c. As we read the written Word, we learn of the Living Word.

d. As we read this book, we are beholding HIS glory!

e. In fact, there is no way to KNOW Christ apart from the revelation of Christ in the Word of Christ.

f. Christ dwells in us; His Word is to abide in us too… richly!

g. In this way, the indwelling Christ and the indwelling Word of Christ become deeply entrenched in our minds and hearts… and become a permanent part of our lives.

h. It becomes second nature to think on things above…

i. Thoughts of Christ should fill our mind so that it can be said that we have the mind of Christ.

j. Christlike qualities will then flow out of us naturally.

k. It isn’t strained or forced… just like the juices flowing from a vine to a branch. Nothing could be more simple and natural… when the Word of Christ is dwelling in our hearts.


1. Dwell:

a. Strong’s; to dwell in one and influence him;

b. Zodhiates: inhabit.

c. It is a verb form of the word for house or home; hence, to be at home in…

d. It implies a level of comfort… to be at home…

2. There is a big difference between being present and dwelling.

a. Consider the difference between the presence and dwelling of Christ in our hearts.
• Col. 1:27 states that Christ is IN us all as believers.
• Eph. 3:17 – he DWELLS in our hearts by FAITH.
• In other words, Christ is present in the believer at all times… even if we sin.
• But only as we walk by faith, does He feel at home… is He comfortable…

b. I am perfectly comfortable when I am at home… in my own house.
• But, I have been present in places where I was not welcome. (honkee go home!) I was present, but certainly did not feel at home!
• It is a most uncomfortable feeling.

c. The word of Christ should be more than just present in us. It should be “at home” in our hearts…
• It is not enough to have it memorized in our minds. It needs to be dwelling in the heart.
• The human brain is capable of memorizing, perhaps the whole New Testament.
• But that does not guarantee that the word of Christ memorized is at home in the heart.

3. Christ is not at home in a heart where the world has preeminence.

a. The world hates Christ! The world crucified Him! Friendship with the world system is enmity with God.

b. These are two different ways of thinking… and are utterly incompatible. They cannot dwell together in the same heart (mind of Christ and thinking of the world).

c. The heart in which the lust of the flesh is present cannot be a heart in which the Word of Christ is comfortably residing. There is no compatibility.

d. The heart in which the lust of the eyes is present is also uncomfortable for the Word of Christ. (I want this; I want that)…

e. The heart in which the pride of life dwells (me first; self will; self centered; vanity; cannot possibly be a comfortable place for the Word of Christ… the message of the One who was selfless… marked by humility…

f. The heart in which the philosophies of the world reside cannot be a comfortable dwelling place for the Word of Christ. (Me first; live for today; this life is all there is; happiness comes through getting; etc.)

g. There is no concord… no agreement between the word of Christ and idols or sin… the word of Christ and the world which crucified Him…

h. This is spiritual adultery. Affection that belongs to Christ is given to another.

i. It is tantamount to an unfaithful wife who has a lover, which is bad enough by itself.
• But this unfaithful wife brings her lover home to live in the same house with her husband!
• That husband may be present in that house, but he certainly won’t feel at home… it is an excruciatingly UNCOMFORTABLE feeling.

j. When our heart is drawn away to the things of this world system, we do the same to Christ and His Word spiritually, as this woman did to her husband.

k. The heart characterized by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is a heart in which there is no love of God… a heart in which Christ and His Word, though present, are bound, gagged, and cast into a dank, dark, dingy, corner of the heart, suffering quietly… broken hearted… rejected… in His own house!

l. He is present in that heart, but not at home.

m. The Word, the revelation of the Person of Christ cannot possibly DWELL in the heart where the things of the world are dwelling.

n. However, only God knows all this. That same believer who has bound and gagged the Word of Christ in his heart, can come to church, all dressed up, smiling, and talking a good talk before men. No one would ever know… but God knows our hearts. There is no fooling Him.

4. Christ and the revelation of Christ are not at home in the heart where SELF reigns.

a. There is only room for one head on a body.

b. There is only room for one Lord in a heart.

c. Christ tolerates no rivals… whether from the world without or self within.

d. Either He is given preeminence as LORD or not.

e. The word (which is all about Christ the Lord) cannot possibly be dwelling in a heart where Christ is not “seated on the throne.”

f. The Word of Christ tells us WHO HE IS… LORD… absolute sovereign… Head of the Body… Lord of our lives.

g. The Word of Christ is a revelation of the One whose greatest desire in His earthly life was to be in absolute submission to the will of His Father… even if it meant the cruel death of the cross.

h. The word of Christ REVEALS Christ… the One who said, “Not my will but thine be done!” The One who made Himself of no reputation and became a servant of men. The One who invites us to take on His yoke… in absolute surrender to Him… and to His will.

i. How can THIS revelation be “at home” in a heart, where SELF WILL reigns?

j. It is either/or. It is one or the other.

k. But aren’t we all masters of the subtle art of deception? Haven’t we all learned to PRETEND that Christ and His Word DWELL richly in our hearts, when in fact, SELF WILL dwells richly, and Christ and His word have a rather meager and paltry existence there?

5. But we are told… commanded to LET it dwell in our hearts!

a. Christ and the Word about Christ CANNOT dwell richly in a heart cluttered with earthly junk.

b. This means some house cleaning needs to be done in our hearts.

c. If the word of Christ… and the Christ of the Word are to be comfortable in our hearts, then some of the trash that has heretofore been tolerated needs to go… now!

d. Flesh and self will prevents the Word of Christ from dwelling richly in our hearts.

e. Worldly philosophies prevent the Word of Christ from richly dwelling in our hearts.

f. For the Word of Christ to dwell richly in our hearts as we are COMMANDED… there must be a dead reckoning!
• Reckon ourselves to be DEAD to sin and self… we died with Christ!
• Reckon ourselves to be DEAD to the world… the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.
• It is BY FAITH that we reckon… and it is by faith that Christ and His word dwell in our hearts.

g. And only as we are made conformable to His DEATH are we able to experience a RICH knowledge of Christ! (Phil. 3:10)

h. The RICH dwelling of His Word in our hearts, and the RICH and deep knowledge of the glorious person of Christ are ours ONLY as we reckon self to be dead… willing to suffer for Christ’s sake… willing to be made conformable to His death… absolute surrender to God’s Will as revealed in the word!

i. Do we really think for one second that God will enable us to have a deep and rich KNOWLEDGE of His Beloved Son, when we are holding back in our hearts… unwilling to submit to His will? Do you think He doesn’t know?

j. God does not make known His will to us nor does He make known His Son to us, until our hearts are WILLING to DO His will… surrendered.

k. Why SHOULD He? He knows our hearts.

l. And to MAINTAIN this abiding relationship between the indwelling Word and our hearts it is necessary for us to be FAITHFUL in spending TIME in the Word every day… meditating… mulling it over… practicing… filling our mind and heart with Christ and His Word… saturating our minds…

6. John 15:7 – if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you…

a. Here Jesus makes a marvelous promise. He will grant ANY request we bring to Him under the following conditions:
• We are abiding in Him.
• His Word is abiding (same concept as dwelling) in us. (The Word which is all about Christ)

b. Under those conditions, God will do whatever we ask!
• This IS a blank check. This is a powerful promise!
• It is a blank check to ask whatever we WILL.
• The difference is that under these conditions, our will is equal to His will! And God answers every prayer according to His will.
• Prayer is as much about aligning our hearts to His Word and His will… as it is about making requests for other things.
• When a branch is abiding in the Vine, and the life and character of the Vine is flowing through the branch, and the Word of Christ… a revelation of His WILL is hunkered deep down in our hearts…
• Then this believer’s greatest goal will be to bear fruit unto the glory of God… his attitude will be, “Not my will but Thine be done.” Self is put aside… kept on the cross… and Christ will manifest Himself and His will THROUGH that yielded believer…
• Under those conditions, whatever we ask, God will respond in a positive way… and we will be genuinely pleased… because His will is done!
• This is the life of true satisfaction… to be happy in Jesus is to trust and obey!
• A life that is deep, meaningful, and rich in the knowledge of Christ is one that fully surrendered… where the Word of Christ digs down deep… dwells richly in our hearts.

c. Jesus is NOT promising to answer any prayer that emanates from a heart where self-will reigns.
• This is a promise for the heart where the Word of Christ dwells richly… where Christ is abiding consistently and comfortably… and is at home…
• Why would God ever want to answer a prayer where self will reigns? Self will is the essence of sin! Where worldly interests reign? Where worldly philosophies reign?
• God’s answers prayer to promote HIS own glory… and to carry out His own will… not to make carnal believers temporarily happy…
• Prayer is much more about getting our hearts in tune with Christ and HIS will, as it is about TELLING God what to do to gratify our selfish desires.
• But when we get self and self-will out of the way—through the cross—reckoning self to be dead…
• THEN our will will be in tune with—will be DOMINATED by—the word which is all about Christ.
• Doing HIS will BECOMES our most glorious ambition! It is our delight… what we truly desire.

7. I John 2:14 – the heart in which the Word is abiding is a heart of VICTORY.

a. There is a most important connection between being (a) strong, (b) having the word abiding in us, and (c) a victorious life. They are links in a chain.

b. In fact, there is no spiritual strength apart from the Word abiding and dwelling richly in our hearts.

c. There is no victory apart from the Word abiding and dwelling richly in our hearts.

d. Apart from the Word of Christ, we are absolutely defenseless against the powers of darkness; against the world system; against our adversary the devil; and against self… the flesh within.

e. Jesus was tempted of the devil. With each temptation there was an IMMEDIATE response from God’s Word.
• It just flowed from His lips.
• Jesus didn’t stumble, falter, sputter, or hesitate.
• The WORD was His instantaneous response… it was second nature for Him.

f. That was because as the perfect Man, the word of Christ dwelt RICHLY in His heart.
• In the midst of the deepest, darkest, and most evil temptation the Devil ever cast at any man, the Lord Jesus was not shaken or moved.
• The word dwelt richly in His heart to the point of saturation…
• It is written. He knew what was written and He TRUSTED in it. It was deeply embedded in His heart.
• The devil fled away. He knew he had no chance of defeating a human being in whose heart the Word of God dwelt richly… a man who knew the Word and trusted in it.
• The shield of faith (trust in God and His word) quenches ALL the fiery darts of the wicked one.

g. John wrote to the young men and reminded them that they were strong because the word of God continually abides in them… and that they have overcome (conquered; victory over) the wicked one!
• Jesus defeated Satan on the cross. (Col. 2:15) He triumphed over all the powers of darkness.
• The word of Christ reveals to us the Person and the finished WORK of Jesus Christ.
• The word reveals to us that Satan is a defeated foe.
• As we TRUST IN the word of Christ which dwells richly in our hearts, that victory is experienced in our lives!
• And not only has Christ defeated Satan, He has defeated all our other foes as well!
• Rom. 8:3 – on the cross Christ condemned SIN (nature).
• Gal. 6:14 – on the cross, Christ defeated the world system.
• Col. 2:15 – on the cross Christ defeated the devil.
• We are MORE than conquerors in Him.
• When we KNOW the word of Christ and TRUST in it, victory is assured.
• The devil sought to destroy the young men by devouring them. However, he was unsuccessful because they were strong… because the Word of God was ABIDING in them.
• They KNEW it. They TRUSTED it. And they were victorious.
• This can be OUR testimony too!

8. There is a direct connection between the outward behavior and the inward condition of the heart.

a. On the outside, we are to be robed in Christlike virtues.

b. On the inside, the Word of Christ should be dwelling.

c. From that inner, rich dwelling of the WORD of Christ emanates outer character, manifesting the LIFE of Christ.

d. When the Word of Christ dwells richly in the heart, it has a transforming effect… a life changing influence… and thus, the LIFE of Christ is manifested outwardly.

e. The inward, rich, constant dwelling of the Word of Christ CHANGES the way we think… which changes the way we walk… as a man thinketh, so is he!

f. The rich indwelling of the Word TRANSFORMS our lives into the image of Christ. It always happens that way… never fails.

g. But, Christ will NEVER be seen in the life of a believer when the Word of Christ is not dwelling richly in his heart.

h. Whatever is dwelling richly on the inside will be manifested on the outside… whether the world, the flesh, self… OR Christ and the revelation about Christ.

i. Outward behavior is a reflection of what is transpiring on the inside… in the heart… a reflection of who or what is reigning… who or what is dwelling comfortably in the heart.

9. Where the Word of Christ dwells richly in the heart, Christ has preeminence in that LIFE.

a. There is a direct connection between the rich dwelling of the Word of Christ and the preeminence of the Christ of the Word.

b. Col. 1:18 – Christ is to have preeminence in ALL THINGS.

c. As a holy priesthood, as living sacrifices, there is not division between sacred and secular in our hearts.

d. There is to be no remote corner in our individual hearts either, whether Christ is not preeminent. ALL things!

e. This can ONLY be true in the life of a believer where the WORD about Christ dwells in the heart richly… for out of the heart are ALL the issues of life.

f. The rich dwelling of the word in the heart will issue forth into EVERY nook and cranny of one’s life…

g. And if the Word shines its light into a cranny of our heart where something other than Christ has preeminence, if the Word is dwelling RICHLY in that life, we will submit to the Word… sweep out the old, clean house, and LET the Word of Christ dwell richly in that corner of the heart too!

h. That is a life where Christ truly has preeminence. We cannot separate the Word of Christ from Christ… the written Word and the Living Word.