The Reality of Religion
Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.


1. If it could be shown that its requirements were unreal, its statements exaggerated, its views of attainment unreason. able, it would lose immensely in its character for truth and its power for good.

2. Here we may fall into opposite mistakes.

(1) We may take the sayings of Scripture strictly to the letter, set them clown as exaggerated, and above our capacities. This is the way with worldly people. They admire the gospel, but never think of realizing it. It is to them a mere night of stars to wonder and gaze at, not a sun to light them to their daily work, and warm their hearts with love.

(2) Some religious people, like the former, strain the Bible to its literal meaning, and then require that meaning in full, and thus lead to the same point, and encourage indolence and unbelief.

(3) Owing to a mixture of these we find Christian precept and practice widely sundered. And so men satisfy themselves with being Christian hearers and heathen livers, without the least suspicion of inconsistency.

3. Owing to this enormous abuses have sprung up under the shadow of the Church. A large proportion of the infidelity of the working classes is due to this unreal teaching. A strained and exaggerated view of religion has been put before them, alien from their habits of thought, and by no means supported by the example of its professors.


1. Observe the extent of this saying. It is plain that it must propose some motive and rule which shall touch daily life at every point.

(1) Nothing is more common than a man with a powerful motive which rules his whole life — gain, ambition, love of family, science, art, victory, the exercise of an energetic nature. But whatever it be, reality is its necessary condition. There are of course many visionaries, men pursuing objects which have no real existence, but to them they are not unreal.

(2) Observe how such motives act.

(a) As to their inward influence on the man himself. Are they evermore in his view and present to his thoughts? Or is not their influence for the most part rather a constraining power of which he is unconscious, rather than a stimulus carried on by conscious effort? Take a man whose motives is the advancement of himself or his family. Such an object is consciously present when he chooses to reflect on it, but day by day in the toil and struggle he is not ever thinking of it, but he is pursuing it. The labourer working under the useful light and genial warmth does not lose his time and dazzle his sight in gazing on the sun, but plies his arm with his eye fixed on his work, and so uses for its intended purpose the light God has bestowed.

(b) They are seldom loudly professed, so seldom that a man professing loudly a given motive arouses suspicion that he is acting on some other, and only using this as a blind. Here, as in nature, the deepest is the stillest; but by this very stillness all who are observant know its depth. Whatever mystery a man makes of his object in life, spectators generally arrive at correct conclusions.

2. Recur to the motive of the text.

(1) There is a wide difference between persons who pursue objects which only appear real to them, and those whose objects are absolutely real. In the case of the former pursuit will lead away from, in the case of the latter it will lead to, the truth. It is not necessary that a motive should be based on reality to be all-constraining, but it is in order that it may be a worthy motive for an intelligent being.

(2) The facts implied in the name, "The Lord Jesus," rest upon evidence as strong as can possibly be alleged for anything. The belief in Christ is not only the unavoidable conclusion of a sound mind from evidence, but the only satisfactory way to account for the state of the world in which we find ourselves.

(3) But based on reality it must also be real to me, or it cannot be my motive. It must have points of contact with every part of my life. Has it these points? Not if our Lord be a mere teacher. Mere precepts cannot touch us at all points, or constrain us to do all things in a teacher's name. But our Lord, being God, became man, bore our sins and carried our sorrows, grew up through our life, and tasted death for every man. Take any life, in any condition or time, and there is help and hope for it in Jesus.

(4) Now suppose a man embrace Jesus as his Saviour — let Christ's love become the acknowledged fact of His life, then it will become a constraining motive, and will not be contented with influencing some of his faculties, employing some of his time; from the nature of things it must have all — Christ is mine, and I am His, and whatever I do, spiritual or secular, business or recreation, I must do all in His name.

(5) There are certain solemn times when this great motive is and must be expressly recognized; but when the whole man is possessed with the love of Christ, the whole ordinary being follows the direction of the central impulse. The Christian at his daily task is not ever pondering spiritual truths. He would be a bad workman and a bad Christian if he were.

(6) Such deep constraining motive is not usually displayed before men; but its existence is not easily concealed. If a man be a Christian, men will take knowledge of him that he has been with Jesus.

(Dean Alford.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.

The Principle of a Godly Life
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