The Things Above
Colossians 3:1-4 ESV
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
In order for us to be raised with Christ to newness of life in him, we have to first of all die with him to sin and self. For, Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness.
When we are born again of the Spirit of God, we are created in him to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has passed, the new has come. Our new lives in Christ Jesus should not look like our old lives in the flesh. For, Jesus delivered us out of slavery to sin, and he freed us to now walk in his righteousness and holiness; to live godly lives, pleasing to him.
So, as new creatures in Christ Jesus, free from bondage to sin, our focus in this life should be on our Lord, on following him wherever he leads us, and on being his servants and witnesses in advancing the kingdom of heaven. Our focus should no longer be on pleasing ourselves, but our desire should be for our Lord, to please him in every way. For, he died on that cross that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Therefore, we are to honor God in all that we do and say.
Put to Death
Colossians 3:5-11 ESV
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
The whole purpose of Jesus’ death on a cross for our sins was to free us from our slavery (addiction) to sin, and to free us to walk with him in his righteousness and holiness. It was not just to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we leave this earth. He died to radically transform our lives and to conform us to his image. So, in faith, not only do we die with him to sin, but daily, by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. Daily we take up our cross and follow our Lord in obedience.
So, how is this accomplished? How do we put to death sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire, idolatry, wrath, lies and slander, etc.? Well, first and foremost, we don’t do this in our flesh, in our own strength. We do it in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us, as we cooperate fully with his work of grace in our lives, i.e. as we yield to our Lord in following him in obedience and in denying the flesh. Then, in the power of God’s Spirit, we put these things of the flesh to death in our lives.
We also do this by not making any provision for the flesh. In other words, we cut out of our lives everything which is leading us into sin or which is hindering our walks of faith. We can’t be pure in mind and heart, in other words, if daily we are consuming and being entertained by the garbage of the world. We can’t play with temptation. We can’t leave doors open and then expect that we won’t walk through them, in other words. If we have repeatedly fallen into the same sin, then we have to take a hard look at what leads us there. And, then we need to throw those things off.
Also, you have probably heard the saying, “If you don’t make a plan to succeed, then you plan to fail.” There is a lot of truth in that. Many people repeat the same sins over and over again because they are still operating in the flesh, they are going by their feelings, they are not depending on the Lord, they are not willing to cut out of their lives what is leading them into sin, and they don’t have a plan in place for what to do when they are tempted. Thus, when tempted, they tend to cave rather than fight.
Let me remind you, though, that scripture is real clear on the fact that if we continue in these sinful practices, and we walk in them, in lifestyle, that we do not have the hope of heaven but a fearful expectation of judgment. Genuine faith in Jesus Christ results in death to sin and living to righteousness, not continuing in willful sin against God as our regular practice. While it is true that, in our flesh, we may not be able to conquer these sinful habits, it is also true that in the power of God’s Spirit at work within us, we are mighty conquerors through him who loves us.
Put on Love
Colossians 3:12-15 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
I once heard a riddle: When is a thief not a thief? When he stops stealing? No! For he is just a thief between jobs. He is no longer a thief when he stops stealing and then he works for his money and he gives generously to others.
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and we are born again of the Spirit of God, the transformation of heart and mind, of the Spirit of God, which takes place in our lives, is like metamorphosis, i.e. like a caterpillar being turned into a butterfly. The old has gone, the new has come. We were of the flesh. Now, we are of the Spirit. We once lived to please the flesh. Now we live to please the Spirit. This is not saying we will never sin again, but that sin should no longer be what rules our lives, but Jesus should be our Lord.
So, if we used to engage ourselves in impurity, now we live in purity. If we once were liars, now we make truth our practice. To every put off there is a put on, in other words. If we lived selfishly, now we practice being unselfish and giving of ourselves to others. The old us is replaced with the new us, not just positionally, but practically in our day-to-day lives.
Every day I can choose to remain in bed and gratify my flesh, or when God prompts me to get up in the early hours of the morning, I can get up and obey him. I can choose to respond to my circumstances with fear, or with faith. And, I can choose to hold a grudge against someone, or I can choose to forgive, etc.
Colossians 3:16-17 ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Now, this is essential to everything we do in this life. We have to be in the Word of God daily, drinking it into our lives, and then doing what it teaches us.
Now, we are not bound by all the requirements of the Old Covenant Relationship God had with his people, but we are to follow the teachings of the New Covenant, which can be found in the New Testament, many of which repeat what God taught his people under the Old Covenant. Basically, the central message of scripture, both in the Old and the New Testaments, is that we must surrender our lives to God, that we must forsake our sins and our idols, and that we must follow him in obedience to his will for our lives.
Then, as we are following our Lord in obedience, we can encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same. For truly the way in which we are to encourage one another is not by lying to each other to make ourselves and themselves feel better about our flesh. To encourage means to inspire, to hearten, to reassure, to urge or incite, to support, to help, to persuade, to nurture, to motivate, and to influence, etc. It is not just an “Atta Boy.” It is meant to move us all to follow our Lord in obedience.
So, I encourage you today, if you are still giving way to the flesh, as a matter of course, that you surrender your life to Jesus Christ today, and that you submit to his will for your life. I encourage you to allow the Spirit of God to have his way in your life, and that, by the Spirit, you put to death those deeds of your flesh, and that you walk in holiness and purity from this day forward. For, it is not by our own human strength that we are able to conquer the flesh and resist Satan, but it is as we yield to God and we follow him in surrender that we are able to walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Broken and Contrite
An Original Work / May 13, 2012
I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.
Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.
Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.
Friday, March 16, 2018, 1:50 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word. Bring it home to our hearts, I pray, in Jesus’ name.