Text: Col 3:1-17
We are wrapping up the book of Colossians today. We started by talking about the gospel. Col 1:3-6. [READ]
Paul preached the gospel to the Colossians. The gospel is the good news of Jesus dying on a cross for hopeless and helpless sinners. Jesus conquered sin and death by resurrecting 3 days later so that those who repent of their sins and turn to Christ in faith can be saved. The Colossians recognized God’s grace in the truth. The gospel quite simply refers to the person and work of Christ. The Colossians heard this message and were saved and the gospel began to bear fruit at their church, just as it had been bearing fruit and growing all over the world.
If there is one message that we should never grow tired of, it has to be the gospel message. We can teach other topics from time to time, but if the predominant message from this church, or any church for that matter, is not the gospel, we will stop bearing fruit. The gospel message, consistently preached and obeyed, will bear fruit in a believer’s life.
Next, we talked about God’s will for your life. Col 1:9-10 [READ]
What is God’s will for your life and mine? Paul prayed that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of His will. That we would know God’s will. God’s will for your life is not to get into a certain school, or to have a certain job, or to accomplish a certain task. God’s universal will is much broader. God’s will is to walk worthy of the Lord. To fully please Him. And how do you walk worthy of the Lord in a way that please Him? By bearing fruit in two areas. First, bearing fruit in every good work. Visible work done for others. And second, growing in our personal knowledge of God. Not growing in our knowledge ABOUT God. Not learning facts. But growing in relational knowledge of God the same way that you get to know a best friend over many years by spending time together.
Then, we talked about Jesus as first. Col 1:15-18 [READ]
Jesus is first over all creation because Jesus was there before the creation ever existed. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God. Jesus is the agent of creation. Jesus is like the foreman on the construction site who oversaw the creation of the universe. And to this day, He still holds all things together. Scientists may think that the universe is held together by the laws of physics and subatomic particles and gray matter, but Scripture is clear, Jesus is behind it all.
Jesus is first in all the universe. Jesus is the head of the church, Jesus is first in the church. Jesus is the beginning, He is literally the First. Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, Jesus is first in the present creation and He will be first in the future new creation. And in case you missed the main point, Paul adds, Jesus is first place in everything. There was never a time, past, present or future, when Jesus was not first. He is first now and forevermore.
Last week, we talked about false teachers. Col 2:6-8 [READ]
These false teachers are not well-intentioned teachers who are slightly off in their theology. Their teachings are more than a bit off. They are based on the elemental forces. Who’s in charge of the elemental forces? Satan. Satan is the one behind the false teachers. The false teachers are Satan’s ambassadors the same way that pastors and missionaries and Christians are ambassadors for Christ. You can either walk in Christ, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith or you can abandon Christ and start following a deceitful philosophy based on human tradition. Worst of all, when you abandon Christ and follow a human tradition taught by a false teacher, you are actually following Satan.
Col 2:16-19 [READ]
This particular brand of false teaching involved ascetic practices and a high degree of legalism. They taught that everyone needs to follow their version of proper religious behavior and the more you abstain from worldly pleasures, the higher you will ascend to spiritual heights, even worship of angels. The particular brand of false teaching is not important. What we have to aware of is the overall strategy. The goal of Satan and the false teachers is always the same. The methodology can change, but the goal never changes. They want to cut off Christians from our Head, Jesus Christ. Whatever Satan can put as the top pursuit of your life, if it is something or someone other than Jesus, then he’s accomplished his goal. Because without the Head, there is no life. Jesus as the Head of the body provides nourishment to all believers.
It makes sense, then, that in the conclusion of this letter to the Colossian church, Paul talks about the Christian life. What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it look like? How do we live out Christian life? How do we stay connected to Jesus as our Head and not fall into Satan’s schemes?
Christian life involves two parts. First, you got to put away the old. And second, you got to put on the new. You can’t do one without the other. Both are important. If you’ve been a Christian for a while, I hope this is review. Salvation began when you put away the old, when you initially repented of your sin and you died to your sinful nature. Repentance was step one. Putting your faith in Christ was step two.
Let’s look at step one. Repentance.
Col 3:1-8 [READ]
Paul begins by contrasting the earthly life with the heaven-minded, spiritual life. What determines which path you’re on. Verse 1 – what you seek and verse 2 – what you set your minds on. If you seek heavenly things, spiritual things and you set your mind on heavenly, spiritual things, then you have a chance of being spiritual. If you seek earthly things and your mind is set on earthly things, chances are, you are earthbound, you are fleshly.
Verses 5-8 describe the earthbound life. There are two sets of sins that characterize the earthbound life. The first set can be found in verse 5. The earthbound or fleshly life is characterized by sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed. This much pretty much sums it up. I can’t think of a better description of this world and a person who is living according to the worldly nature. This world is all about sex and greed. How can I satisfy this flesh, how can I treat the opposite gender as an object of my pleasure? How can I pursue greed, greed for material things, greed for money or greed for power?
The deception of the world is that you can pursue these things thinking you will be satisfied, but you will never be satisfied. You can sleep around with a different woman every night, you can surf the net and engage in your fantasies, you can have all the money in the world and eat whatever you want and travel the world, and guess what? It will never be enough. The earthbound life is a life of panting for more and more and more because the sinful nature is like a beast that can never be satisfied. One more sexual experience, one more website, a little more money, a slightly bigger car, a slightly higher job title, it’s never enough. This first set of sins define the essence of the world and those who live according to the worldly or sinful or earthbound nature.