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Weekly Word

Monday
Aug062018

Evangelist Joe Pyott

Brother Joe Pyott was with us on July 29, 2018 for the morning service.

Joe shares his testimony of God calling him to preach the Gospel and his attempts to preach in Belize.

Joe Pyott

Thursday
Jul262018

Putting on the "New Man" at Home

Colossians 3:18-22.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on July 22, 2018.

I understand that the imagery used in Colossians three of the “new man” may seem to emphasize gender.  But we should not let our sensitivity to gender issues fog our understanding what Paul is saying here.  The new man is in reality Jesus, and both men and women are to put off their old self and take on a new life that is modeled and led by Christ.  Thus when I use this phrase for how we act at home it is a directive for men, women, and kids of both genders.  We are to all put on Christ live out his directives rather than remaining in our old way of thinking, feeling, and living.

Now, it is important to recognize that the concept of a family or home was instituted by God at the very beginning.  It is he who designed humans with split sexuality that required the union of a man and a woman.  When a man and a woman come together in marriage, they create a unit or a unity before God.  Typically, they will raise up children for the next generation, and in so doing they continue the cycle.  Their children will grow up, find a person of the opposite sex with whom they leave their parents and create a new home together, a new unity before God.  Yes, there are people who identify as homosexual etc. and who reject this.  But this is not the purpose of our time together today.  Here we are listening to what God has to say regarding how each member of the household should approach that unit.

Humanity has often warped this institution of God for its own ends.  In fact, in the fall of Genesis chapter three, God warns Eve that her sin would impact her relationship with her husband, and that effect has echoed throughout each generation.  It is not just humanity that is the problem, but rather humanity in its fallen state or sinful state.  In fact everything that people would point to as bad within marriage and family, can be directly attributed to sinfulness in the hearts of those doing it.  The answer is not to throw aside God’s institution, but rather to become better husbands, wives, parents and children.

In our passage Paul deals with three relationships that were very hierarchical in those days.  They were husband over wife, parents over children, and masters over their house-slaves.

Modern man often judges the Bible and its writers because they did not battle against these hierarchies.  However, they often do this because they do not understand that God calls us to a different battle.  As long as there are humans on this earth, hierarchical relationships will continue to exist.  In tearing down one system, we only find another hierarchy imposed upon us.  The systems of this world use envy and strife as the energy to keep the system moving forward.  As long as everyone is busy trying to destroy the hierarchy or become it, we lose sight of the true battle that will destroy us all; the battle in our hearts and minds.  If we toss aside the system of today and replace it with another system, we will only find another form of tyranny and hierarchy because people have a sin problem.  So instead of stirring up a slave riot, Christianity taught slaves how to break free of the slavery in their hearts and minds, a slavery to sin.  The purpose of this life is to overcome sin’s hold on our heart, regardless of where your place is in the current system.

Wives take your place with your husband

Paul speaks first to the wives in verse 18.  The women of Colosse in the first century were considered to be under their husband’s dominion.  There was a clear hierarchy.  I know that this is heresy in today’s environment.  It sounds like the Bible is supporting the hierarchy and dominance over women.  But that is a corrupt view of the verse and others like it in the Bible.  Instead of focusing on whether the hierarchy is good or not, wives are encouraged to submit to their husbands.  The term “submit” was actually a military term and referred to taking your place within a military hierarchy.  This does not mean a home should be run like a military organization.  Rather, it is a metaphorical usage.  The wife should take her place, whatever that may be (under or alongside) her husband.  I say this because there is more going on here than what this verse implies.

Look back at verse 11 in this chapter.  Paul had just established the reality that the old distinctions of this world are irrelevant in Christ.  “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”  He doesn’t mention male-female in that verse.  But the same argument used in Galatians 3:28 does.  The point is that those distinctions that the systems of this world use to place one side over the other are to become meaningless to believers.  Not meaningless in the sense that we pretend they don’t exist, but meaningless in the sense that those distinctions do not drive our thoughts, feelings, and actions.  That is part of the old life.  The new life looks to Christ to lead us in what we should think and what we should do (of course feelings go up and down all the time).  Thus Paul is not saying that the hierarchy is good.  He is simply telling the women that Christ wants them to take their place (whatever it may be) in the home.  In that day it was clearly a place under the leadership of their husbands.  In 21st century USA it would be to take your place alongside your husband.  Notice this is Christ’s instructions to individual wives, not an instruction to societies or nations on how they should view the wife-husband relationship.  Thus cultures have a variety of expressions of this relationship, though a male-dominated model has been the most predominate.  We should not let our gender, race, economic status, class, or any other distinction drive our life.

Though our society has embraced the reality that the Bible is actually elevating the status of all underprivileged, it makes the mistake by promoting and inflaming those distinctions.  This only divides us further and keeps us from walking in the unity that God is trying to give us.  Instead of fighting their husbands for dominance, wives need to do their best to work with their husbands as a unit.  Our different gifts will allow for a diversity of expressions for how this would play out.  Today, we do not live in a cultural system with rigid, precise roles.  Husbands and wives have to work out together, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to run the household.  Even if your husband isn’t the Christian that he should be, a wife needs to focus on her obligation before God to work for unity in the home.

In each of these relationships you will find that we are told to do what would be the hardest thing for us to do.  Women had been under a dominance of men for millennia.  With the Gospel’s teaching that those distinctions no longer mattered, it would be easy to “throw off the yoke.”  Instead wives are told to take their place under their husband’s leadership.  Today, women are not in the exact same boat.  But, they still have had to deal with the dominance of men in relationships.  Instead of fighting men for dominance, go into the marriage and ask Christ how to bring peace and unity to it, at least for your part.

Before we move to men, I want to comment on the phrase, “as is fitting in the Lord.”  Again, we can interpret this to mean that it is fitting for women to be under men.  But that is a huge assumption.  He is telling women that it would not be fitting for a follower of Christ to try and take over.  The act of taking your place is what is fitting.  Voluntary submission neutralizes the hierarchical system by refusing to play the game of this world system.  Jesus epitomized this virtue in his life.  He submitted to the leaders of Israel and allowed himself to be crucified.  However, in so doing we are told that He overcame the world.  Thus if we are really following Jesus as our model, and He really is leading us, we will reject the rebel approach and adopt the humble servant model.  It is only fitting that Christians, men or women, who find themselves in a similar situation, should focus on honoring Christ rather than getting something for themselves.  Thus what is fitting in the Lord is to use the power and gifts that we have for others at the direction of Jesus, rather than for our own selfish purposes.  In Christ we voluntarily give up power in order to serve others.  Christ is the power.  When we adopt this attitude we neutralize the attempt of the spirit of this world to play us off of one another.

Husbands love your wives without bitterness

Husbands are also given a command, but notice that the command is not to make sure your wife is taking her place.  Instead husbands are told to love their wife, regardless of whether she “submits” or not, without being bitter.  It is easy for a person to become bitter when they don’t think they are getting what they should.  Christ tells husbands to drop that kind of attitude and instead simply love their wives.

In Ephesians 5, Paul gives the same command, but adds to it that husbands are to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the Church.  Think about how much Jesus loved the Church.  He loved the Church so much that he laid his life down for us.  This is true physically, but also metaphorically.  Instead of using the power system of this world for His own ends, Jesus used his power for the sake of the Church.  So husbands must not use their power of position, physicality, or cultural standing for their own ends.  Rather, whatever the place of a husband in society, it should be used for the sake of the wife, period.  Love her, not love yourself by telling her how to best serve you.

In fact, Paul takes this one step further in Ephesians 5 by saying that the marital relationship is supposed to be a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the Church.  How well is my part of this marital relationship reflecting Christ?  Christ doesn’t verbally abuse the Church, or manhandle the Church.  He isn’t forcing himself upon the Church and overpowering it.  Historically the Church and husbands have muddied the waters of what Christ has called us to do.  But we cannot let the failures of the past direct our actions today.  We must look to Christ and ask Him to teach us how to love. In fact if we insert the concept here about what is fitting in the Lord, we would end up with a statement like this.  It is fitting in the Lord for a husband to use the power and gifts that he has for the sake of his wife at the direction of Jesus, rather than for his own selfish purposes!

Children obey your parents

Children are simply told to obey their parents.  Yes, Jesus expects children to reject the path of their “old man” and put on the “new man.”  Yet, instead of obeying parents because, “I said so,” they are to obey their parents in order to please Jesus.  Some parents cannot be pleased regardless what a kid does.  But kids, take heart.  Your job is not to please your mom and dad, but to do your best to please Jesus.  This can make all the difference and protects our hearts against the poison of rebellion.

It is God’s design that puts children in a loving home of a man and a woman who are working in unity for the good of that child, as directed by Christ.  However, it is our sin that messes up every aspect of that last sentence.  None of us should use the sin of the other people in the family to justify rebellion against the commands of Christ.  This world does its best to stir up kids against the leadership of their parents.  It also demoralizes parents to the point that they either give up trying to train their children, or they buy into the lies of this world system and neglect them.

Let me just say that no kid deserves to be abused by their parents or any guardian for that matter.  It is up to the other adults in their life to be a help when abuse happens.  However, we are headed to the place that to teach your child to serve Christ is labeled as child abuse.  So we need a balance here.  Kids have a need to learn to follow the leadership of their parents before they can take on the leadership of their own life as an adult.

Fathers don’t stir up your children

Though this is addressed to fathers, it would apply to both parents.  In the child-parent relationship, the kid has no power.  Some of that has been moderated with education and CPS, etc.  Here Christ commands fathers not to purposefully stir up their children, or exasperate them.  The word translated here has the idea that you are provoking them to the point that they are angry and wrathful.  Parents should always be monitoring the heart of the child because our job is not to force them into a hierarchical system, but to help them grow up and become like Jesus.

The caution is further defined by the fact that if we go too far, we can discourage the child.  The term translated “discouraged” in verse 21 basically means to break the spirit of the child.  Each child is an image-bearer of God who is destined to take their place in the ranks of God’s people.  In that sense they are your little brother or sister.  Instead of correcting and teaching out of hurt and exercising dominance, we are to correct and teach children out of love and in order to help them become like Christ.  All parents should learn to use their power and gifts, not to spoil a child rotten, but to prepare them for life and help them to become like Jesus, without breaking their spirit and discouraging them away from Him.

Slaves obey your masters

Though I mentioned this earlier, I must reiterate that it is easy to be angry that the Bible doesn’t tell us to throw off slavery and all masters.  However, Christ calls slaves to a different battle.  Over the process of time, Christians were able to see the truth of the Scriptures and come up with a system that removed these social inequities.  However, let us not lose the point of the Scriptures.  What does it profit a slave to be emancipated within society and yet still be in chains to sin on the inside?  Yes, his few years in this world may be happier, possibly.  But, he will be in a world of hurt when he stands before God.

We must recognize that the world’s system always has slaves, whether they are called that or not.  In fact, there is still slavery going on in the USA today.  It has just been swept under the rug and exists in seedy places, where women, children, and men are trafficked in order to satisfy the cravings of wicked people.  We should continue to do our best to remove this blight from our society.  However, that societal battle cannot save a person’s soul.

We should also take note that this passage is not talking about those who are pressed into slavery illegally. 

Slaves are given a hard command just as husbands, wives, and children; obey your masters.  First of all we should notice the qualification that these “masters” are master in regard to the body only.  Men have often bought and sold the bodies of other humans.  But it is up to the slave whether they have also purchased their soul.  A master cannot control your heart and mind unless you let him.  They cannot control your ability to worship God in the holies of holies of your own heart and mind.  Thus slaves can serve their masters as an act of worship to their true master in heaven.  I don’t have time to go into all the ways that the slavery that happened throughout the United States of America, and elsewhere, was actually breaking the commands of Scripture.  But please hear the heart of Paul’s message.  The answer is not in breaking out of the situation, but in first, breaking free from the sins of your own heart.

Secondly, two words are used to challenge how Christian slaves served their masters.  The first word is “eye-service,” and the second is “men-pleasers.”  Eye-service refers to the fact that a worker will tend to be lazy when the boss is not around, and then start working hard when the boss is looking.  This is how the flesh is when we are focused on pleasing people in order to get what we want.  Christians are called to reject being a “man-pleaser.”  Instead we are to please God.

Technically the Bible emancipates all Christian slaves from their masters and tells them to serve their earthly masters as a service to Christ.  Now they are to be the best slave possible, working hard even when they are not being watched.  They are to do a sincere job in the fear of God, not their earthly master.  This may seem to be a heartless command on one hand.  However, how much more heartless is it to encourage people to rebel, and yet leave them in shackles to their own sinful hearts?  Only the Holy Spirit can help us to see the radical call of God to break the hold that the system of this world has on your heart.  Even in choosing the path of the rebel, you are only satisfying the systems need to energize for the next developing system.  Meanwhile people go on not dealing with their own hearts.

In our society we have technically taken the slave class and moved it into the poor class.  Today we are tempted in our jobs to be pit against our employers.  Yes, many employers of this world are taking advantage of their employees.  But, as a Christian it is not my job to rebel against the employers of this world.  Rather, it is my job to give an honest day’s work out of respect for Christ.  The rest is between Christ and my employer.  Christians should be the best employees that the world can hire because we have learned to use our power and gifts for the sake of others, regardless of what we get from them in return.

Let me close this by challenging us today.  Don’t let the world dictate what you believe and what you will do.  Instead serve Christ with your life.  Let Him teach you how to quit this system of pitting one group against another.  Let Him teach you how to use your power and gifts to bless others in your life, starting at home, and working outward from there.  Let Christ teach you how to root out those hurts and that bitterness, which keeps you circling the same drain over and over again.  Let His Holy Spirit lift you up out of the bondage to which this world seeks to chain you.

New Man at Home

Tuesday
Jul172018

Seeking the Things that are Above II

Colossians 3:12-17.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on July 15, 2018.

Seeking the things that are above is a phrase that is used to change our perspective on how we live our life.  We can either live with our heart and mind, which is naturally fixated on the earth, leading us, or we can live with our heart and mind, turned towards heaven and the leadership of Christ.  Our flesh will lead us to destruction, but the leadership of Jesus will lead us to eternal life.

Thus, Christians need to be followers of Jesus in deed and not just in word.  To truly follow someone involves watching what direction they choose and making corrections accordingly.  Similarly, to be a disciple of Jesus, we must do more than just show up for His lessons.  We must actually take time to study the lessons that He teaches and then put them into practice in our lives.  In that way we will truly become more like Him over the course of time.

In our passage today, we will see the why, what, and how of doing this.  This passage will not answer every question that you may have.  However, it will encourage you to be a person who is seeking the things that are above rather than a person who is pursuing the things of this world.

Putting on the New Man

In verses 8-10, Paul has introduced the metaphor of taking off our old man, like you would a set of clothing, and then putting on the new man.  In this metaphor the old man represents my life as led by my own fleshly heart and mind.  The new man is Jesus, and by faith Christians are those who are taking off the old way of life and putting on the new way of life that is directed by Jesus.  Now, this is not intended just to be a nice platitude, but a template for our daily transformation.  This is something we must wake up every day and pray, “Lord, show me where I need to put off the old man today, and strengthen me to put on the new that you have for me.”

Thus verse 12 quickly explains why we should give ourselves to such a task.  The first is that we have been chosen by God.  God chose us for the purpose of becoming like Jesus.  He did not choose us just to warm a pew on Sunday mornings.  Also, this choosing was not based upon the fact that we were better than others around us, but simply because we humbled ourselves, and turned from the wisdom of this world and turned towards Jesus, the wisdom of God.  If I refuse to take off the old man and put on the new man, then I am rejecting the purpose for which God chose me.  In fact, I am ultimately rejecting His choice, period.

The second reason he gives for putting on the new man is because we are holy.  We are not holy because we got our act together better than those who are not.  We are holy because when we were chosen by God, He also set us apart for His holy purposes.  Those purposes do include taking the good news about Jesus and His salvation to all people, even to the ends of the earth.  However, we cannot preach salvation if it is not happening in our daily life.  Salvation is more than a legal standing before God.  It is also something that God does in our life every day as we listen to Him and find deliverance from our old man.  The foundation of the Gospel is God’s ability to take the worst of sinners and enable them to become like Jesus, the sinless one.  It is Jesus who purchased us with His blood on the cross, and He did so in order that we would become like Him.  When we are like Him then we can produce deliverance throughout the earth.  However, to use our life for worldly and selfish purposes would be to profane (use a holy thing for common purposes) what God has made holy.

The third reason he points out for putting on the new man is because we are loved by God.  When you have the love of the Creator, then nothing else matters.  It doesn’t matter when the world rejects me because God loves me.  It doesn’t matter if I am lacking in the things of this world.  In Christ I have everything I need.  He is the one who takes care of my needs.  Thus there are two loves that we must choose between.  We can remain in the love of God and pursue His purposes, or we can remain in love with the world and go after the purposes of our own flesh.  We cannot love both because they are diametrically opposed to one another.  I can’t love the ways of the world and the desires of my own flesh, and still love God.  I will go towards one and away from the other.  When we turn towards God in reciprocal love, then He teaches us how to love the world properly.  The proper way to love the world is to lay down your life that they might live, rather than plunging headlong with them into destruction.  May we love God enough that our hearts are changed regarding the world.  Then we will love people enough to call them back from the edge of destruction.

So what does it look like to put on the new man?  In the second part of verse 12 through verse 14, Paul lists many things that show us what this looks like.  He does so not because we need a checklist to accomplish, but because of the deceptions that Christians encountered then and of course also today.  There is one Lord, Jesus, and we are called to one life, putting Him on.  There are no such things as Christians who are at such a high level that it is now okay for them to do things that the Bible tells us are sin.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  These are listed to guard against error.

The first thing he tells us to put on is tender mercies, also translated compassionate hearts.  This parallels Micah 6:8 where we are told to love mercy enough to live it out in our daily lives.  Thus Christians are told to choose the tenderness of God over the hardness of the world.

The next word is kindness.  Kindness goes beyond doing the right thing.  It involves going beyond.  Jesus helped people, but more than that he did so in a kind manner.  We see such tenderness in John 4 as He talks with the woman at the well.

Next we are told to put on humility.  Humility is the disposition of the mind in which we do not see ourselves as superior or above others.  Christ is above us all and asks us to position ourselves beneath each other, so that we can serve one another in His name.  Of course, this is exactly what He did when He yielded to the cross.  Though He is God, He embraced the lowest place.  How much more ought we to do so?

Next we are to put on meekness.  This word is often defined as strength under control.  Its emphasis is gentleness and being mild-mannered, not because you lack strength, but because the Spirit of God enables you to control yourself.  A meek person is not pushing themselves and their agenda, but leaving room for others and what Christ is doing through them.

Patience in this passage is having a long fuse with others.  It is easy to be short-tempered and easily aroused to anger.  However, Christ is patient and slow to anger.

We are told to bear with one another.  We would probably call it putting up with one another.  Yes, it is not always easy to put up with YOU, just as it is not always easy to put up with ME!  This has more to do with the personality differences and disagreements we may have.  Christ puts up with our pettiness and slowness to follow Him, and He does so because He loves us.  Our flesh is too quick to write others off and refuse to deal with them.  This is not the heart of God.

Then we are told to forgive one another.  Here we get to the parts where may do each other wrong in one way or another.  The heart of God wants to forgive us for our sins and works towards reconciliation.  Thus, those who follow Jesus must also be a forgiving people.  This is one of the hardest things for our flesh to swallow.  Forgiveness is not saying, “It’s OK.”  Rather, it is saying, “I am not going to hold this against you.  It is now between you and God.”  If a person is repentant and wants reconciliation, then we embrace them as Jesus embraced Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in John 21.

Lastly, Paul tells us, “above all these things put on love.”  One way to view these different virtues is to see them as different facets of what it means to love Christ and to love others.  When you love someone you have a tender heart towards them, are kind to them, and humble around them, etc.  When we live out the love of Christ in our life it perfectly binds us to one another.  Genealogy, blood, race, nationality, and any other thing cannot perfectly bind people to one another, but the love of Christ can.  Such love cannot be commanded or forced by any human being.  But, every one of us is led by the Spirit of Christ to let the love of Christ be expressed in our life.

So how can we live in such an incredible way?  Verse 15 transitions to answering this question.  Putting on Christ is a daunting task and an extremely high bar.  How can God expect us to do it?  Paul points us back to Christ as our hope of accomplishing such a task.

The phrase, “let the peace of Christ rule in your heart,” has two parts to it.  First we must let it.  Those who put their faith in Christ are the recipients of His peace.  This is given to us by the work of the Holy Spirit in our heart.  The picture I would use for this situation is when the disciples were with Jesus in a boat on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:39).  The sea represents our heart and all the emotions, desires, and thoughts that can stir up such an internal tempest that we fear for our lives.  Letting Jesus bring His peace into our hearts involves having Jesus in our “boat” in the first place.  But, more than that, we must call out to Jesus and ask Him to quell our inner storms.  When we call on Jesus, He says the words, “Peace, be still!”  Once Jesus calms those fears, emotions and desires, we then must let it rule in our hearts.  The word “rule” means the peace that Christ has brought to us is now calling the shots about what we will think, desire, and feel.  When you let Jesus lead in your life, you are enabled to have an inner peace that directs you without turbulence and chaos.  Clearly, this is something we must do each day.  Our hearts tend towards chaos, but letting Jesus rule in our hearts brings peace.  You don’t do this by yourself and all in one day.  You simply need to let the peace of Christ take up residence in your heart and let Him be your King.  “What are we working on today, Lord?”

Next, we are told to be thankful.  Learning to be thankful in each moment is a difficult thing.  Without the assurance that Christ is with us, it would be an impossible thing.  Thankfulness begins with contentment.  When we are content with what God has provided in our life and the station of life in which we have found ourselves, it transforms how we approach others.  Thankfulness needs to become the atmosphere of our daily life.  Each morning, rise up and thank God for the day, but not because it is an opportunity to get more.  Do so simply because it is another day to be faithful in those good things that the Lord has given you.  Instead of looking to the hills for something better, ask the Lord how you might care for what He has already given you.  When you are faithful with the “little” that He has given you, then perhaps you will find that those little things are far greater than you imagined.  It seems impossible to be able to choose to be thankful.  It involves getting our eyes off of what you don’t have here on earth, and looking towards what you do have there in heaven.  God, help me to see what I have already.  Lord, help me to want to please you, in order that I might be more like you!

Lastly, we are told to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly.  Notice that we are to “let” it happen.  God is working to put His Word in us and to have it richly bless our inner life.  This definitely involves reading the Bible, and spending some time in studying it yourself and with others.  However, Jesus is also called the Word.  Thus it is both, the commands that He gives us and He Himself.  Like the glory of God coming upon the tabernacle or the temple of Israel, so we should want the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  We must not only memorize the word of God, but also have the Spirit who spoke it working inside of us that it might be fruitful.  This process of letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly is expressed in several ways.  We are told to teach and admonish one another, in the ways of Christ.  Also we are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (alone and with others).  God’s people are intended to be a singing people.  We sing not because our voices are so good, but because we have something worth singing about, Jesus!  Our hearts are full of the grace of God, and He is pleased to hear the sound of our hearts as we sing about it.

Paul ends this passage with a powerful statement.  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him!  We are representatives of Christ in this world.  How well do I represent Jesus?  To some degree, we all fall short.  However, that is why we are told to bear with one another and forgive each other.  Jesus knows that we will have bumps and scrapes along the way, but He promises to dwell within us and enable us from the inside out.  The path forward is not an easy path, but it is a good one in which God will give us all the resources we need to put on the New Man and become like Jesus.  He will help us to be His spiritual children, amen!

Seeking things II Audio

Tuesday
Jul102018

Seeking the Things that are Above

Colossians 3:1-11.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on July 8, 2018.

Last week we talked about not turning to legalism as a legitimate expression of Christianity.  Yes, there are certain things that Christians should not do and others that they should do.  But lists of things we shouldn’t eat or drink, and special days we should observe in order to be holy has nothing to do with Christ. 

In our passage today we will see that we need to turn to Jesus rather than a list of regulations.  He needs to become our life, to become everything.  When it comes to the Christian life, we must never forget that Christ is everything to us.  He is the foundation on which we stand, the image towards which we are being transformed, the power by which it is all done, and the hope that lies before us.

So as we look at this passage, let us hear the words of life that teach us how to truly live.

We have died with Christ and been made alive with Christ

Back in chapter 2 Paul had reminded us that the fact that we have died to the world with Christ should refute the regulations of legalism.  Here in verses 1-4 of chapter 3 he continues to the other side of this truth.  We have been made alive with Christ.  Thus our life and how it is lived must be connected to Christ and not this world.  This means our focus or concern should be towards heaven where Christ is.  Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father.  His perspective and commands will be quite different from a person who is here on earth.  Ultimately it is the things of heaven, the things of Christ, that should concern Christians.

Now this could give rise to the phrase that a person is “So heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”  However, this is not what Paul is getting at.  He is not talking about ignoring the earth, but rather about looking to Christ for our directions on how to operate in this world.  God is deeply concerned with this earth and the people on it.  That is why Jesus came and died on the cross.  When we look at life with His concerns and walk in His purposes and direction, then it does much good for this earth.  Thus to be heavenly minded as Paul means it, is to live in this life directed by the leadership of Christ.

In verse 3 he mentions that the things that make for our life are hidden from the world.  Christ cannot be seen by the world and His instructions to us cannot be seen either.  His connection to us through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit is not something that can be touched or seen.  Sure they should see how we live and the effects of these things in our lives, but they cannot actually see the influence.  Thus the world will not understand the reasons and motivations, which come from heaven.

In verse 4 we are told that when Christ is revealed from heaven in glory, it will suddenly become clear what we were living for.  In fact the glory of Christ will be our glory too!  It takes faith and trust in God’s Word.  We must believe that He will do what He has said He will do.  Christians are those who walk in the faith that though our life may not make sense to the world around us, it is directed by God Himself and will be rewarded in due time.

We put off the old man

Starting in verse 5 Paul uses several metaphors for the Christian life.  One of these is that of the old man.  It is a metaphor for our old life of listening to our flesh (body, mind, and heart) and following its desires.  We are told to put it off like we would do with the clothes that we sleep in at night, in order to then put on the right clothes to go about our day.

In fact, in verse 5 he opens with an even harsher metaphor- “put to death.”  The terminology can be a bit foreign to us.  The term “members” refers to the parts of us that are centered upon the things of the world.  These are expressed in certain sinful activities and conditions of our heart.  They need to be sacrificed on the altar to God by dying to their pull on us.  Paul lists several things.  Fornication is any sex outside of a committed marriage between one man and one woman.  Uncleanness is any impure desire or motive.  Passion is those afflictions of our mind and heart that push us towards sin.  Yes, passion can be a positive thing, but it is clearly about sinful things in this list.  Evil desire speaks for itself.  Covetousness is called idolatry because we allow ourselves to become a slave to the thing we covet rather than a slave of God.  It becomes god in our lives.  All of these things need to be put to death in our life.  This is something that has to be done daily, as they surface in our hearts and minds.  Like weeds we will not be able to completely remove all traces of them in this life.  But we can keep them from growing and bearing evil fruit in our life.  If we follow these things they will not bring us true life, no matter how alive one may feel when they first give in to them.  In the end these things will leave you empty and hopeless regardless of what Ashley Madison has to say.

In fact in verse 6 Paul reminds us that these are the things that are bringing the wrath of God.  Just in case we thought these were nice suggestions on how to have a better life, we are reminded that those who practice such things are in jeopardy.  This world may be progressing in technology, which gives it the allusion that we are somehow becoming better.  But, morally we are not progressing.  We are wallowing in the same muck and mire that mankind has always wallowed in.  The message of the Gospel is this, “Save yourself from this wicked and perverse generation by fleeing to Jesus before it is too late!”  We will all face the wrath of God one way or another.  We will either be alive when it is poured out at the end of the age or we will face it when we die and come before God.  Believers can face both situations with confidence because Jesus has taken the wrath of God that should fall on us, upon Himself.  We can stand in His presence with confidence because of Jesus and Him alone.

In verse 7 he reminds us that these things should be a part of our past.  It is how we used to live, before Christ.  This is the old life, but now Christ is our Master and Savior.  His Spirit has taken up residence within us.  Let us not fool ourselves.  We cannot continue to follow the ways of the world and the ways of our flesh and find life.  They can only lead us to destruction.  Like Joshua of old we must choose today whom we are going to serve, and may it be Jesus that we chose to serve.

In verses 8 to 9 Paul continues with a list of deeds that many would think of as “little sins.”  We are tempted to coddle them and allow them to remain in our life.  We can justify them in our heart more easily.  But Paul warns against such deeds of the old man.  Anger- I used to get angry about things, but Christ is calling me to leave anger behind.  I am to be directed by heaven, not my anger.  Wrath- My flesh is focused on justice and getting people back, but heaven reminds us that this is not our job and that we must let it go lest we fall under the wrath of God ourselves.  Malice- This is typically a deeper-seated, festering ill-will towards others.  Christians are to root this out and reject its seductive logic.  Blasphemy- It is not just untrue things we say of God.  It basically means to slander or say untrue things about any other.  Filthy language- Our old life learned all manner of crude and vulgar ways to express ourselves.  Such talk should be left in the dust.  We must let the Lord purify our speech.  Lying- How easy it is to lie to one another in order to get what we want or to protect ourselves.  Whether it is active lying where we state untruths or passive lying where we mislead people so that they make the wrong conclusions, lying is a form of manipulation that brings destruction into our life and the lives of those around us.

Jesus was none of these things.  If we have truly rejected the world with Him and are living only for Him, then these things should change.  There is no way around this truth.  Yes, it doesn’t just happen in an instant.  But it does happen nonetheless.

We put on the new man

We will talk more about this next week.  But let’s end on the positive.  If we are to take off the old man then clearly we must put on the new man.  Paul points out in verses 10-11 that the new man is renewed in knowledge.  Knowledge is key to our transformation.  We know that these things hold nothing but God’s wrath for us.  So why would we then hold on to them?  We also know that Jesus is not like these things.  So why would we continue in them?  We also know that Christ died to set us free from these things.  So let’s be renewed in body, mind, and heart.

He also mentions that we are renewed according to the image of Christ.  The renewal is not just a “new me.”  It really is a taking on the image of Jesus.  We are taking Him on and being transformed.  In that sense, Jesus is the new man.  We are all taking on the One New Man, Jesus.  WE are the students becoming like the master, as His Holy Spirit works within us to enable the transformation.

He ends this section by pointing out that the old distinctions are irrelevant when Christ is our everything.  It doesn’t matter what race or station of life a person is or comes from.  A believer in Jesus sees one thing.  Is Christ living within that person as well as me?  Christ is everything and all those distinctions are nothing.  How we interact with people, both believers and the lost, should have nothing to do with race, economic station, gender or what else.  It has only to do with Christ.  What does He think and what does He want.  The power of Christ has come to break all of these distinctions down so that Christ indwells every kind of person on the earth, and we can receive another believer as a brother or a sister in Christ, not because of earthly things, but because of the heavenly reality that Jesus dwells within us both.  Does Jesus dwell within you today?  Pray and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and become your Lord and Savior.  Let us put off the old man and put on the New Man!

Seek the Things Above audio

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