Faithlife Sermons

Running the Right Race

The Book of Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:47
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God calls all of us to strive to grow and serve Him. If we are not careful we can end up thinking this growing and serving can earn us salvation. Christian maturity is not found in a system of rules and regulations with neat little boxes we can check. We grow when we walk with Christ, abide in Him, serve God and yield to the Holy Spirit.

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CLICK TO EDIT MASTER TEXT STYLES 1 A WORLD-CLASS RUNNER WAS INVITED TO RUN A RACE IN CONNECTICUT. ON THE MORNING OF THE RACE, HE DROVE FROM NEW YORK CITY. 2 FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS GIVEN TO HIM OVER THE TELEPHONE-- OR SO HE THOUGHT - HE GOT LOST, STOPPED AT A GAS STATION, AND ASKED FOR HELP. HE KNEW THAT THE RACE STARTED IN THE PARKING LOT OF A SHOPPING MALL 3 THE STATION ATTENDANT KNEW OF A RACE JUST UP THE ROAD AND DIRECTED HIM THERE. ARRIVING HE WAS RELIEVED TO SEE A FEW RUNNERS PREPARING TO COMPETE. NOT AS MANY AS HE EXPECTED 4 HE HURRIED TO THE REGISTRATION DESK, ANNOUNCED HIMSELF, THE RACE OFFICIALS WERE EXCITED TO HAVE SUCH A RENOWNED AN ATHLETE AT THEIR RACE. 5 THEY HAD NO RECORD OF HIS ENTRY, BUT IF HE'D HURRY, HE COULD JUST MAKE IT BEFORE THE GUN GOES OFF. HE RAN AND, NATURALLY, HE WON EASILY, SOME FOUR MINUTES AHEAD OF THE RUNNER IN SECOND PLACE. 6 ONLY AFTER THE RACE--WHEN THERE WAS NO ENVELOPE CONTAINING HIS PRIZE MONEY— DID HE CONFIRM THAT THE EVENT HE'D RUN WAS NOT THE RACE TO WHICH HE'D BEEN INVITED 7 THAT RACE WAS BEING HELD SEVERAL MILES FARTHER UP THE ROAD IN ANOTHER TOWN. HE'D GONE TO THE WRONG STARTING LINE, RUN THE WRONG COURSE, AND MISSED HIS CHANCE TO WIN A VALUABLE PRIZE. 8 SOMETIMES WE FIND OURSELVES RUNNING IN THE WRONG RACE. WE END UP RUNNING A RACE TO EARN SALVATION BY FOLLOWING CERTAIN RULES. 9 THE RACE GOD WANTS US TO RUN IS TO EARN IS HEAVENLY REWARDS BY STRIVING TO BE MORE LIKE JESUS CHRIST 10 GOD DESIRES THAT WE GROW IN CHRISTIAN MATURITY; WE DO THIS BY TRYING TO BE CHRIST-LIKE. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE ARE NOT DRAWN INTO LEGALISM, FOLLOWING A SET OF RULES, HOPING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH TO EARN SALVATION. 11 IF WE ARE NOT CARE WE CAN END UP RUNNING AS HARD AND AS FAST AS WE CAN, STRUGGLING TO EARN OUR SALVATION, NOT EVEN AWARE WE ARE RUNNING THE WRONG RACE. 12 TODAY WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT A WARNING FROM PAUL TO THE PEOPLE AT COLOSSAE TO MAKE SURE THEY DON’T MISS OUT ON WHAT GOD WANTS FOR THEM. TURN WITH ME IF YOU WILL IN YOUR BIBLES TO COLOSSIANS 2:18. 13 PAUL HAD JUST TOLD THEM THAT THEY WERE NOT TO BE JUDGED ON SUPERFICIAL RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS. HE TOLD THEM EVIL WAS DEFEATED AT THE CROSS AND SIN WAS FORGIVEN 14 HE TOLD THEM FAITH IN CHRIST’S WORK ON THE CROSS RESTORED THEM TO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. HE THEN WARNS THEM NOT TO LET ANYONE TAKE THEIR REWARD FOR GROWING IN CHRIST. 15 COLOSSIANS 2:18–19 LET NO ONE KEEP DEFRAUDING YOU OF YOUR PRIZE BY DELIGHTING IN SELF-ABASEMENT AND THE WORSHIP OF THE ANGELS, TAKING HIS STAND ON VISIONS HE HAS SEEN, INFLATED WITHOUT CAUSE BY HIS FLESHLY MIND, 16 AND NOT HOLDING FAST TO THE HEAD, FROM WHOM THE ENTIRE BODY, BEING SUPPLIED AND HELD TOGETHER BY THE JOINTS AND LIGAMENTS, GROWS WITH A GROWTH WHICH IS FROM GOD. 17 RUN BY STAYING ON COURSE “ LET NO ONE KEEP DEFRAUDING” THE WAY IT IS WORDED INDICATES THIS IS AN ONGOING THING. 18 DO NOT LET THEM KEEP DOING WHAT THEY HAVE ALREADY BEEN DOING. 19 “DEFRAUDING YOU OF YOUR PRIZE” WAS A PHRASE USED TO DESCRIBE A JUDGE DISQUALIFYING CONTESTANTS IN AN ATHLETIC CONTEST. 20 DOING SO WITH PARTIALITY, UNJUSTLY. IN MODERN TERMS; “DON’T LET THE REF MAKE A BAD CALL THAT COSTS YOU THE GAME.” 21 FALSE TEACHERS HAD BEEN DEPRIVING CHRISTIANS, OF THEIR REWARD AT THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. WE DO NOT NEED TO BE STRIVING TO PLEASE MEN LIKE THIS. 22 GALATIANS 1:10 FOR AM I NOW SEEKING THE FAVOR OF MEN, OR OF GOD? OR AM I STRIVING TO PLEASE MEN? IF I WERE STILL TRYING TO PLEASE MEN, I WOULD NOT BE A BOND-SERVANT OF CHRIST. 23 RUN BY ADDING NOTHING THEY ADDED “ DELIGHTING IN SELF-ABASEMENT” THEY THOUGHT: IF I TREAT MY BODY BADLY I WILL BE MORE IN TOUCH WITH GOD 24 LONG FASTS, SLEEP DEPRIVATION, EVEN BEATING ONE’S SELF WITH CHAINS. HAVE BEEN USED OVER THE CENTURIES IN AN EFFORT TO BE CLOSER TO GOD. 25 TREATING YOUR BODY BADLY BECAME AN EVIDENCE OF SPIRITUAL SUPERIORITY. AND THEY ADDED “THE WORSHIP OF THE ANGELS,” THE WORSHIP OF ANGELS INVOLVED A FALSE HUMILITY. 26 THE FALSE TEACHERS CONSIDERED THEMSELVES TO HAVE A SUPERIOR REVERENCE FOR GOD. THIS MAY DESCRIBE WORSHIPING ANGELS, OR WORSHIP OF GOD THROUGH ANGELS. 27 EITHER ONE IS A PROBLEM. WE HAVE ONLY ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. 28 1 TIMOTHY 2:5 FOR THERE IS ONE GOD, AND ONE MEDIATOR ALSO BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS, 29 AND THEY ADDED “ TAKING HIS STAND ON VISIONS HE HAS SEEN” THIS IS ACTUALLY A NICE WAY TO SAY THEY NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT THINGS THEY HAD SEEN IN VISIONS. 30 THEY WERE “INFLATED WITHOUT CAUSE BY HIS FLESHLY MIND” THIS PHRASE MEANS TO BE PUFFED UP, BEAR ONE’S SELF LOFTILY, BE PROUD. 31 THE TEACHERS BOASTED THAT THEY WERE GUIDED BY THE HIGHER REASON . PAUL DESCRIBES THEIR “HIGHER REASON” AS FLESHLY OR CARNAL . 32 THIS TEACHING IS IN DIRECT CONTRADICTION TO CHRISTIAN TRUTH. FAR FROM SECURING SPIRITUAL GROWTH OF A HIGHER ORDER. 33 THE FALSE TEACHING PREVENTED ANY GROWTH AT ALL. SINCE IT OBSTRUCTED THE ONLY CHANNEL OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH, CHRIST. 34 THE CORRECT VIEW OF CHRIST IS ONE WHICH SUBMITS TO HIS AUTHORITY AND ACKNOWLEDGES HIS POWER AS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. THIS WILL LEAD TO GOD-GIVEN GROWTH. 35 PAUL’S MESSAGE TO THE COLOSSIANS IS TO STICK TO WHAT THEY WERE ORIGINALLY TAUGHT AND TO IGNORE THIS NEW PHILOSOPHY. 36 YOGI BERRA, WAS THE CATCHER FOR THE NEW YORK YANKEES. HANK AARON WAS THE CHIEF POWER HITTER FOR THE MILWAUKEE BRAVES. THE TEAMS WERE PLAYING IN THE WORLD SERIES. 37 YOGI WAS KEEPING UP HIS CEASELESS CHATTER, INTENDED TO PEP UP HIS TEAMMATES AND DISTRACT THE MILWAUKEE BATTERS ON THE OTHER. 38 AS AARON CAME TO THE PLATE, YOGI TRIED TO DISTRACT HIM BY SAYING. “HENRY, YOU’RE HOLDING THE BAT WRONG 39 YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO HOLD IT SO YOU CAN READ THE TRADEMARK.” AARON DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING, BUT WHEN THE NEXT PITCH CAME HE HIT IT INTO THE LEFT-FIELD BLEACHERS. 40 AFTER ROUNDING THE BASES AND TAGGING UP AT HOME PLATE. AARON LOOKED AT YOGI BERRA AND SAID, “I DIDN’T COME UP HERE TO READ.” 41 WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE HERE TO DO. ( PAUSE ) WE ARE NOT HERE TO IMPRESS MEN. WE ARE NOT HERE TO TICK OFF SOME BOXES ON A RELIGIOUS SYSTEM. 42 WE ARE HERE TO GROW IN CHRIST, AND ONLY IN CHRIST. WHEN WE UNDERSTAND THE SOURCE OF OUR SALVATION WE BETTER KNOW THE SOURCE OF OUR MATURITY. 43 COLOSSIANS 2:20–22 IF YOU HAVE DIED WITH CHRIST TO THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF THE WORLD, WHY, AS IF YOU WERE LIVING IN THE WORLD, DO YOU SUBMIT YOURSELF TO DECREES, SUCH AS, 44 “DO NOT HANDLE, DO NOT TASTE, DO NOT TOUCH!” (WHICH ALL REFER TO THINGS DESTINED TO PERISH WITH USE)—IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE COMMANDMENTS AND TEACHINGS OF MEN? 45 RUN IN CHRIST ALONE “ IF YOU HAVE DIED” THIS IS A FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCE WHICH IS BETTER TRANSLATED “SINCE YOU HAVE DIED.” 46 PAUL LOOKED BACK TO THE TIME OF THE COLOSSIANS’ CONVERSION, WHICH HE CALLED THEIR DEATH WITH CHRIST. THE FALSE TEACHERS FAILED TO UNDERSTAND THE COMPLETED WORK OF SALVATION 47 THEY FELT THEY NEEDED TO ADD MORE TO IT. THEY HAD DIED WITH CHRIST TO THE LAW, HOW ABSURD FOR THEM TO ALLOW RULES TO BE IMPOSED UPON THEM. 48 RUN BY AVOIDING LEGALISM PAUL’S TEACHING SHOWS PREOCCUPATION WITH THIS WORLD SIDETRACKS CHRISTIANS. SPIRITUAL LIBERTY, IN CHRIST LEADS TO GROWTH. 49 WORKS OF LEGALISM ARE USELESS, SO DO NOT ‘SUBJECT YOURSELVES TO REGULATIONS’, FOR YOU HAVE DIED WITH CHRIST. THE SYSTEM OF THE FALSE TEACHERS WAS A SYSTEM OF DO’S AND DON’T’S ABOUT EARTHLY THINGS. 50 THESE SYSTEMS RUN CONTRARY TO THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL AND THE FREEDOM FOUND IN CHRIST. TOO OFTEN, CHRISTIANS LET THE PRACTICAL ISSUES OF THE WORLD BECOME REFERENCE POINTS FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT. 51 RUN BY GOD’S RULES ONLY “DO NOT HANDLE, DO NOT TASTE, DO NOT TOUCH!” THESE ARE EXAMPLES OF CEREMONIAL RELIGIOUS RULES 52 RULES WHICH DID NOT BRING TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS. HUMANS HAVE ALWAYS HAD AN ASCETIC, LEGALISTIC TENDENCY. 53 BUT THIS IS A HOLLOW RELIGION OF SELF EFFORT, SELF GLORY AND SELF SUFFICIENCY. THIS WAS PART OF THE FALSE TEACHERS APPROACH TO MATURITY; 54 THEY HAD MADE UP RULES TO BE OBEYED AS A WAY OF GROWING CLOSER TO GOD. THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD NOT BIND HIS CONSCIENCE TO MEN, BUT ONLY TO GOD. 55 ROMANS 7:4 THEREFORE, MY BRETHREN, YOU ALSO WERE MADE TO DIE TO THE LAW THROUGH THE BODY OF CHRIST, 56 SO THAT YOU MIGHT BE JOINED TO ANOTHER, TO HIM WHO WAS RAISED FROM THE DEAD, IN ORDER THAT WE MIGHT BEAR FRUIT FOR GOD. 57 “ WHICH ALL REFER TO THINGS DESTINED TO PERISH WITH USE” THESE THINGS PASS ON IN TIME AND, FOR MANY OF THEM, IN A SHORT TIME. USING THEM OR NOT HAS LITTLE SIGNIFICANCE TO CHRISTIAN GROWTH IN TIME AND ETERNITY. 58 A STUDENT OF CHRISTIANITY ASKED HIS INSTRUCTOR; "I AM IN EARNEST ABOUT FORSAKING 'THE WORLD' AND FOLLOWING CHRIST. BUT I AM PUZZLED ABOUT WORLDLY THINGS. WHAT IS IT I MUST FORSAKE?” 59 "COLORED CLOTHES, FOR ONE THING. GET RID OF EVERYTHING IN YOUR WARDROBE THAT IS NOT WHITE. STOP SLEEPING ON A SOFT PILLOW. SELL YOUR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AND DON'T EAT ANY MORE WHITE BREAD 60 YOU CANNOT, IF YOU ARE SINCERE ABOUT OBEYING CHRIST, TAKE WARM BATHS OR SHAVE YOUR BEARD. TO SHAVE IS TO LIE AGAINST HIM WHO CREATED US, TO ATTEMPT TO IMPROVE ON HIS WORK." DOES THIS ANSWER SOUND ABSURD? 61 IT WAS THE ANSWER GIVEN IN THE MOST CELEBRATED CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS OF THE SECOND CENTURY! IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE RULES THAT HAVE BEEN ADOPTED BY MANY TWENTY FIRST-CENTURY; 62 CHRISTIANS WILL SOUND AS ABSURD TO FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST TO SOMEWHERE IN OUR FUTURE? WHAT RULES HAVE WE ADDED TO CHRIST? 63 WE GROW IN CHRIST NOT BY SUBMITTING TO A SET OF RULES OR REGULATIONS, BUT BY STRIVING TO BECOME MORE LIKE CHRIST, WALKING WITH HIM. 64 LOVING PEOPLE, FORGIVING THEM, SERVING THEM; YIELDING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT MORE AND MORE. IT WOULD BE EASIER IF IT WERE A LIST OF REQUIREMENTS WE COULD CHECK OFF. 65 WE FEEL GOOD ABOUT OURSELVES WHEN WE CAN CHECK OFF A BUNCH A BOXES. WE CAN START TO THINKING THAT SOME SYSTEM SURE LOOKS GOOD. 66 COLOSSIANS 2:23 THESE ARE MATTERS WHICH HAVE, TO BE SURE, THE APPEARANCE OF WISDOM IN SELF-MADE RELIGION AND SELF-ABASEMENT AND SEVERE TREATMENT OF THE BODY, BUT ARE OF NO VALUE AGAINST FLESHLY INDULGENCE. 67 RUN GOD’S COURSE “ THE APPEARANCE OF WISDOM” THE WORD FOR APPEARANCE HERE CAN MEAN; “THAT WHICH IS THOUGHT TO BE TRUE BUT IS NOT NECESSARILY SO.” 68 WE CAN GET VERY IMPRESSED BY HOW THINGS LOOK. CERTAINLY A DETAILED SET OF RULES DESCRIBING HOW WE SHOULD LIVE IS BETTER THAN JUST LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR. CERTAINLY A LIST I CAN CHECK OFF WILL HELP ME GROW AND MATURE. 69 PROVERBS 16:25 THERE IS A WAY WHICH SEEMS RIGHT TO A MAN, BUT ITS END IS THE WAY OF DEATH. 70 WHEN ARCHITECT SIR CHRISTOPHER WREN DESIGNED THE INTERIOR OF WINDSOR TOWN HALL NEAR LONDON IN 1689. HE BUILT A CEILING SUPPORTED BY PILLARS. 71 THE CITY FATHERS INSPECTED THE BUILDING AND DECIDED THE CEILING WOULD NOT STAY UP. 72 THEY ORDERED WREN TO PUT IN SOME MORE PILLARS. ENGLAND'S GREATEST ARCHITECT DIDN'T THINK THE CEILING NEEDED ANY MORE SUPPORT, SO HE PULLED A FAST ONE. 73 HE ADDED FOUR PILLARS THAT DID NOT DO ANYTHING -- THEY DON'T EVEN REACH THE CEILING. THE OPTICAL ILLUSION FOOLED THE AUTHORITIES. 74 TO THIS DAY MANY PEOPLE THINK THESE PILLARS ARE HOLDING UP THE CEILING. THEY ARE FOOLED BY THE APPEARANCE OF THE PILLARS. 75 SOME PEOPLE THINK THAT THEIR LEGALISM IS SPIRITUAL STRENGTH, BUT ACTUALLY IT IS AN OBSTACLE TO TRUE HOLINESS. THE FALSE TEACHING MIGHT HAVE SOUNDED CONVINCING. 76 BUT IT WAS ULTIMATELY USELESS BECAUSE IT DID NOT ADDRESS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: SIN. IN CHRIST, HOWEVER, THE WORLDLY POWERS OF SIN HAVE BEEN DEFEATED. 77 BELIEVERS HAVE BEEN RAISED TO NEW LIFE AND THEREFORE HAVE NO NEED FOR MAN-MADE RULES 78 RUN GOD’S RACE NOT MAN’S LIVING BY SUCH REGULATIONS OR SELF-MADE RELIGION HAS A CERTAIN APPEARANCE OF WISDOM. BUT IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO VALUE IN RESTRAINING FLESHLY INDULGENCE. 79 THIS FALSE WISDOM DOES NOT CURB THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH. IT ONLY SPOKE TO THE ENVIRONMENT, NOT THE HEART. PAUL TAUGHT THAT ONLY GOD CAN CONQUER THE FLESH. 80 RULES DO NOT CARRY US VERY FAR IN HUMAN CONDUCT AS EVERY FATHER OR MOTHER KNOWS. IF WE ARE TO GROW IN CHRIST, TO MATURE. WE WILL NOT DO SO BY FOLLOWING A PRESCRIBED SET OF RULES. 81 WE WILL GROW BY HOLDING FAST TO CHRIST. BY TRUSTING IN HIS WORK ON THE CROSS. BY YIELDING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. 82 GOD CALLS US TO RUN A VERY SPECIFIC RACE. WE NEED TO LISTEN TO PAUL’S WARNING. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE ARE NOT LETTING PEOPLE CHANGE THE RACE ON US. 83 THEY TRY TO CHANGE THE RACE BY MAKING MATURITY ABOUT THINGS OTHER THAN CHRIST. IT MAY BE LIGHTING CANDLES. OR PRAYING TO ANGELS OR SAINTS. OR COUNTING BEADS. 84 IT MAY BE FOLLOWING A LIST OF MANMADE RULES. TELLING US WHAT WE CAN AND CANNOT TOUCH OR EAT OR DRINK. THESE THINGS MAY SEEM WISE BUT THEY ARE OF NO HELP IN GROWING MATURE. 85 WE NEED TO KNOW THAT WE GROW THE SAME WAY WE WERE SAVED. BY HOLDING FAST TO CHRIST AND CHRIST ALONE. 86 GROWING TO BE MORE LIKE CHRIST IS PART OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. THIS RELATIONSHIP STARTS WHEN WE PLACE OUR FAITH AND TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST. THAT HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS PAID FOR OUR SINS. 87 IF THERE IS ANYONE HERE WHO HAS NOT TRUSTED IN CHRIST. ANYONE TRYING TO EARN A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. IN A MOMENT I AM GONNA PRAY A PRAYER… 88 89
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