"THE GREAT SUBSTITUTION"
(A Message from Colossians)
Westgate Chapel 8/3/03 Colossians 1:21-23
PROPOSITION: The only way to remove the alienation between unregenerate man and God, and be changed and reconciled to Him, made perfect in His sight without accusation, is through persevering faith in the person of Jesus Christ.
- (READ story about Father Maximilian Kolbe from Chuck Colson's, "The Body", pp 322 - 327.)
- THIS true story is a very moving example of a rare demonstration of sacrificial love....one human for the life of another.
- AND there probably is not a father in this building who would not be willing to lay down his life for one of his children.
- OR possibly there is a very dear friend for whom you would be willing to lay down your life if called on to do it.
- FORTUNATELY for us all there are very few times in a nation like America where this kind of sacrifice is called for. It is extremely rare.
- BUT who here would have been willing to lay down his/her life for Jeffrey Dalmer or Timothy McVeigh...who murdered people without mercy?
* Anyone here willing to lay down their lives for Saddam Hussein?
* Muamar Khadaffi?
* An abortionist?
* A rapist?
* A child molester?
- ROMANS 5:7-8 says,
"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
- JESUS became our substitute....taking on Himself God's wrath for our sin....and died on behalf of Timothy Mc Veigh, Ted Bundy, Alec Rowlands not when we were good, but when we were still filthy in our sin.
- THIS is the great substitution that brings us Life.
- PLEASE turn with me to Colossians 1:21-23 this morning (pg. 1165).
ii. WHAT YOU AND I USED TO BE
- COLOSSIANS was written by Paul to a small group of believers who were under severe attack at the hands of a pagan society in Asia Minor.
- BUT even more dangerous than the attack from the world was the deterioration and corruption of the faith of the Christians from within.
- BECAUSE they were such a struggling minority in a largely pagan world, they had become isolated and therefore susceptible to strange doctrines that exalted human disciplines, human wisdom, angels, and special ceremonies.
- HUMANITY became elevated in status and self-importance.....and Jesus was gradually squeezed out of His place of preeminence.
- PAUL begins the epistle with some of the great themes of faith, hope, grace, God's power....and Christ as Lord of creation, Lord of the Church, the image of the invisible God.
- THEN, in verse 21, he brings it down to the nitty gritty....to you and me, and writes,
"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior."
- THIS is what you and I used to be.
* Alienated from God.
* Enemies of God in our minds.
* As evidenced by our evil behavior.
- THIS is what we used to be.
- AND this is what our modern world is doing its best to deny.
- OUR world is doing its absolute best to establish that we are OK.
- AND they are screaming it at us louder and louder every day.
- FROM the filth that gets passed off as "normal" on talk TV....to the legislation being considered to normalize same sex marriages as a healthy "family."
- PRIME time TV programming has anesthetized us so that we are unable to judge sin....to distinguish right from wrong.
- BUT, regardless of what the media portray as the innate goodness of mankind....Paul says,
"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior."
- YOU were alienated from God......
* Cut off.
* That's because sin is a condition of the human heart apart from God, and it severs fellowship with God.
* Sin forces us to live without God in this world.
"......remember that at that time you were separate from Christ…without hope and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:12)
* Sin also estranges us from others.
- YOU were enemies of God......
* It is a condition of the human heart, apart from God.
* That is because, apart from God, the human heart is self-centered, and rebels at the thought of anyone else on the throne of our lives.
* And the result of this heart condition is rebellion against God and eventually evil behavior.
- THAT is the human condition....sin alienates us from God and makes us enemies of God.
- NO amount of counseling or therapy or self talk or self esteem manipulation will ever be able to remedy the guilt problem that we all have apart from God.
- AND that presents an incredible problem.
- GOD cannot tolerate sin because it is an offense to His holiness.
- WHEN the Bible talks about a holy God in relationship to sinful man it uses word pictures like;
* Isaiah sees God in a vision as high and lifted up.
* He is known as the Most High God.
* He is above all nations and powers and rulers.
* He is seated on a throne that is high and lifted up....surrounded by glory and majesty and totally inaccessible to sinners.
* "Don't come any closer"......He said to Moses at the burning bush or to Israel at Mount Sinai.
* God's presence rested in the Holy of Holies in the Temple....but only the High Priest could go in once a year.
* When Israel crossed the Jordan, they were told to stay 1,000 yards back from the ark.
* Uzzah got too close to the ark and was killed.
* God is far away from humanity....and we dare not approach too closely.
* God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all.
* Light is blinding.
* God lives in unapproachable light.
“God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,(16) who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” (I Timothy 6:15-16)
* Fire burns, consumes, purifies.
* Our God is consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).
- THESE are foreign concepts in today's Gospel message.
- WE prefer to think of man as basically pretty decent.
- WE prefer to think of God as easy going, gentle, kind, accommodating....tolerant of our weaknesses.
- BUT that is not the Bible's description of God's attitude towards sin.
- SIN is an offense, and attack on His holiness and His justice.
- THERE is a perpetual and irreconcilable chasm between sin and a holy God.
- IF God were to simply overlook or choose to ignore sin, He would have to deny Himself and would no longer be God.
- IN dealing with us He must be true to His character, to His nature.
- IF there were no divine reaction to sin, there would be no meaning to anything.......no order, no stability....the world would fall into chaos.
- GOD is bound to deal with sin in holy judgment.
- DO you see how dangerous it is when in this world you have this terrible human condition addressed either;
* By psychologists glossing over the basic problem with self-talk and self esteem jargon.
* Or, Oprah Winfrey telling us that sin is normal human behavior.
- AND all along, God's wrath hangs like Damocles' sword over every sinner…and because their condition is being hidden from them, so is the remedy.
- THE writer of Hebrews says that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.
- THAT is not capricious, arbitrary, unpredictable anger...It is God's steady, determined intolerance of that thing that offends His holiness....SIN.
iii. what jesus has done
- IF God cannot be like a lenient parent, and overlook sin....then what could possibly remedy the awful alienation between us and Him?
* What could bring us up to His lofty place?
* What could close the distance between us?
* What could prepare me for the Light of His presence?
- IF God's wrath on all sin is inevitable, then what hope is there for you and me who are His enemies because of our evil behavior?
- LOOK at Colossians 1:22,
"But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation...."
- GOD'S judgment on sin fell on Jesus, His only Son, when He took the sin of the whole world on Himself on the cross.
- HE died there on the cross under God's curse, for you and me.
- THAT is how seriously God takes the sin problem. It cost Him His Son's life.
- JUDGMENT for sin was forever absorbed by Christ’s death, His sinless sacrifice.
- LOOK at what Christ's death accomplishes!
* Once you were alienated, and an enemy of God.....now are reconciled to Him.
* Once your behavior was evil, and you were far off…now you are presented in His sight, holy.
* Once you who carried the stain and dirt of your past sin…now you are clean, without blemish.
* Once you were guilty as charged…now you are free from accusation.
- A RADICAL disease calls for a RADICAL remedy...and this is it.
- THERE is no other medicine for the sickness of mankind....for you and me.
iv. what you must do
- WE were enemies of God....but Jesus has reconciled us.
- AND that is great news!
- BUT verse 23 starts with one of the biggest two letter words in all of the Bible.
"(22)But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body.....(23) if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant."
- BY faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, we apply the only medicine for the broken, sinful human condition.
- HE was our substitute.
- WE started our new life by faith.....but there are conditions that Paul gives us....our responsibility for our new life.
1. We must continue in faith.....not slip into works, or our own righteousness, or back into sin.
2. We must stand established and firm....not running back to the world, or shaken by sin, or by our own failures.
- THERE is a hope held out to you by the Gospel.
- WHAT is that hope?
* That He that began the good work in us will complete it.
* That He has overcome the world.
* That we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus.
* That He will never leave us or forsake us.
* That He has gone to prepare a place for us that where He is there we will be also.
* That He is coming back for His own.
- SO, with that hope....we live by faith and overcome all the opposition and all the odds against us in this crazy world.
- THIS is the Gospel, says Paul, that has been heard and preached to every creature under heaven.
- THIS is no little religious theory.
- THIS is Life abundant and eternal.
- EMBRACE it and eternity is yours....in the presence of God, in a place that is so pure, so beautiful that we cannot imagine it now.
- REJECT is and there will be hell to pay.
- JESUS said,
“FOR God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(17)For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.(18)Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)