"LIBERATED FROM YOUR PAST"
(A Sermon from Colossians)
Westgate Chapel 7-23-06 Colossians 2:8-15
PROPOSITION: The powers of this dark world would hold you captive to the indictments of your past but in Christ those tyrants are disarmed and you have been liberated by the power of the resurrection that is alive in you.
- ONE of the most convincing proofs for the authenticity of Scripture is that the characters God uses as a canvas on which to paint a revelation of Himself are pretty normal men and women complete with their weaknesses.
- THE Bible is full of stories of men and women who dragged their past with them...like a ball and chain.
- ISAAC, an only child, apple of his mother's eye, spoiled, pampered. And as a result, not much back bone. He lived and died a wimp.
- JACOB was raised by his mother to be a deceiver...and that dishonesty plagued him and cost him dearly for most of his life.
- MOSES had a problem with his temper....from killing the Egyptian that was in a fight with an Israelite, to striking the rock for water when God had said just to talk to it. And it cost him his chance to lead Israel into the Promised Land.
- SAMUEL was raised by a permissive high priest, Eli, who let his sons run wild...and even after seeing God's judgment fall on Eli’s family he made the same mistakes with his own sons.
- PETER has a problem telling the truth under pressure...and even after the incident in Herod's courtyard it showed up again when he treated the Gentiles one way when he was alone with them and another when Jews were around.
- WHAT a tragedy to carry around with you, all of your life, the very things that weigh you down and keep you from being your best for God.
- BUT fact that those stories exist in the Bible doesn't mean that God intends for us to drag around the ball and chain of our past weaknesses and failures for the rest of our lives.
- JACOB is one example of a man of God who, towards the end of his life, got so desperate to be free of his deceitful past that he wrestled with the angel of the Lord until the breakthrough came.....and got his thigh out of joint in the process and limped the rest of his life but he was a changed man.
- PETER really was a fundamentally changed man after Pentecost….in spite of the problem he had in Galatia.
- BUT many of us as believers, are still struggling with sins that were woven into our lives from way back....and we don't know how to get free.
- SOME have just given up on the faith because they got tired of the battle.
- SOME of us have just accommodated themselves to the sin, and live a covert lifestyle so as to minimize the embarrassment.
- SOME have actually come to the place where they condone their sin....and have just knitted an attractive cover for the ball and chain to camouflage it.
- SOME have turned to the wisdom of the world for answers.
* We have been told that we just need to adjust our beliefs...so that we have more “realistic” expectations of ourselves.
* We have been told that we just need to love ourselves more...to improve our self-esteem.
* We are told that our problems are a result of our being victimized some where in our lives....and that it will be years of therapy before the past, dissected in painful detail, can be healed.....and that in the mean time there is no freedom from that ball and chain.
- THIS is what the believers in the Greek city of Colosse were being told.
- SO let’s listen to Paul's response to them in Colossians 2:8.
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
- WHAT is this verse talking about?
- IT is talking about the spiritual forces of darkness in this world that confront us every day with the deceptive philosophies of man.....and present them as the solution to the ball and chain of our past.
- THESE verses are a call to vigilance. Be watchful! Be on the alert!
- DON'T let some book (I’m OK, You’re OK) or some late night TV program, or tape, or talk show guest take you captive just because what is said is so convincing, and seems to make sense.
- BE on your guard, says Paul, or you will be taken captive by some idea or philosophy that sounds sophisticated and well-researched....but does not line up with God's Word.
* It world’s solutions are empty, says Paul.
* Empty of truth.
* Empty of power because the dunamis of the Gospel of Jesus is missing.
* Empty of hope because they lead away from the light of God's presence.
* It is deceptive, says Paul, because it is attractive and seduces the mind with flattery....and appeals to the intellect or the ego.
* It is misdirection.
- IF you follow these empty and deceptive traditions and philosophies of man to solve your personal problems...you will actually end up in a worse captivity than at first (eg. Methadone treatment).
- WHAT is behind this deception?
- PAUL calls it the "elementary principles of the world."
- IT is the same phrase he uses in Galatians 4:8,
“However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” (Galatians 4:8)
- PAUL is talking about the powers of darkness....which operate in the spiritual realm influencing the philosophies of the world.
- THESE are the powers of darkness that influence:
* What the world believes about overcoming your past.
* What the world believes about how significance is achieved.
* What the world believes about right and wrong.
* What the world believes about the basis of self-esteem.
* About how to find happiness....or what it even is.
* About power and control.
- THE apostle Paul calls us to be on the alert.
- THE influence of these philosophies on our lives is no small matter.
- THE result of negligence is captivity.
ii. remember your POSITION
- WELL, in Colossians 2:8 Paul has told us where NOT to go to be delivered from the weaknesses of our human nature.
- AND in the next seven verses he gives us a fail-safe formula for being LIBERATED FROM OUR PAST.
- IF Isaac had followed this Biblical formula...he would not have been a wimp all of his life.
- IF Moses had followed this formula...he might have made it into the Promised Land.
- SAMSON would not have died a blind man in a Philistine Jamboree.
- THERE are three things that Paul tells the Colossians to remember…in order to be freed from their past.
- THE first is in verses 9-10.
- REMEMBER your position.
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority…” (Colossians 2:9-10)
- WHAT is your position? In Christ.
- WHAT is the benefit of that position? The fullness and authority of God.
- THIS is much more than the useless self-talk that fills so much self-help literature today.
- BECAUSE the world's self-talk has nothing to draw from other than what is already in your broken humanity...and after you have told yourself that you are OK...what has really changed? Nothing!
- NO, this verse is a faith reminder that there is a new YOU inside Christ, a new creation when you were born again by the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ.
- THAT is not wishful thinking....or "I hope I am different."
- IT is a living reality promised by God Himself.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (II Corinthians 5:17)
- AND now that you are a new person in Christ, you are now filled with the fullness of God, since Christ is the fullness of God and He lives in you now by the Holy Spirit.
- AND since Jesus is the head over every power and authority....and you have been given His fullness....guess what that gives you? Power and authority over the powers of darkness.
- NO wonder James 4:7 says,
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
- REMEMBER your position.
- YOU are in Christ and are therefore full of the fullness of God.
- NOW, that is not a mind game you have to play, or psyche yourself up for.
- IT is a fact of your relationship with Christ.
- IT is not a feeling, a personality type, or the volume at which you pray.
- IT is your legal position in Christ.
- STUDY it in the Word. Accept it by faith. Meditate on it as you live in daily relationship with Christ.
- REMEMBER your position.
- WHEN you do, then the excuses that we all use for why we are defeated look pale by comparison.
* My parents never affirmed me. But I am filled with the fullness of Christ.
* I have been rejected all of my life. But I am filled with the fullness of Christ.
* I have been defeated by alcohol for the past twenty years. But I am filled with the fullness of Christ.
- REMEMBER your position and that old ball and chain can no longer defeat you.
iii. remember your baptism
- HERE is the next "Remember." Remember your baptism.
- I TRUST your baptism was a believer's baptism, following repentance and faith in Christ.
- PAUL says, when you find yourself dragging that ball and chain from your past behind you....remember your baptism.
- LET'S read Colossians 2:11-12,
“…and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11-12)
- NOT only are you in Christ, filled with the fullness of God....but your old sinful nature was buried with Him and you have been raised with Him to live in the same power that raised Christ from the dead.
- THAT is what your water baptism symbolized.
- WHEN you received Jesus as Savior and Lord in your life;
* You received His death. You entered into His death by faith. Your old sinful nature died with Him on the cross.
* So, when you went down into the water in believer's baptism.....that was a physical remembrance of your sinful nature's death and burial.
* So SIN is no longer your nature. SIN is no longer who you are. That part of you is dead and in the grave....buried with Christ.
* There is a clear break from your past. Jesus has broken you clear of your past.
* But, these verses say that your baptism was about something else.
* When you came up out of the water....that was a physical remembrance that your new nature has been raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him (Jesus) from the dead."
* So, you have a new nature that not only loves to do righteousness....BUT HAS THE RESURRECTION POWER TO DO RIGHTEOUSNESS.
- YOU are not a slave to your past or your parent's past or anybody else's' past.
- AND the power to be free is activated by faith in the power of God.
- IF through faith in Jesus you are born again....that ball and chain that haunts you is a lie from Satan. It is mirage, and illusion from the enemy of your soul.
- THAT part of you died and was buried.
- AND the new you is born again in resurrection power.
* That power energizes believers and maintains new life in them....through faith in Jesus.
- SO, the next time you hear the chain rattle....remember your baptism.
iV. remember your liberation
- HERE is the last "remember."
- REMEMBER your liberation.
- HAVE you ever seen those WWII movies where the prisoners of war are all emaciated, and sick and dying under the boot of the oppressor…then one of them hears the drone of hundreds of Allied Bombers approaching.
- LIBERATION day is coming.
- FIRST the bombs....that blast enemy positions.
- GUARD towers crash to the ground and gun emplacements explode.
- THEN low-level Allied fighter planes keep enemy soldiers pinned down in their fox holes while prisoners of war run as fast as they can through gaping holes in the barb wire.
- THEN the next wave of planes drop Allied paratroopers...who take out the rest of the enemy positions and escort the prisoners of war to the nearest airfield from which they are flown home.
- LIBERATION day!
- LISTEN to Paul in Colossians 2:13-15,
“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
- THOSE powers of darkness that held you captive to sin in the past and have been holding up the indictment against you.....have been subjugated by Christ on the cross.
- YOU have been released from the guilt and the power of sin.
- THE powers of darkness have been stripped of their weapons and armor by Christ Himself.
- HE turned the tables on them when He died and rose again.
- AND now He holds them up in the air, displaying their helplessness for the whole universe to see.
- YOU have been liberated!
- HOW foolish to ever pay tribute to their vanquished powers.
- APART from Christ's victory, however, we are helpless victims of their power.
- WE are at the mercy of our world that says we are hopeless in the grip of our past.
* Once a victim of inner city poverty...always a victim needing assistance from the world.
* Once a victim of any kind of discrimination...always needing affirmation and restitution.
* Once traumatized by some tragedy...always in the grip of its nightmare memories and fears.
* Once ensnared by some compulsive behavior...always just a step away from its trap.
- AND the Gospel says, "NO! It is all a lie designed to keep you intimidated and in captivity."
- REMEMBER your liberation.
- REMEMBER your position.....in Christ and therefore filled with the fullness of God.
- REMEMBER your baptism....dead to sin, alive to Christ.
- REMEMBER your liberation....Christ made a public spectacle of your enemy. You are free.
- THERE is only one message of hope for modern man in his frustration and despair....and it is the message that Paul wrote to the Colossians.
- IT is Jesus Christ , crucified and risen.
- HE is Lord of all...the fullness of God.
- ALL forces of the universe are subject to Him.
- SO, to be united with Him, makes you more than a conqueror.
- CUT the chain and leave the ball behind this morning.
- CHOSE truth over the lies of the world.