Overcoming Callousness in a Christian Life – Walk in Obedience
Overcoming Callousness in a Christian Life – Walk in Obedience
Introduction: The letter to the Colossians was written to combat the heresy of Gnosticism. A combination of paganism, secular philosophy, and Christian doctrine, Gnosticism denies that Christ is God and that salvation comes through the person accepting Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul emphasizes the deity of Christ and the necessity of His sacrificial death on the cross for sin of mankind.
Quite naturally Paul who counseled all the Churches could not keep quiet. Someone had to be sent to Colossae. Refuting the diversionary arguments Paul produced a magnificent epistle to strengthen the faith of the Christians. He actually dictated this letter to a secretary, but sadly, we do not know who this secretary was. Paul teaches us through each of his epistles driven by the spirit of God, you need to take your Christian lives seriously and you need to consider the seriousness of the Church, as it is the body of Christ and anyone who creates disruption in the body of Christ should be admonished seriously.
The entire epistle concentrates on The Pre-Eminence of Christ, the author teaches us the superiority of Jesus Christ in excellence over all, and Paul handles this subject with great thoughts in the first and second chapters of the epistle. “He is the Head of the Body, the Church,” he declares. And Christ has caused man to be reconciled to God in all things “by making peace through His blood shed on earth,” (Col.1:20) Apostle Paul brings to our attention now the significance of the understanding the superiority of Jesus Christ over everything or the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ in our lives as Christian. Making it even simpler how does one identify or how can we portray this superiority of Jesus Christ in our lives? Learning how to avoid a callous Christian life and walking in obedience to God. When we say, we have Jesus in our lives, it important that we not only confess the faith we hold but we show the response of our faith in obedience.
Before I go further I would like to point the significance of understanding the topic of the sermon tonight, Colossians is about the pre-eminence of Christ, and now we need to understand the significance of why it is important to overcome a life of callousness in a Christian life and to walk in obedience. Callousness is the attitude about being insensitivity or feeling no emotions – in connection with our Christian lives as we portray the preeminence of Christ we need to live a avoiding this attitude of callousness. We as believers we need to live a life by being sensitive to sin and proclaim the holiness of God, by walking in obedience.
The problems we face in our Christian lives, is not because we don’t have the word of God; no sermons; the major problem is as we grow we become callous. Mat 13:15 - For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.
Apostle Paul addresses this situation to the believers in Colosse, and they need all need to work together to overcome, and we are going to look at Col 3:1-17, in next few minutes.
For our understanding, I place a small outline, in the next 17 verses, to understand why and how to overcome callousness:
Verses 1-4 – Looking above to Christ matters
Verses 5-11 – Believers identify your problems
Verses 12-17 – Strategies to live each day
VERSES 1-4 LOOKING ABOVE TO CHRIST MATTERS
Paul starts by teaching us the importance of Christian behavior by putting away our Old Character, and after teaching about the superiority of Christ Ap Paul, asks to submit to the superiority of Christ. So we should change our moral and ethical behavior by letting Christ live within us, so that Christ can shape our lives.
Chapter 3:1-4 seek those things means strive everyday by putting your day to day priorities into your daily practice. We need specific goals for our Christian lives, by concentrating our attention on the eternal matters, rather than temporal, Apostle Paul teaches us believers, you as Christians need to invest your Christian lives by looking above. (Illustration RICH MAN AND OWNERSHIP)This is your first step in submission to superiority of Christ, setting priorities and goals for heavenly things.
As we progress, Paul emphasizes here by saying that you believers you need to have little desire for improper worldly pleasures. Paul teaches set your mind on things above means to look at life from the perspective of God and to seek what God desires. This is the solution for escaping from the desire of material life, because even when there are problems we need to set our minds on above which means focus on Christ. Real study of the scriptures will only help to live your lives through Jesus Christ in harmony. So we will have the power to break free from our obsessions and empty religiosity(faith without reflections) When we come down to verse 3 and 4, we see the reward Paul states on how we benefit our lives as Christians. Paul defines about the hope of our Christian life. Our work and efforts don’t earn our salvations but they are the results of our salvation. The author urges the readers to make sure of your understanding of your salvation, and live each day for Christ. Now we know the power of Christ and also we have the hope for the future. The Apostle now encourages the readers, and believers to start acting in order to prepare for the return of Christ. We see this in the next few verses, as Paul teaches us on how we need to prepare our Christian lives. i.e. by identifying and learning strategies.
Verses 5-11 – Believers identify your problems
In verse 5 - 7, Apostle Paul addresses on some of the problems that he learned that the believers are facing and he addresses on the sins of the people. These sins are creating havoc in the lives of the people and this can disrupt the unity and harmony of the church. Paul teaches here a matter of significance that in the church of God; people are not related by blood but by the faith in Christ, so if anyone sins or does wrong that person needs to be admonished seriously. But as we progress further in the later verses which we will look shortly, we see that even we admonish or rebuke we need to make we correct with an attitude of receiving.
Paul points out the sins of believers and teaches here that believers identify your sins among you and put them away as the imagery of out to death those sins. Paul address on three problems and this is indeed a great lesson for all of us:
Problem #1 – Serious admonishments on the topic of sex and sexual perversion. Sex is a good thing but only within the boundaries of marriage but perversion is bad and this is sin that is what Paul teaches us here perversion like what fornication outside the bounds of marriage such as adultery, living relationships, and many heinous acts of intercourse Paul the Apostle admonishes the sins of people. As we progress to verse 6 and 7, Paul teaches that how the believers are inviting God’s wrath in carrying out such wickedness. Paul here reminds the believers of the anger of God to sin and sinners, and gives them a reminder of their early lives as sinners. In connection with God’s anger may I turn you quick attention to Ps 2:6 – where the psalmist points out God abhors sinful men. When believers are tempted to sin, tonight I along with the psalmist and Ap PAUL bring to your attention how God abhors sin and sinful men.
As Paul addresses here the problem Paul also teaches here how they need to reprimand and improve their Christian lives in verse 8 – Paul says PUT OFF – RID off. Paul here brings to our attention to learn to live our lives by appealing to our commitment to Christ as believers. When we trust Christ, we need to acknowledge His preeminence, His superiority so we need to live each day by putting out sin and appealing to God by asking – God I cannot pursue my life alone, I am just a man in weakness and I need help to move each day in holiness and purity. Paul urges here the believers to stay true to your confession of faith as Christians, by putting on the new nature given by Christ guided by the Holy Spirit.
As we move forward to verses 9-10, we see Ap Paul addressing to other serious sins and problems in the church and he puts more emphasis on it.
Problem #2 – Lying. Lying doesn’t help anyone it disrupts unity by destroying trust; tears down relationship creates havocs which causes conflicts in churches. Paul teaches us that Lying is sin – but there is also another aspect of this sin and that is backbiting, spreading rumors or gossiping. How this affects the church? Imagine the picture of a triangle
When a person does this sin – he or she speaks first to one person the first point in a triangle; and this is carried forward from one person to another the second point in a triangle, and the third point in the triangle is the person who gets hurt. Paul pushes this very clearly by telling to all the readers that believers who try to spread lies/ rumors/ gossips they create no harmony but disrupts unity. Paul here teaches what God wanted Colossian believers and tonight this is what God speaks to us, we need to learn to maintain purity by cleansing our lives and preserving both physically and verbally from SIN. Paul makes a clear remark here that in the Kingdom of God there is no place for sin and whoever sins Paul teaches to all of us and also tonight treat sin as sin and take no compromise. When you treat sin with compromise we may win the hearts and praises of people around for a short time but we invite the anger of God. But when you treat sins as sin with the perspective how God looks at sin we earn the favor of God in our lives.
Progressing further to verses 10 and 11 Paul puts a straightforward statement .i.e. a call for action. If you are a Christian prove it by taking the right step and not by just philanthropy services but mainly by holding on to the gospel. Because the works you carry out without the gospel is all in vain if we are not doing them based on the transformation of the gospel in our lives.
Paul reemphasizes again put on – this more efficiently stated in the Greek language as this is a strong imperative command. PUT off yourselves from immorality and evil practices by committing yourselves to what Christ has shown. Putting on new man – doesn’t happen overnight all of a sudden but this is a lifelong exercise, Paul teaches believers and even to us we need to avoid a life of dichotonomy.
Coming now to – Problem #3 – Discrimination in church – Paul addresses here another problem that church today faces and that is barriers like discrimination in churches – a Christian bible believing church should have no barriers like –
· Blue collar and white collar workers
· Social status and wealth
A church shouldn’t be defined by these standards but by the relationship in Christ. Shall we read in Eph 2:14-15, our Lord Jesus Christ broke all barriers and accepted all people who come to Him , so nothing should keep us from telling others about Christ or accepting other believers into our fellowship. Jesus Christ broke the man made barriers, so we need to learn to live in peace and harmony and this is possible of the thorough conviction of the gospel in the life of a believer. By the death of Christ we are united we who were strangers and aliens today we have access to God as we read in Eph 2:18-19. We are called to build bridges and not walls, when I say that also let me be very clear in telling we need to build bridges with clear distinctive believers based on God’s word and the biblical doctrines and not mere man made observations and culture.
Verses 12-17 – Strategies to live each day
1. Imitate Christ compassions forgiving attitude vv12-13
After problems, teaching the preeminence of Christ, how to treat sin. Paul teaches us now the significance of, when sin is admonished, correct the person in order to bring him or her back and not cast away from church. If the believer is unwilling to change from SIN, let me quote the words of KA Philip Sir, in connection with the discipling in church – Catch the ear of the person (the believer in sin) and throw him out. Examining the verse 13, we see the seriousness of forgiveness, the key to forgiveness is by remembering how much God has forgiven us. Realizing God’s love and forgiveness will help us to love, forgive and forget people who have wronged us. The Bible encourages us to leave our resentment (hatred) to God to take care by saying God this is my problem, and let God grant us the peace even when we become victims. Don’t quench/ finish our lives feeding on bitterness, learn to live in joy by enjoying and realizing the love of God.
2. Aiming for the love, peace of Christ to guide us and being grateful vv14-15
The virtues of mentioned in 12-13 Paul encourages us to develop in love and to live in peace. Christians are to live in peace; holding on to love, that doesn’t mean all our difference of opinion are eliminated, but the Bible teaches us to aim to work together. Now this is not a one way thing, it is a two way mutual understanding, based on their relationship and understanding of God and His commands. Paul points out to us in verse 15 using the language of athletics in Greek language – let the peace of Christ be RULING in our hearts, as we need to understand based on Phil 4:7 –
Peace is not in positive thinking, absence of conflict, good feelings – but knowing God is in control – subjugating to His authority – following the commands of God. This will help us to move forward even when there are inconsistencies in our lives, move forward in lives without grumblings but with gratitude. Paul also specifies the need of Christians to also be grateful in verse 15, and this is where I understand that only thankful people can worship God with a full heart as gratitude opens our heart to God’s peace and to live in love and harmony. True gratitude only comes on the basis of understanding the gospel – 2000 years ago God send His beloved son, Jesus who died, buried and rose again on the third day. This is my Savior who has provided me the greatest need of my life and to Him I am grateful.
3. Keep God’s word always with you Vv 16
Augustine the church father, says a Christian should have three things –
a. The Bible
b. The Hymn Book
c. The Notebook
Here we see the Ap Paul emphasis on the use of our Christian songs at worship, the significance of music. Secular music can’t help us or even the lyrics cannot grant us happiness but it is only the songs of recognizing the love of Christ and His provisions can provide us happiness.
4. Being the ambassadors of Christ vv 17
Paul concludes vv 17 by saying that live as ambassadors of Christ, projecting the superiority of Christ in our lives – doing all in the name of Christ. Your way of lives, matters, and let people see the superiority of Christ in your lives.
(Reemphasizing all said in concise)
May God’s name be glorified.