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The New Life

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The New Life:

Colossians 3:1-4

Introduction

There are all sorts of things that grab our attention.  They cause us to focus on them, think on them, desire them and so forth. 

            Some things are designed to entice us: Billboards, TV commercials, radio broadcasts—entice us to buy or desire certain items.

            Some things are designed to warn us: Street signs—STOP, YEILD, R X R; sirens—Police, Fire, Tornado.

            Such things are designed to focus our attention.  Proper focus is essential.  Without it, we can veer off course.

  • A ship with a faulty compass will crash on the rocks.
  • A pilot with blurring vision will crash his plane.
  • A Christian w/o focus will fall into dangerous snares

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thes 4:3).

In order to lead a sanctified, holy life that is pleasing to God our attention must be on the things of God.  In order to stand against the lustful desires of this world, the believer needs to focus on Christ.  In order to fully enjoy the peace and love and joy that can only be found in Jesus Christ, the believer must look to the Source, Jesus Himself.

In the new life of the Christian, four essential truths keep us grounded and our attention where it should be, on Christ: His power, His provision, His possession, and His promise.

           

I.                    We have Christ’s Power (v.1)

Paul begins with an “if…them” expression which is crucial to the text.  We might think that an “if” statement would suggest uncertainty on Paul’s part but it does not.  He does not mean that a person who is a believer may or may not be raised up.  On the contrary, he assets that it is because they, already being believers, have been raised up with Christ.”

           

Have you ever said to someone: If you go to the store, get me such and such.  We often mean “when” or “since” This is what Paul is saying: Since you have been raised up with Christ.  He does this because he is going to tell us what ought to be true of us as followers of Christ.

To be “ raised up with Christ” is to be co-resurrected with Christ.  Since Christ rose from the grave, so shall we.  But more than this, we are even now living in that resurrection power.

John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”

Rom 6:4  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Col 2:12 we were “raised up with Him through faith in the working of God”

It is by the power and authority of Christ that we are raised up.  Notice that it is with Christ. We are only raised because Christ is raised.  We have received His power

Question: What should be true of the follower of Christ?

           

In response to the ‘if” statement mentioned above, there are three actions that we should take hold of; three tasks that should grab and focus our attention.  These things involve what we focus our attention on.  As followers of Jesus Christ, being raised by His power, we should be directed in specific ways.

Set our hearts on the things of God (v.1)

Paul uses the phrase “keep seeking;” the Gk zeteo, can be translated—seek, search for, investigate, study, consider

The word “heart” actually is not in the original Greek.  But the idea behind seeking is a persons conduct, his or her actions; in other words, one’s heart. This is why the translators of the NIV use “set your hearts,” because it is a matter of the heart that Paul is addressing in the first part of this verse.

In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that our hearts should be focused on the things of God and not on the things of this present world.

Matt 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”

Matt 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”

In affect, what our Lord is saying is that we are to be a people who have a spiritual appetite for the things of God.  Christ is concerned about our inner motivations, inward desires; the secret longings within our hearts.

 

Set our minds on the things of God (v.2a)

Paul uses the phrase “set your mind;” the Gk phroneo, can be translated—think, reflect, set one’s mind on

 

Like the appeal above to the heart, Paul now takes it a step further and addresses the inner workings of the believer.  Before a person can act appropriately, that person must think appropriately.  The two go together. 

To illustrate this point, think of a set of railroad tracks.  Heat and mind, thought and action, they are the two rails on that track.  They are by all means distinguishable from each other but are completely inseparable.

I think this is why the translators of the Kings James chose to translate verse 2 like this “Set your affections on things above” (emphasis added).  That which we think highly of, we will then act on.  So if our thoughts are on Christ, then also our actions will reflect it.

Set our hearts and minds are against the things of this world (v.2b)

Notice the contrast here.  So that there is no doubt where our focus should be, Paul says think and act accordingly with your whole being on the things of God.  The things of this world draw our attention away from Christ. As believers in Christ, we need nothing more than Christ.  We need no earthly philosophy, legalism, asceticism, mystical experiences—none of these will lead us to a full understanding of what it means to be a Christian.  In fact, they will draw our attention away from the source and power of our salvation—Jesus Christ.

In verse 1, we see that Paul says that heaven “the things above” is “where Christ is.”  It would be impossible for us as believers to think and act appropriately if we did not have a God who had the power to give us the strength to do it.  When Christ completed the work of atonement, He ascended into heaven, and as Col 3:1 tells us, He is “seated at the right hand of God.”  Christ’s work is completed.

Since every believer has received the privilege of being raised up whit Christ, which only comes by His power, so too, are all believers strengthened in this present age by that same power, Christ.  We have to keep in mind that Christ created all things and He sustains all things.  Therefore, by that power He enables us to think and act according to His princliples.

It is so tempting when we hear co-workers, family members, people we meet on the street, to engage in their kind of thinking and act the way they do.  No one wants to be left out of a discussion.  So how do we avoid falling into gossip, swapping dirty jokes, indulging in small indiscretions, we put on the mind and heart of Christ!

II.                 We have Christ’s Provision (v.3a)

Secondly, Paul tells in the first part of verse 3 “you died.” What does it mean that I died?  I am walking around, breathing, talking, moving…so how can I be dead?  Very simple, we are dead to the “things that are on earth.”  The things on earth as we saw above are opposed to the things of God.  So naturally, if the believer has Christ’s power to move away from that kind of thing there must be arson for it.

Just as Christ work of atonement has raised us up to a new life in Christ, it put to death the old one.  We were “dead in our transgressions and sins” but now we are “dead” that way of life!  He died so that we could love!

The provision that Christ gives us is His grace.  Let’s think about grace or a moment.  It is a free gift.  Literally, grace (Gk charis) means unmerited favor.  We did nothing to earn it.  We cannot earn it; we cannot lose it; we cannot do anything to pay it back!

Imagine you could something good for God.  Any good that we could do could never be enough to pay God back for what He has given us.  It would be like offering a few pennies to pay the nation debt.

In response to Christ’s provision what should we do?  Offer up our praise and adoration to Him.  We died.  That is now a fact in our lives.  Because we died, we owe Him everything since it was based on anything that we could do to earn that death.

In his commentary on t1 Corinthians, John MacArthur writes:

We owe God our highest love, our deepest devotion, and our greatest service as expressions of our gratitude and because all we have and are belong to Him—but not because these are able in the least way to buy or repay His gift of love and mercy to us. We love Him; but we are only able to love Him because first “He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). We owe Him everything out of gratitude; we owe Him nothing out of obligation.[1]

III.               We are Christ’s possession (v.3b)

We now come to the third point wanted to emphasize to the Colossian believers.  Their lives are now “hidden with Christ in God.”  They died to the old life and the life they now live has its source in Chris Jesus.  He is the author and perfecter of our faith.  So what does it men that our lives are “hidden with Christ?”

This expression can be understood in a number of ways, but for the sake of time I will just mention two.  First of all the believes now has an intimate knowledge of His Lord.  Charles H. Spurgeon shares that even though Christ is not physically present with believers, He is nonetheless spiritually present. I love the way Spurgeon puts it:

It is a distinguishing mark of a true follower of Jesus that he sees his Lord and Master when he is not to be seen by the bodily eye; he sees him intelligently and spiritually; he knows his Lord, discerns his character, apprehends him by faith, gazes upon him with admiration, and looks to him for all he needs.[2]

Secondly, to be hidden with Christ means that our life is now bound up with His.  The life we now live, we do not live to ourselves, we live it to God in Christ Jesus.  When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we gave up our old life in exchange for a new one.  The Bible makes it clear that we are no longer our own.  We are now Christ’s possession.  We were bought with a price—Christ’s blood.

Paul says over and over again in his letter that we are now slaves of Christ Jesus.  In the Old Testament we see a beautiful picture of what it means to belong to Christ.  The Old Testament servant served his master for seven years and at the end of the time of service, was released.  When it was time to release the servant, the servant could choose to the masters slave for the rest of his life.  If he loved his master and wanted to remain with him, the master would take an awl and pierce the servant’s earlobe on the doorpost of the home.  This left both a mark on the servant and a mark on the master.  For the servant, he had a pierced ear.  For the master, he had a pierced doorpost.  This act symbolized that the servant was now in the possession of the master forever.  The servant would now depend upon the master for all of his needs.

As believers, we are now no longer our own.  When we accepted Jesus, we said, “You are my Master.  I will be your slave forever.”  We have been pierced through by Christ so that we are now His forever.

The words to a wonderful hymn are especially applicable.

 

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.[3]

But as wee look at how most of us live our lives, we have to say that we do not live as though we owe it all to Christ.  We forget that we are Christ’s possession and our own.  We want to live our lives by our own set of rules and do what we is pleasing to ourselves.

When I go to a restaurant, I like to read the advertisements that they post.  On one particular occasion I went to Burger King and on my drink cup I found these words written:

This cup makes a statement about you. It says, “Hey, look at me.  I’m an ambitious yet responsible person.”  You could have gone larger, but you didn’t.  You could have gone smaller, but again, you deferred.  No, you know exactly what you want in life, nothing more, nothing less.  Its good to have things

When I go to a restaurant, I like to read the advertisements that they post.  On one particular occasion I went to Burger King and on my drink cup I found these words written:

This cup makes a statement about you. It says, “Hey, look at me.  I’m an ambitious yet responsible person.”  You could have gone larger, but you didn’t.  You could have gone smaller, but again, you deferred.  No, you know exactly what you want in life, nothing more, nothing less.  Its good to have things your way. [emphasis added]

Are we more interested in having things our way or Christ’s way?  He possesses us.  We do not possess Christ.  What would our lives be like as faithful, obedient believers if we were live each day as to the glory and honor of Christ, knowing full well that we do so as His cherished possessions?

IV.              We have Christ’s Promise (v.4)

Paul turns to the final end of believers in verse 4.  He points out the hope that believers have in Christ.  “When Christ…is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him.”  That statement is not a superficial longing or potential hope in something that may or many not happen.  It is a guarantee.  We will see Christ in His glory. 

As Paul points out, Christ is our life; it is He “who is our life.”  Chris is the source of our eternal life.  That work that He began in us, He will bring it to completion.  When Christ returns bodily, He will bring His saints home to be with Him forever.

How long is forever?  How fare does it extend?  Think about this, if you start walking east, you will continue walking east; you will never run into west.  The same goes if you start walking west, you will never find east.  The Bible says that Christ has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west.  The same is also true of eternity, it cannot be measured.  It never end!

Having this assurance in ourselves is a great benefit to the believer.  We have no need to be afraid of bodily death any longer.  Death has lost its sting.   Jesus told his disciples “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19b).

Charles H. Spurgeon again has some helpful and powerful words for us:

We are united to Christ this day by bands of spiritual life which neither things present nor things to come can separate. Our union to Jesus is eternal. . . Your soul may he so assailed that it shall seem as if you could not keep your hold on Christ, but Christ shall keep his hold on you.[4]

No matter what we encounter in this life, we have that full assurance in Christ, we will see Him face to face.  When we do, it will be in His “glory.”   We will see His glory, we will be able to praise Him in Him in His glory; we will  be able to  share in His glory. 

What rich blessings we have in Christ; they are awesome and wonderful.  We have seen that as believers in Christ, we have so much that comes straight from Him.  We have His power to live out our lives, bringing our thoughts and actions into conformity to His kingdom.  We have His provision, not on the basis of anything we have done.  It is entirely due to His sovereign, saving grace.  We are His possessions, not our own any longer.  Our lives are bound up with His, we are hidden in Him.  Finally, we have His promise, eternal life.  We have that full assurance in ourselves that one day we will stand, unashamed before our Lord in His glory.  Such thought should take us to the highest points of praise and adoration for what He has done for us.  Like the words of the hymn which read:

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His Voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thro’ Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.[5]

Amen!


----

[1]John MacArthur, 1 Corinthians, Includes Indexes. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996, c1984), 13.

[2]Charles H. Spurgeon, vol. 17, Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 17, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Spurgeon's Sermons (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998).

[3]Logos Hymnal, 1st edition. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).

[4]Charles H. Spurgeon, vol. 17, Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 17, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Spurgeon's Sermons (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998).

[5]Logos Hymnal, 1st edition. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).

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