Saturday, September 17, 2022

Commitment to Christ

Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Apostle Paul opens the third chapter of Colossians with a challenge to the Church’s faith-walk. Similar to 2 Corinthians 6:17, it is a call for believers to separate themselves from their old worldly habits and the “comfort zones” of their sins. “Old habits die hard” is a cliché that describes the human condition, our propensity to sin. If we are born again, then the old life is dead, and Jesus gifts us with a second chance of living for His righteousness.

Solomon’s words “there is no new thing under the sun,” ring true because sin has been mankind’s downfall ever since Eve met a serpent in the Garden. But let’s remember that God hold all knowledge, and mankind’s fall from grace, and expulsion from the garden was not a surprise to Him.

There is another truth however, that Jesus loves us, and can change our lives. It’s like a practicum of John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

From death to eternal life is a powerful change! This is what a relationship with Jesus will do for whosoever. There are no special qualifiers, or criteria to live up to. Eternal life is available to all, if they would only believe on Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to grow and deepen that relationship. And His story as laid out in the Gospels continues to change lives. It is the simple plan of salvation. Just believe in Him. He will do the rest.

His compassion for us will make us compassionate towards others and we will find opportunities to reach out to those in any kind of need. Empathy develops as we see our “neighbors” as all those around us on earth, even strangers that we’ve never met. The good Samaritan parable provides such an example.

One verse stands out considering all these things:

“We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
All of us.

Today's Audio Message:
Colossians 3:1-14 - "Commitment to Christ"


Last week, we ended chapter two with Paul asking the Colossian believers, “If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why…are you subject to ordinances?” 
Denying oneself (Colossians 2:21) does not lead to greater holiness and approval from God, our right standing with God is found in Christ alone. Paul says you died with Christ to the principles of this world. Why are you still submitting to its rules as though you belonged to it? We have found the answer to sins problem, it is not found in this world, in ourselves, in our works, but rather in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Colossians 3 reminds us that we have been raised with Christ so we should set our hearts on things above. We died with Christ to the things of this world. We are instructed to mortify or put to death those things, along with our old nature.  And in its place, we are to put on the new man (verse 10).  Paul further explains what this means in Ephesians 4:24; Romans 13:14; 2 Corinthians 5:17. In Christ, we are being renewed in the knowledge and image of our Creator. Paul then gives practical ways in how to live this out.

Beginning in chapter 3, Paul reminds the believers in Colossae that God having raised us to new life in Christ Jesus, we now must walk in that newness of life through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that we can do the will of God. 

Paul quickly reminds us to seek those things which are above, we are actively making a conscious decision about the way we think, and those things we are seeking.  Not only that, we are also to, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" - Colossians 3:2.   Our affection, or our undivided attention and love should be centered on the things above, not the things of this earth. What is your mind set on? What is your affection set on? Is Christ your life? 

(See also:  Mark 8:33; Philippians 2:5; Philippians 3:19; Romans 8:5-8)

2 Corinthians 5:17 - “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.”

As believers in Christ, we need to make a decision to walk in His ways. We need to decide where our minds will and will not go. These are conscious decisions that we make daily, as temptations come, we must choose to crucify the flesh and obey the Lord.

What are those “things above?” Things above simply means God’s ways.  God has given us His Word, which will sanctify us that we might walk in His truth. 

In verse3 Paul says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” This refers to our spiritual birth, our new birth in Christ, symbolized by our baptism (Colossians 2:12). When we were buried with Christ, we were also raised with Him. This is not figurative language, Paul is speaking of a
literal change, spiritual changes that took place in us when we repented and received Christ as Lord and Savior.

Galatians 2:20 - “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  Because of this, our lives are “hid with Christ in God.”

In Christ we are no longer of this world, but a part of His kingdom. Paul says in Ephesians 2:19, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” We do not belong to this world, but another Philippians 3:20 tells us, “But our citizenship is in heaven…” The sooner we grasp this the better. Our lives ought to be reflecting our citizenship in heaven and not this world. 

Our identity is in Christ - NOW! Our identity is not in our old life, not in those things that are left behind. Therefore, we are to mortify the flesh. Mortify means - put it to death. Rid yourselves of the things of the flesh. As we actively seek the Lord's ways and apply those ways to our lives, the Holy Spirit works in us, enabling us and changing us from the inside out. 

Paul goes on to list several sinful behaviors of the old life:
  • Fornication, or sexual immorality in all its forms.
  • Uncleanness, or impurity - the condition of being defiled morally.
  • Inordinate affection or “lust” - vile affections
  • Evil concupiscence or “evil desires” - a desire for things that are forbidden, or inordinate.
  • Covetousness or “greed” - the inappropriate desire for money which God calls idolatry.
Notice that most of these things deal with sexual immorality.  Any culture that turns their back on God becomes more depraved.  See Romans 1:19-32.  In verse 6, Paul warns that God’s wrath is upon the children of disobedience.

All these things are the outward manifestations of a sinful heart. But now we are dead to sin, alive in Christ, and as believers we must still deal with the attitudes of our hearts. We are to put off; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy filthy communication out of our mouths and lying.

And now we are to put on the new man, after receiving new life by believing in Christ, we are being renewed, and transformed and are growing in the grace of God. 'As believers, part of this new life requires putting on Christlike characteristics, especially love. We are to actively put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience forgiveness, and love. If we are focused on fellowship with Christ, then putting on these characteristics is our goal and our joy.

So, as Paul exhorts us to be heavenly minded.  "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith..."  (Hebrews 12:2), he presents the principles for living as Christ's followers:
  • Set your heart on things above - Colossians 3:2.
  • Set your mind on things above - Colossians 3:1.
  • Take off the old deeds of the flesh, including the attitudes of our hearts - Colossians 3:3-4.
  • Put off the old man - Colossians 3:5-10.
  • Put on the new man, clothing yourselves with Christian virtues, especially love - Colossians 3:12-15.

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