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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Christ, Who Is Your Life
Text:Colossians 3:1-11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ
 
Preached:05/03/2015
Added:2015-07-17
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


 

Pastor Ted Gray
05/03/2015 – a.m. 
 
Christ, Who Is Your Life”
Colossians 3:1-11

There are two realities that we don’t think about often enough as Christians. Maybe I should qualify that by saying I don’t think about these two realities enough. But I have an idea that you probably don't think about these two realities as often as you should either.

The first reality is that when Christ died on the cross of Calvary, we also in principle, died. And likewise, on the third day, when Christ arose victoriously from the dead, all those who believe in Him, also in principle, were raised to life.

Those two realities are brought up very matter of factly in the opening verses of Colossians 3. This chapter begins a new section in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. In the first two chapters he gave warnings against the false teachers by showing the sufficiency of Christ in all things. But now he moves on into the practical instruction of how we are to live as Christians. As he does so he stresses the importance of realizing that we have died with Christ and are risen with Him.

He has written about those realities earlier in this letter as well. Just last week, in Colossians 2:20 we read, since you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world why it is so you still belong to it, do you submit to its rules?

The theme of having died with Christ is a theme that we see in many New Testament letters. Consider the remarkable statement that Paul makes in Galatians 2:20 where he says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me...” Or his statement in Romans 6:6,  For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.

The same is true of the many passages telling us how just as Christ has been raised from the dead, so also we have been raised from death through faith in him. One of the most remarkable of all statements, one that would give us great encouragement if we thought about it more often is in Ephesians 2:4-7: But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up – not will raise, but has raised us up – with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

The reason why we should think about these two realities more often, – the reason why these realities should be central in our hearts and minds – is that when we truly see that our old sinful self was crucified with Christ on the cross and that we are now raised to eternal life through faith in Him, then we also see that Christ truly is our life, as verse 4 points out.  We come to the point of the Psalmist who, addressing the Lord, acknowledged, Whom have I in heaven but You? And being with You, I desire nothing on earth (Psalm 73:25). 

Such a realization, brought home by the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit, truly trans-forms our lives. The realities that we died with Christ and rose with Him and therefore Christ is now our life will profoundly change at least three things in your life and in mine.

Our Thought Life

First, that knowledge will change the way we think. Our thought life serves as a barometer, or temperature gauge, for our heart. But one of the tragedies of our culture today is that we don’t give ourselves much time to think. We have become, as a society, thoughtless. People who lived before the advent of television, the Internet, Facebook and all the social media, spent much more time in thought than people today. The person who spends all their time in social media or watching television is often numbed by the constant entertainment and information.

It is important as Christians to find time to set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (v 1). It is important as Christians to set aside time in our lives – quiet time – to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (v 2).

A good question for every Christian is to ask themself in the light of these opening verses of Colossians 3, “How much time do I really spend meditating – thinking about – the awesome reality that in principle I died with Christ and have been raised with Him, and that Christ is now my life? Am I so caught up in the things of the world that I don’t really have time to marvel at the centrality of Christ in my life?”

Our Priorities

When our thoughts are properly focused on our relationship to Christ, by faith in His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection, then our priorities will also be affected. The world puts before us a whole multitude of things that it says should be a priority in our lives. Our happiness. Our bank account. Our wardrobe.  Every Sunday newspaper is filled with ads. Behind most of the ads is the premise that without these things that are for sale at a deep discount, just this week only, our lives will be miserable.

We do need material things. When Jesus described how our heavenly Father cares for us, He said, “The pagans run after all these things – the things of this world, -  and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew  6:32-33). Jesus taught the importance of proper priorities, just as the apostle Paul does here in these verses.

You and I always have to look at our priorities: Do we get swept up in the rush of materialism? When we examine our thought life is our priority the relationship that we have with Jesus Christ by faith? Or is our priority shown by the things of this life which often consume so much of our time, our energy, and our money?

Again, verse 1 and 2 set before us both the proper thought process and the proper priorities for our lives:  If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, and that is a continual seeking, that is the sense of how the verb is used in the Greek text.  Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, – again, continually – not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Our Conduct

The third part of our life that will be affected by the knowledge that we died with Christ and are now raised with Him in principle, that Christ truly is our life, is our conduct. That is brought out clearly in verse 5 to 11 as well as the verses that follow through the end of this chapter and into chapter 4. If we are united with Christ through faith in Him, the Holy Spirit will sanctify us by giving us the desire to put to death our sinful nature.

The list of sins that are described in verse 5 are anything but pleasant: Put to death, therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. The same is true in verse 8 which says, But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Some people might ask, “Why would the apostle Paul warn Christians in a church like Colossae, or a church in Oak Lawn, against such obvious sins?  If he is writing to Christians, why does he even bring up this subject matter?” The reason why is that if we are honest with ourselves, honest with one another and honest with the Lord, we will acknowledge that every type of sin lives within us, that is, in our sinful nature.

Robert Murray McCheyne, the nineteenth century Scottish Presbyterian minister who is well known for his system of reading through the Bible in one year, made this confession in his diary, found after his death, for he died just before his 30th birthday. He had written: “I have begun to realize that the seeds of every known sin still linger in my heart.”

He was a well-known minister in his day. An extremely godly man in the view of everyone who knew him, yet he acknowledged, “I have begun to realize that the seeds of every known sin still linger in my heart.”

Even though we all struggle with sinful thoughts, with the wrong priorities, and often sin in our conduct, we usually try to mask our sin instead of acknowledging it. That is part of the reason why verse 9 tells us: Do not lie to each other. Instead of trying to hide behind a mask of self-righteousness we are to be honest about our sins and shortcomings in the same way that Robert Murray McCheyne was, because the seeds of every known sin still linger in the heart of every true believer.

The Heidelberg Catechism asks, in Question and Answer 114, “…Can those converted to God obey (God’s) commandments perfectly?”  It’s answer: “No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.”

 Christ and Adam

Even though we don’t come close to perfection in this life every true, sincere Christian will earnestly strive to put off the old sinful way of life that we have inherited from Adam. And every true, sincere Christian will strive to put on the new self that we are through faith in Christ. In the words of verse 9 and 10, Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

The old self represents everything that we are in the sinful nature with which we were born. That nature is the sinful nature of Adam within us. The new self is who we are in Christ. Christ is referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:45 as the last Adam. There is a world of difference between the first Adam and the last Adam, Christ Jesus.

The first Adam, even though he was living in Paradise, followed the temptation given by the evil one. The last Adam, even when He was famished in the desert, resisted temptation and never sinned. In the Garden of Eden, Adam did Satan’s will; in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus did His Father’s will. Adam plunged all humanity into sin, but the last Adam brought salvation from sin to all who believe in Him.

The list of differences between the first and last Adam is long and extensive. And in our lives we are to constantly strive to put off the old sinful self which we inherited from Adam, and put on the new self that we are in Christ Jesus.

One of the Puritans, Thomas Goodwin, pointed out: “There are but two men who are seen standing before God, Adam and Jesus Christ; and these two men have all other ..people hanging at their ..sides.” We are either still in Adam and judged guilty. Or by God’s grace, we are in Christ. If we are in Christ then we must live up to our profession. That involves putting to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. It involves putting off the old self and putting on the new.

This is done, not by our power or strength, but only by the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. It is only those who are born again by faith in Christ who begin to walk in the newness of life. Ebenezer Erskine, who was a gifted theologian of the 18th century once wrote, “The Christian mortifies sin because he is at peace with God. The legalist mortifies sin to try to be at peace with God.” Only those who are in Christ by true saving faith can, by the Holy Spirit’s enabling power, begin to put to death the old sinful nature.

But when we realize that by God’s grace and Holy Spirit’s power we have been crucified with Christ and raised with Him – so that Christ is our life – then we will recognize that we will appear with Christ in glory and Christ is all, and is in all.

Did you notice the contrast between verse 4 and verse 6?  Verse 4: When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. What a remarkable statement! What a joy to look forward to! We who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with saving faith will be with Him, in glory, throughout all eternity!

By contrast verse 6 describes the result of living in sin and not putting sin to death. It says, Because of these – our sinful conduct, impure thoughts and misguided priorities, done without repentance – the wrath of God is coming.

There are only two destinies for all humanity, either to experience the proper and righteous wrath of God against unrepentant sin or to experience Christ as your all in all, the central One in your life, today and throughout eternity.

As Paul closes the second paragraph, there in verse 11, he points out that Christ has broken down all the barriers between Greek and Jew, slave and free. The day will come when people from every tribe and nation and people will praise Christ as their all in all.

Will you be among that great multitude? And will I?  Do we truly believe that in principle we died with Christ and rose with Him, so that even now, in principle, we are with Him in the heavenly realms?  Is Christ all in all to you?  Is Christ the central One in your life?  If so, out of gratitude do you and I earnestly strive to put to death the old sinful nature of Adam within us?  Do we strive to put on the new self that we have through faith in Christ, being renewed in knowledge in the image of our Creator?

By God’s grace may you and I have the affirmative answer, the answer of living faith in Christ. May you and I be among that great multitude, who having died with Christ and having been raised with Him, find Him to be our all in all! Amen.

 

- bulletin outline -

 

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. - Colossians 3:4
 
“Christ, Who Is Your Life”
Colossians 3:1-11
 
I. If, by God’s grace, we truly focus on two realities: that we died with Christ and rose with Him (1-3), it will enable us to see that Christ ..is our life (4). That
   realization will profoundly change:
     1) Our thought life (1-3)
 
 
 
 
 
     2) Our priorities (1-4)
 
 
 
 
 
     3) Our conduct (5-11)
 
 
 
 
 
II. If we are united with Christ through faith in Him, by His sanctifying Spirit, we will:
     1) Put to death what belongs to the sinful nature (5-8)
 
 
 
 
 
     2) Put on the new self, being renewed in knowledge in the image of our Creator (9-10)
 
 
 
 
 
     3) Recognize that we will appear with Christ in glory (4) and that Christ is all, and is in all (11)
 
 
 
 
 
05/03/2015 – a.m.
 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 05/0, Rev. Ted Gray

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