søndag 20. juli 2014

Colossians 3:5-17 Kill and live

Colossians 3:5-17

Have you ever wondered why we go through books – why we start at the beginning of Colossians and go through to the end? Or when we do a more topical sermon we always set the scene of where we’re preaching from – tell you a bit of the context?
I wonder why more churches don’t do this. It is bizarre to me – just as bizarre as someone who reads the books on their bookshelf by pulling a book at random, opening to a random page, and then thinking hard about that page. But it is not only bizarre (strange) but it is also dangerous. Let me illustrate:

Colossians 3:5-17 is all about how to please God. Like it says in v24-25 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. 25 But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done.

He is our Master, and will pay us back if we do wrong. So we must not do the wrong things , and we must do the right things. Otherwise we will be punished. Dt 4:24 (NLT) The Lord your God is a devouring fire; he is a jealous God.

So, how’s your performance. Are you a sinner, loving the earth? Or are you righteous? Are you full of lust and sexual sin (v5). Don’t lie to me! I can see your lust from here. The wrath of God is on you! 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.
And are you greedy (v5)? For you are an idolater! Get rid of it, you sinner. Instead you must be merciful, kind, humble, gentle, patient. Now do it.

How does that make you feel?

If you’ve been coming to Rock Church for a while you’re probably feeling a little off-balance right now. Thinking that’s not quite right, there’s something wrong with this message. And that’s right – it’s a message completely devoid of the Gospel. It had Bible in it, it seemed to be the passage – but I was using the Bible to support MY ideas, rather than preaching the Bible’s ideas. It was all stop doing this and start doing that. It was try harder, do more. And that’s the opposite of the Gospel. The Gospel is that Christ has done it.

Beware the preacher who preaches out of context.

There’s another version designed to make the congregation feel better at the expense of other people. This is where you change the focus of the text off the Christians (which is who Paul is talking to) to the non-Christians “out there”. It’s the Paradise Hotel or Jerry Springer version – you know, that type of TV show which exists to show people at their worst so that you can feel better about yourself. Many churches do this, and so the “pastor” rails against the sexually impure – these divorcees and unmarried people fornicating, these homosexuals – because of them our country is facing the anger of God. Look at v6. The Bible says it and I believe it. And so as God is my witness I will fight against the scourge of gays in this country….

A text without a context is a pretext for a con. In that little example there I made “the Bible” say what *I* wanted it to say. Which was “I hate gays”. How many churches and sermons are full of bigotry and hatred dressed up in Christianised clothing. In context this is exactly what Paul is warning us against! Not pride, but humility before the Lord. Not looking at the sins of others, but looking at our own sin. Not judgementalism and hatred, but peace-making, gentleness, kindness, love. Be like Christ, who went to the cross to die for his enemies. And so if gay people are really your enemies, then if you belong to Christ are you ready to die for them? Are you ready to welcome divorcees, fornicators into your home, your church? Are you willing to recognise that you too are a sinner, just like “them”?

So what does this passage say? What is it that makes this a gospel passage, and makes our two preachers that I started with wrong? It is the word “so” or as other translations translate it “therefore”. Of course, it’s not just that – the gospel is sprinkled everywhere through this passage – v7 you used to when you were part of this world (past tense). V10 you are renewed V11 Christ is all that matters and he lives in all of us, v12 God chose you to be holy, v14 the Lord forgave you, v15 the peace that comes from Christ. It’s everywhere – for those who are reading with open minds. But if you are reading for a religious list, if you are reading for a way to be right with God by your own efforts, if you want to find a way to make God owe you – you will miss them, and you will miss the word “so”.

When you’re reading the Bible be on the lookout for these words like “so” because” “since” and “therefore” – and when you see them ask what they are there for. What’s the therefore there for? Especially just before a list of “this is how you are to behave”.

David Cook, an Australian minster, was telling the story of inviting some of his gym buddies, who all happened to be Roman Catholic priests, to a talk he was giving on the 10 commandments. One of his friends came, and afterwards David asked him what he thought. His friend said “what really struck me is that 2 came before 3”- David thought “whaaaat? What kind of great thought is that? 2 comes before 3 – that’s what he got out of it?” But it was a great thought: Ex20:2-3 “I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. 3 “You must not have any other god but me”.
Notice the order. God says “I am the one who has redeemed you, now live this way”. He does not say “now if you want to be redeemed, live this way”. Redemption is always first. Never tell people a gospel of morals without its redemptive context. We are saved by grace, not good behaviour!
David said “for my friend it was a great breakthrough that redemption (v2), must come before lifestyle (v3)”

It is the great message of grace that runs throughout the Bible, and it’s the same message here. Paul lays out the lifestyle of the redeemed, the saved, the Christian, after first reminding us of the grace of God which saved us. So let’s remind ourselves of the “therefore” – what’s the context.

Turn back to chapter 1, and look at v2. The letter is addressed to God’s holy people, literally “saints” in Colossae, who are known 1:6 as people whose lives were changed by the Gospel. When we come to Christ we become, in an instant, saints. God’s holy people. Because the gospel is not “try really hard”, or “despise all the sinners and fornicators around you” but look at v13. The Gospel is 1:13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
Just like in Romans, just like in the story of Abraham, we find that being a Christian is not a philosophy or even a lifestyle, but is a spiritual transfer from darkness to light, from judgement to blessing – and no matter what we do, we are blessed by God, because Christ’s actions are viewed as our actions. Abraham kept sinning – for example lying about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife – because he couldn’t quite believe in the promises of God – that God would be faithful towards him even when he was faithless. But, as we saw, God was faithful.
How often are we like Abraham, disbelieving God’s promises, thinking our performance somehow changes things. Look at v13. HE has rescued us. HE transferred us. HE purchased (redeemed), He forgave our sins. All of them. If we could really grasp that, it would transform our lives. What freedom we would know! Truly forgiven. Truly blessed. That is the truth. We live in the realm of blessing.

Col 1:21–22 (NLT) This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
You are holy and blameless. Why? Because you are in Christ, and Christ is holy and blameless.
Our response is in v23 Col 1:23 (NLT) But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.

Believe it. Act like you believe. Live in a manner that agrees with your beliefs.
At the train station I stand on the platform as the train hurtles towards me because I believe that I am safe. Normally if a huge chunk of metal was racing towards me I wouldn’t stand only an arm’s length away! But I know that the train will follow the tracks and will go safely past me. I am safe. I act in accordance with my beliefs. I don’t leap into the air shouting “look out!” and running as hard as I can off the platform and out of the train station.
But how often are we doing that as Christians?
God says do not fear. He says that the forces of darkness are powerless over us. Col 2:15 (NLT) In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. But often we are afraid of evil spirits, of ghosts, of curses, of the “evil eye”, of the tokolosh. Oh there can be real power there – but Christ has shamed them publically and stripped them of their power. If you are in Christ, you are safe. If you are not in Christ, you are not safe.
He says in 2:8 that we are not to be captivated by the empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
But how often are we! We are fooled by the rhetoric, the clever speeches, the flash delivery, the “science” backing it, the zeal of the people delivering the message, and of course, the core of truth in many of these philosophies. But they miss Christ – and without him wisdom is just foolishness. As v2:17 he is the reality these philosophies are searching for. In Christ is found true feminism: women honoured for their womanhood in all its different forms, not a one size fits all, but each woman showing off her unique gifts and beauty to the praise of her Saviour. In him is found true consumerism: the things that promise satisfaction are put in their proper place, and we find satisfaction in Christ – and then those things are ours to enjoy, to use to the praise of God. An example is the Farm – given by God, used to his praise and glory so many times. All of us have experienced hospitality, warmth, fun, beauty there. My parents delight in the farm because they delight in the Giver of the farm, and delight in using it to his praise and glory.

See, the secret to Christian life is death. It is to die to your self and your own interests, and live for Christ. Only when we lay aside ourselves can we truly live.

Colossians 3 is a real trap for us. We can look at it as a list of behaviours, and try to squeeze ourselves into that list, contorting ourselves to fit it – shouting look God, look, see, look, aren’t I a good boy, hurry up and look, I can’t hold this for much longer…
Or we can die to self, stop being preoccupied with our performance, and live for Christ. For his life is ours, we must let it shine out. That’s all chapter 3 and 4 is. Showing us what this new life looks like. Showing us what we are, and are becoming in Christ. We are holy and blameless. That is what we are. And we are becoming holy and blameless as his life in us shines out all the brighter.

Col 1:27 (NLT) For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Christ lives in us. Colossians 3 is not a list of how to live, but a description of Christian behaviour. How will you recognise Christians? Because they start more and more to live like this, like Christ. They start to look like Jesus. 3:10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

And the way to live like Christ is not try really hard – but to surrender yourself to death. I must give up my life, my pride, my reputation – remember Paul’s hard-to-preach words in chapter 2 about suffering (download the sermon if you haven’t – it’s sermon 5, called “true Christianity”). As we die, our new life in Christ is seen.

Death is the path to life. It’s sprinkled all throughout this chapter: v3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.;
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you;
7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world;
11 In this new life…Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us
. We need to die to world’s way of thinking – the lie that we can save ourselves. Trying really hard seems the wise way, but it is empty and pointless. 2:23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. What kind of people are we when we follow this way of thinking? Graceless, harsh, superior. With an appearance of false humility. Exactly the opposite of Christ, and exactly like the Pharisees and religious leaders who put him to death!

We must put it to death v5. In fact, the word in v5 is “nekrosate” lit. kill. We must KILL that old way of life. Surrender to the cross. It is an active act of faith.

So, practically, how does this work out? How does v5 work out in practice, with its warning against sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires, and greed? And v8 with anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language, and lying (v9)?

Well, firstly we must believe that these are sins, and stop trying to justify or explain away our sin. Put to death or sinful self-justification! And acknowledge, yes, I am sexually immoral. Yes, I am greedy. Yes, I am full of impurity and lust and evil desires. Yes, I am a liar, and angry, and a slanderer. Only then will we be willing to take action against it, to put it to death.

Let me give an example: If Debby is not at home or about to come home, I will not invite anther woman into my house. So if you’re standing there on the step, ladies, and Debby isn’t home, you’re not coming in! Why? Because I don’t trust myself. And you know what – I don’t trust YOU! We are sinners. Sin is destructive. Part of me wants to tear down and destroy all that is good. Satan waits like a roaring lion, ready to devour. We want to sin. That is who we are without Christ. Now, we probably wouldn’t, but I won’t take that chance. And, gentlemen, if you come a-calling when I’m not home and Debby is, well, you’ll be standing on the steps as well!
So, first we must recognise all the sinful, earthly things lurking within you (v5).

Secondly, we need to take action. I must kill that part of me, the old me, the old sinful man. (v5 Nekrosate: put to death). Remind him that he is dead. I cannot sin, I say, because dead men cannot sin! I have died to this life – Christ is my real life (v3). I used to do these things when my life was part of this world (v7) but no longer.

Thirdly, recognise that this is a struggle to the death. Our goal is to kill our sinful desires, not make life comfortable for them! So often we walk right into situations we shouldn’t. We follow the same tired old paths towards our sin again and again.

In the film the Matrix, Neo, the main character is faced with a choice. He’s standing in the doorway of the car, not knowing whether he can trust these people he’s just met. As he stands and looks down the street, the easy option, the safe option, one of them says to him “Neo, you know that street, you know where it leads…” and he gets into the car, and into a whole new world.

We know where our sin leads. We have been down that road before – some of us many times. Don’t go there. Instead, lift up your eyes to heaven. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ. And a whole new world is open to you.

To sum up then. V6 is true: Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. We are sinners, and we desrve his anger. And if we are not in Christ, we will face his anger.
But to avoid his anger we don’t try really hard to impress him. No. We come to him and say “Help me”. We come to Christ, and follow him to the Cross, the Cross of our salvation. And we leave our old life there with him, and he takes our sins, our old life, and it is nailed to the Cross with him. And then as he is resurrected, we too are raised to new life.
And so we are now saints. Holy and blameless. Christ is in us – and his new nature starts to affect the way that we live. New speech. New actions. New feelings. New love. We are new.
Put to death the old life. Kill your sin. Lift up your eyes to Christ and embrace him.

Father, thank you We do not come to church to pretend that we are good. We come to church to be reminded that we are sinners, that we are saved by grace, to confess our sin, and to celebrate the Good News that Christ died to save sinners. Help us to strip off the dirty rags of the old sinful life, and put on the royal robes of righteousness. Amen

søndag 6. juli 2014

Colossians 2:13-23 Christ has set me free

Colossians 2:13-23

PICTURE IN YOUR MIND.....As Jesus was dying on the Cross that Friday, in the halls of Hell, Satan and his demons were laughing hysterically and with delight.


They were partying and celebrating. The party was in full fling!

It was the party to end all parties. Devilish laughter filled the air! From time to time Satan rose to make a speech to the cheers of the demons.

He displayed the calm confidence of someone who’s won his greatest victory.

It was hard-fought to be sure and until the last moment he was nervous, but then it happened, and when it did, he knew he was the victor at last.

That old curse ...this puny God is finally gone…we’ll see who crushes who’s head.


Hours passed…the music and partying grew even louder. They danced and sang and drank and cheered and laughed the night away.


By Saturday morning, when you’d have expected the crowd to thin out, it grew larger–and louder–and even more rowdy as more and more spiritual rulers from distant realms came from around the spiritual world. The world we cannot see....


Speeches were given, followed by one toast after another. Then, more dancing and in the darker corners, wild immoral behavior took place.


But then it happened! .......No one knows the precise moment but in the early hours of Sunday morning, a messenger arrived whispering something in the ear of Satan..... and he looked as though he had seen one of his own ghosts...But he grew faint at the news.


A nervous whisper ran through the crowd. It happened that fast.


The music stopped, the dancing ended, and on Sunday morning the party in hell was over forever...... Hell’s rejoicing was short-lived. The party that started on Good Friday ended on Easter Sunday. What appeared to be Satan’s greatest victory turned into his absolute defeat?


The Cross on Calvary and the empty tomb meant for Satan the party’s over.


When Christ rose from the dead he took all the power and sting out of ALL the principalities powers or domains of the spiritual world.

All the powers that rage against the Christian...Christ exposed them... laid them bare and then he shattered smashed them.

Read vs 15.

Now they are empty and defeated...beaten completely


That is what Jesus did on the cross...


When I was about 18 a friend of mine got hold of some drugs...

But he died after being thrown to of a moving car onto the hospital steps.

I had a dream....standing before God ...backing away... saying hope  less... hopeless hope less end.


One thing Steve got right....in his short life

"Hopeless" describes exactly our position before the cross.

Before the cross, we were not friends with God. Thrown out of the Garden of Eden...we became independent of God...we were on our own.

We made the mess and we were powerless to fix it.

Then came plan of God...Calvary and the cross!! Starting with the Angel being placed at the gate to stop Adam and Eve coming back in...The tree of life was there...you don’t want to touch that when your in a state of rebellion with God. Then go across history to the cross at Calvary and to the empty grave.

And what was a hopeless end became for the Christ one an endless Hope. Check out 1 John 5:11,12. With Christ life without Christ ...no life.

Look back over history to the guy who ordered the death of Jesu...Pilate. Before Jesus was nailed to that cross he put a small sign was nailed above his head...

Jesus of Nazareth ...the king of the Jews!

The Jews authorities said, "no, no, … but Pilate said, "what I have written, I have written."

What you couldn’t see written in very small letters was all the sins of little Jackie Garratt

Vs 14 He cancelled All the record of sin against little Jackie!!!


Every time you or I broke a command of God... forgiven and cancelled...


Rom 3:23 for all have sinned.

Rom 6:23 Wages of sin... PAID IN FULL…so free the gift was eternal life.

Forgiven when we take Christ seriously and follow Him…     

In colossia jews who were used to having holy days and following rules started to lea non the gentiles and said they had to do the same….( this is why the letter)

But Sinful man could never reach a holy God through his own efforts.

No matter how sincere the effort, no matter how agonizing the labour self beating or fasting....


Sinful man can never bridge the chasm between himself and a holy God.


Eph 2:8,9...Not by works or human effort...but by grace!!


It was the Grace if God that bridged that chasm between God and Man.


Do you really think God would put his Son through the humiliation and agony of the cross if all that was needed for us to get right with God was a little dieting here holiday there and of course a little skin whacking for the guys!


Sin is a horrible, and hideous, and it effects every human on this planet.

To be rid of sin demands the very wisdom and power of Almighty God.


All these visual practices are doomed to failure spiritually, Paul says in verse 23, ‘‘Because they are based on human teachings, human strength."

We could not fix it!!!

Because Jesus came to this earth to die and rise from the dead...not so that He could simply just plonk you in heaven for eternity. That’s only part of it and a very important part.  But it was also to get himself out of heaven and into you where you are...taking His rightful place as God intended man to be...full of God...as it was in the garden of Eden!!


A man of God is a man in whom God


Through what Jesus did on the cross, if you are a Christ one you are acceptable. WHY? Because... The life of the Lord Jesus is placed in you to stop you being what you are in your nature, and that is unholy. That my friend is something only the Holy Spirit can do for you.

Once that new life is placed in you... You are free!!! Vs 20.

Let’s put this in real life…

The things that took Christ to the cross…in Christ they are terminated ...Finished! Vs 20.

One of the happiest days of my father’s life took place about 67  years ago.

My father was standing on parade in army uniform.

He was about to leave the army after the war.

You are now dismissed from his majesty's army and may, if you wish, seek civilian employment. But if you desire to sign on for another seven years, his majesties government we'll be happy to entertain you."

My father said under his breath...Not bloomin likey. He was free!

There was a man that had made the life of the soldiers an absolutely misery and his name was ‘regimental sergeant major’ . He had an immaculate uniform, a big voice, and a big mouth and a big moustache.

He loved to come right behind you while we were on parade, standing stiff.

Staring straight ahead. He would open his very big mouth one inch behind your ears and shout at the top of his voice, 'Am I hurting you boy?"

We had to answer, "No, sergeant major." "I can't hear you!"

"You're not moving your head, are you?" "no, sergeant major."

"I’m standing on your hair at the back! Get your hair cut

He was not a nice man!!!

Whenever we saw him coming, our backs would spring up straight. We'd swing our arms up to the shoulder, thumb on top, heels dug in.

The day my Dad was released He saw the rsm walking toward him.

My Dads head sprang up, His back straightened, and he began to march. His arm went to leap up to salute ... And a little voice inside me said.. "You are free from him, You died to him a few moments ago on that parade ground.... so he is dead to you. He has no power over you!!!"

So why salute a dead man walking!!!

So a very funny thing happened. His back curled over to a relaxed position, my hands found their way deliciously into my pockets.

And as he walked past the man, he whistled. I whistle a happy tune......and gave a little wave not a salute..

The RSM went red, turned to purple, turned to puce. He couldn't do a thing.

That's what the cross means to the Christian. We also died to all that it was necessary for Christ to die for.

VS 16 read....

So the next time people come our way and lean on you to act like them because they have a problem with the new direction you are taking

Or it could be....something like the food or drink or Satan tries to have a go at you and tempt you.....remember that although some people are powerful and Satan is mighty .....God is ALL powerful and All MIGHTY.....we should just whistle at 'em.  Deg vara are....

Thine be the Glory risen conquering Son, endless is thy victory thou oer death has won.

The devil and the principalities, and powers, the determined people he uses...They can't do a thing.


With Christ He has set you free from following the world’s ideas of how to be saved—

He has don it...it really is finished.