Colossians: The Power to Endure with Joy (Chapter 3 pt 1)

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Now, in chapter three, Paul turns to the true manifestation of power and how to lay hold of the power of Christ:

So, if you’re serious . . . if you have been raised with Christ to a new life—sharing His resurrection from the dead . . . act like it . . . set your sights on the realities of heaven—the rich, eternal treasures, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power Pursue the things over which Christ presides . . . See things from his perspective . . . Let heaven fill your thoughts . . .

That does not mean that we should go around constantly thinking about heaven. There is nothing super-pious about that. No, he is simply saying, “Don’t let your desires and your attitudes be governed or directed by the desire for earthly fame or power. Instead, we should allow our desires to be shaped by the word of God.” We are to have a desire to exhibit love, truth, faith, and patience—the qualities that mark the life of the risen Lord. That is what he is talking about. We are not to go around thinking about heaven all the time. Instead we should go around manifesting heaven in the situations we find ourselves involved in.

Paul tells us how to do this:

For as far as this world is concerned, you died when Christ died, and your new, real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory . . . So kill—deprive of power—the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, etc., etc., . . . kill off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like—whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings rather than of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better.

God has already sentenced our “earthly” life to death on the cross. When it manifests itself in you, treat it like that—treat it as under the sentence of death from God. He goes on to list these earthly things:

. . . you know better now, put away and rid yourselves completely—gone for good—of  all these things: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk . . . don’t lie . . . all those things are like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire.

Put these away—they are nothing but filthy rags and no longer fit to be worn by a child of God.

That is step number one. Step two is:

Now you are dressed in a new wardrobe . . . custom made by the Creator . . . clothed . . . with a brand new nature . . . Clothe yourselves as God’s own chosen ones—who are purified and holy and well-beloved by God Himself. . . dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion-tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility—a lowly opinion of yourself, quiet strength, discipline, gentile ways, and patient—tireless and long suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper.

Paul is telling us that we must first throw off the rags—then we can clothe ourselves with the robes of a king . . . We have been told that Christ dwells in us, which is a wonderful reality. Since He is there, let these things be manifest in you. Deliberately set yourself to manifest these characteristics of his life. Count on his life in you to make them real and not phony—allow them to be genuine, authentic manifestations of his life.

I love using props to illustrate Kingdom principles. One time I walked to the podium dressed in a pair of really nice dress pants, dress shirt and tie–but on top of that, I wore a old raggedy robe. When I walked out, I received a few chuckles and I said, “You know, THAT is exactly what happens when you walk into the Throne room of Heaven! You come dressed in the rags of your own power; your own self-righteousness; your own abilities. The angels of Heaven look at all that, and chuckle.”

[But I took it even further. I dropped that rope like the dirty rag it was, and put on my really clean and “classy” suit coat]. (Man, I looked cool!) I explained that when we come to Christ, this is exactly what he does for us. He removes the old rags of self, and clothes us with HIS Righteousness!

But . . . [as I slowly pick up the old robe and put it on], we don’t seem to be happy with that nice looking suit, and we return to our old ways of thinking. We believe that our Redemption is dependent on our ability to pray; to read our Bibles every day [as I continue to put that old robe back on over my suit coat!]; to serve the homeless . . . all of those things are good, but all of our self-efforts will NOT earn our Redemption! Our Redemption does NOT come as a result of those things!

Another time, in a home group setting, I lead every one into the kitchen where I had a 2-liter of pop with a label that read “You.” I explained that the 2-liter symbolized them and their life of sin. [As I began to empty the 2-Liter into the sink] I explained this is what happens when Jesus takes over your life. He removes all of the sin and crud that was in you [then as I fill the 2-liter full of cool, clean water], He then fills your life full with his life! All of that sin and crud is gone–behold! Everything is new!

The problem is [as I grab another 2-liter labeled “sin,” “the world,” “nasty stuff around us”] we live in an evil world. [As I put a few capfulls of pop into the clean 2-liter] Hanging out in the world, we become recontaminated [a few more capfulls] we listen to the language of our old friends [another capfull] maybe we still listen to the same music [another capfull] . . . however, [I squirt a little clean water from the faucet into the now-contaminated 2-liter] we go to church on Sunday [squirt more from the faucet] we even pray once in awhile [squirt more from the faucet]. The problem is [Put in another capfull of pop] we still live in the world and its evil influences [another capfull of pop].

[Then alternating a squirt from the faucet and another capfull of pop] We keep going back and forth, but never make any progress in our Christian life!

What we need to do [placing the 2-liter under the faucet] is continue our relationship and love and worship of our Lord! That way [splash another capfull of pop] even though we are in the world [the faucet is still running] and develop our relationship with the Lord [putting in another capfull of pop] we are not influenced by the world!

[Opening the faucet even more] As we continue on, even with the influence of the world around us [splash another capfull of pop] we are unaffected and we grow in Grace and Mercy!

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