Title: The Christian’s Responsibility
Text: Colossians 3.1-11
CPT: Paul has moved from teaching doctrine to the practice of their faith; Believers should set their focus on Christ alone, and live out their lives no longer controlled by the earthly passions and desires, but rather to participate in a common community that finds its foundation, not in race, religion or social status, but in but Christ alone.
CPS: Since you have been raised with Christ, strip away the old person and dress in righteousness and holiness, and no longer behave in a manner which reflects your former, lost state.
Introduction: We’ve come to a transition point in Colossians. We’ve moved from a focus on the pastor and his teaching – as portrayed by Paul, here, to the Believer and his actions. It was the Pastor’s Prayer, Gratitude, Plea, Struggle, etc., as he wrote of his desires for the church. Now, we’ll take a look at the Christian’s Life: His Responsibility, His Relationships, and His Work as it relates to his new life in Christ.
Paul does here in Colossians, what he does in some of his other letters – he teaches first and then, he challenges the reader to live out that teaching; There are Principles of the Christian faith and there is the Practice of the Christian faith.
- Ephesians 1-3; 4.1 – 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. 4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called
- Romans 1-11; 12.1 – 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. 12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Likewise, we find in 3.1, a transition from the didactic to the practical. Therefore…; NASB; don’t see it in the ESV, but there is a push in the transition, that leads us from the teaching portion of the letter, to the application.
Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, and Paul issues two commands for the Christian in fulfilling his responsibility: Seek and Set; So, what is the Christian’s Responsibility?
I’ve listed them here as:
I. Focus on Christ (1-4)
exp.: if; a good thing for every person to do, but, the command is directed at believers; I’ve heard of stories of people who are not Christians or Jewish, but like the principles set forth Scripture and follow them because they make good economic sense. These folks like the moral compass of Scripture or the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. But this is for the believer: Command 1: seek – the things above; Command 2: Set your minds (Think or Understand) again, on things above; as opposed to the shadows (2.17), these things below on the earth;
ill.: You’re commanded to do these both because it isn’t in your nature, as a human; Paul quotes the OT in Romans 3 and says, “No one understands; no one seeks out God.”
“None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
It isn’t in your nature; but you have a new nature now! Rd v 3a; for (because) you died, and you have been hidden in Christ; rd v 4; but when he appears, you will no longer be hidden in him, you’ll appear with him in glory;
app.: your place isn’t here! You don’t belong on this earth.
ill.: C.S. Lewis said: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
app.: Stop focusing on the shadows, he says, but rather, Fix your eyes upon Jesus! Yes, you live among the shadows, but they are not reality!
t.s.: So, in v5-9, Paul informs the readers about…
II. The Reality of the Old Life (5-9)
exp.: rd 3.5a; put to death is lit.: make dead! Well, how do you make something alive, die? You kill it! If it is a tomato plant, you give it to me! I’ll kill it for you! I’m like Lenny Small in Of Mice and Men, who loved his pet mouse so much he pet it to death. I just love my tomato plants to death. Back to our text, this is what I call:
- The Harsh Reality of the Old Life – Kill it; That’s the thing about living in the shadowlands – our minds are focused on the shadows. Paul gives a list of what to kill in yourself; rd 3.5b; he’ll continue the list after v6-7 – where he gives grounds for their change; rd 3.6f; Then, he continues the list – and this is what I call…
- The Practical Reality of the Old Life – Set it aside –
This first list, Paul identifies as connected with idolatry: consider the 10 commandments – idolatry, covetousness, wanting your neighbor’s possessions and people.
This 2nd list deals more with speech – anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another…
In reality, they all deal with relationships. This is how you used to be! But you’re not that way anymore – so deal with your relationships in a Christlike manner. Even though, some people are hard to live with!
ill.: R. Kent Hughes tells the story of a young man who fell in love with Jonathan Edwards’ Daughter. The young man sought out Edwards, 3rd president of Princeton, and asked for her hand. Edwards knew his daughter better than the outside world. Hughes writes: Edwards had a daughter with an ungovernable temper. As is often the case, the problem was not known to the outside world.
“You can’t have her,” was the abrupt answer of Jonathan Edwards.
“But I love her,” the young man replied.
“You can’t have her,” said Edwards.
“But she loves me,” replied the young man.
Again Edwards said, “You can’t have her.”
“Why?” asked the young man.
“Because she is not worthy of you.”
“But,” he asked, “she is a Christian, is she not?”
“Yes, she is a Christian, but the grace of God can live with some people with whom no one else could ever live.”R. Kent Hughes, “Preaching the Word: Colossians and Philemon”
Ouch! Of his own daughter!
app.: The Reality of the Old Life is that it must be put to death. It has no place in this new life.
t.s.: which is our last point this morning, we’ll expand on it next week…
III. The Reality of this New Life (10-11)
exp.: rd 3.9a-11; simply put – because you’re a part of a new family; you’re not classified in one of these former groups! Your new group is “Christian”!
ill.: Acts 9, the story of Paul’s conversion: – new friends – new family; the guys who traveled with to Damascus – those guys went back to Jerusalem without Paul.
Years later, when Paul is brought before his old family – the Sanhedrin – he doesn’t even know their leadership. Acts 23;
app.: Paul’s life was new – as it is with us, when we come to Christ: we get new friends and new passions; and yes, there are those who will doubt the experience, but then we see a faithfulness to the Gospel that demonstrates this new change. As you kill the passions and vices you once walked in – as you put away the old behaviors and are transformed into the image of your creator, it will become more and more evident.
t.s.: we’ll pick up here next week, in 12-17;
We have brothers & sisters in Christ who are called Methodist. Every denomination is having the same struggle they’re having, it’s just their struggle is very public right now.
The conservative wing of the UMC has detached themselves from the liberal wing of the UMC and has formed a new denomination: The Global Methodist Church.
From what I understand (and I’ll admit, I don’t understand their denominational form and structure), there is a group of conservatives who have recognized for decades a liberal movement from within their denomination. They’ve fought for their denomination for decades, but have come to a point where they don’t want to continue the battle. Every 4 years, when their General Conference meets to discuss theology and practice, to make changes and challenges, the liberal movement rises up and pushes to remove traditional evangelicalism and embrace a Christless gospel that doesn’t offend. There are many on the left (Ecclesiological not political) who would contend that the Traditionalists’ battle is against the LGBTQPIA+, but I don’t think that is so. Not really.
Dr. Timothy Tennet, President of Asbury Theological Seminary wrote on this matter of separation. This is the time for the Traditionalists to remember afresh what this whole struggle has been about over the last fifty years. It has not been about human sexuality. It has not been about the terms of separation. It has not been about the Trust Clause. These have served as some of the presenting issues. The struggle has been about nothing less than the recovery of biblical, apostolic Christianity. It is about a profound and fresh encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is the Lord of the church, and who has promised us that he will build his church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
For them, their battle is the same as ours – it is for the inerrancy, infallibility, and wholly inspired Word of God. Either this is God’s Word, or it isn’t. Either God is powerful enough to communicate to us His commands, or He is not. He is strong enough to preserve it for 1000’s of years, or He is not. And He means what He says, or he does not.
I think of our text today. Paul said, “Kill whatever is earthly in you.” And he lists πορνεία first, trans.: sexual immorality. Πορνεία is the word from which we get our word pornography. Πορνεία is a word which describes any sexually explicit activity outside of the covenant marriage as designed by God. There are other words which are used to describe specific activity, but this one is a general term used to describe any activity not sanctioned in Scripture.
That’s pretty simple and pretty clear. I can’t say I understand everything there is in Scripture about every topic under the sun. But the truth is, I don’t have to. I have enough trouble abiding by the instructions that are clear. This one is clear! Husband, if you’re watching pornography, you’re breaking the 7th and the 10th commandments.
We’re not Methodist (although, some of you are). We are Christians. But their struggle is ourn; it is ours, too! As believers, something happens to us when we come to Christ. When anyone comes to Christ, the old has passed away. The New has come! And, The Word of God is our Standard for determining this new life in Christ.
- Kill whatever is earthly in you. Rise up and kill it! Get radical! Remove your TV’s; change from a smart phone to a flip phone; get accountability;
- Watch your mouth! Put a guard over it! Get accountability; if you want to stop lying, ask those who love you to hold you accountable. Then, don’t get mad, repent. If you’re a gossip – stop! Get accountability. Ask your spouse, your friends to hold you accountable. Then, don’t get mad, repent!
- Begin to treat the Word of God as it actually is. Not a comic book to picked up and read sometimes, but, a letter from the Creator of this Universe to you.