Devotional - Living The Christian Life - Lessons From Colossians - Part Three

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized,slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. - Colossians 3: 8-11 (NLT)

    Sometimes it seems that Christianity is lacking specificity. We all use the same Christianisms to discuss our faith and how we should be living our lives. We just have to "walk in the Spirit!" Just have the "faith of a mustard seed!" Tell that mountain to move! Amen and hallelujah...and then we have to go home and back to the realities of living a Christian life in a fallen world. We have been examining the opening verses from the third chapter of Paul's letter to the church at Colossae where he outlines specifics for living the victorious Christian life we hear so much about. This is the third installment in this exposition. The first two can be found here:

    As we get back into the text at verse eight we see the Apostle Paul getting down to the specifics we all need to be aware of in our walk. In this verse he outlines five things we need to get rid of if we are to find ourselves living this new life in Christ. Note first of all that we are supposed to completely get rid of these things. They have no place in our lives anymore. I think sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that minimizing such behavior is good enough. That we are making the effort is all that is needed. Not according to these Scriptures. We are to get rid of them all together!

    The first thing we need to be rid of is anger. I know what most are thinking - how can we get rid of something like anger? We must remember that we strive for Christ-likeness knowing that we can never fully attain it. But because we can never fully attain it should make us strive for it all the more. The more we can eliminate anger from our lives, the more our lives will be like Christ's. The dictionary defines anger as "a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong." This is important to understand. Anger does not come out of the clear blue sky. There is a perceived wrong that we sense that causes us to feel angry. Some of the time that wrong is merely perceived and not real. How many times have we misunderstood something we were angry about? But even if it is a real offense committed against us what are we compelled to do according to the Bible:

    Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. - Ephesians 4: 32 (NLT)

    No matter how grave the injustice perpetrated against us is, it will not measure up to all Christ has already forgiven us for. Going even deeper than that however, God does not give us this maxim just because it is just but because it is what is best for us in the end. I would wager that 90% of the time we are angry with someone that they either do not know or it or could care less about it. We are allowing this person or offense to rent space in our mind and heart for free. In this age when we are seeing people shooting one another over texting in a movie theater or because their car stereo is too loud, we must realize that anger is also a root that must be dug up so we can be rid of it. Anger is like a poison we drink while we wait for the other person to die.

    “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot,you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone,you are in danger of the fires of hell. - Matthew 5: 21-22 (NLT)

    In a world that only deals with the symptoms, Jesus dealt with the root of the problem. You do not get to the point of shooting someone without having uncontrolled anger to begin with. Secondly, verse eight says to get rid of rage. Now, rage may sound similar but if we look at the King James Version, this word is actually wrath. Wrath is often an outcome of anger. Wrath is the desire to seek retribution for the perceived wrong we sense having been visited upon us. Who has not secretly desired to get even with someone? It is part of our flesh nature. Entire movie genres have made fortunes telling stories of revenge and it is usually those seeking revenge that are made out to be heroes. God however does not think the way the world does and we are supposed to be transformed into His image daily. Here is the model He has given us:

    Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. - Romans 12: 19-21 (NLT)

    A difficult lesson indeed but one that will lead us more towards Christ and away from this world beloved. Just like when the three Hebrew boys were facing the fiery furnace they simply said to the king - "we do not have to defend ourselves in this matter!" God sees all and hears all. I know how difficult it is to not want to respond in kind to the unkind or ill informed but remember that God will hold us all to account for every careless word spoken, as well as our deeds.

    Thirdly in verse eight we are to get rid of malicious behavior. Now we are getting to the deep roots of who we are. Simply put, malice is the desire to hurt someone else. It does not have to be physically hurting someone else either as we all know that words often hurt far more than bruises. You would think this is a no brainer but how many people do we know who have been hurt in ministry? Hurt by church leadership? Hurt by other Christians? I know plenty who only through the comfort of the saving grace of Jesus Christ were able to survive their hurt. I still know people who refuse to go to an organized church due to hurts suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to love them:

    So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” - John 13: 34-35 (NLT)

    Yet what does the world see when they peer into our church doors? We are supposed to love each other. Not just the ones that are easy to love. Not just the ones that look like us or sound like us. Not just the ones that we deem as being nice. The world is malicious by nature. The world lashes out to hurt people for no reason. The church is supposed to be different beloved. It is supposed to be a sanctuary in reality not just name. It is supposed to be a place that people can feel safe. This is another reason why it is imperative that we be different. That we stop this silly belief that we need to be relevant to a malicious culture. We do not need to be relevant - we need to be different.

    The fourth thing we need to rid ourselves of is slander. The dictionary defines slander as a malicious, false and defamatory statement or report about someone. Gossip tears down too many churches and ministries today. Gossiping Christians love to use the facade of prayer to further their gossip but what we must realize today is that it is the listener that must put a stop to the spirit of gossip and slander in the church. The gossiper will have no outlet if everyone would just politely decline to be a willing listener. Please realize however that correct criticism is not slander. There has to be an element of malice - which means an intent to hurt someone. There must be falseness to the report and there must be something that is defaming in nature - or designed to ruin someone's reputation. The Bible makes it clear that we are our brother's keeper.

    The fifth thing listed is perhaps the most easily overlooked and it is dirty language. The tongue is most difficult to tame. We live in a society that allows the majority of full cursing on network television. Things you would never hear on TV thirty years ago are throw away lines in todays market. Children are taught to curse as a part of their regular communication. At work, cursing and foul language is the norm. Unfortunately sometimes, the same can be said for Christian circles. A deaf ear is turned to the regularity with which Christians curse. One of the disturbing trends in the heretical emergent church movement are pastors who curse regularly, such as Mark Driscoll; also known as the cussing pastor. Once again, what does the world see when they look upon the body of Christ? What are they supposed to see and hear?

    Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. - Ephesians 4: 29 (NLT)

    The English language is rich and diverse enough to get our point across without using profanity. If we want to find ourselves more in the Christian life we are supposed to be leading, Paul says - let's start with our mouths. Let's get rid of anger, wrath, malice, slander and filthy speech. Is this easy? Not in the world we live in but that should not stop us from striving towards being who Jesus wants us to be.

    Continuing on in verse nine we see that Jesus also does not want us to be lying to each other. There is a growing trend in Christian circles to have unity trump doctrine. That everyone who merely says the name of Christ must somehow be a brother or sister. That correcting error in love is somehow being Pharisaical or judgmental. The Bible simply does not support this. We are supposed to be helping one another in this walk. Iron does indeed sharpen iron. This "Kumbya Christianity" is not biblical and not helpful. The truth is what is supposed to matter.

    Going deeper however we see how the Apostle Paul relates these truths to us. The old sinful nature of lies, slander, malice, anger, rage, and foul language, as well as the wicked deeds they all lead to, were supposed to be stripped off of us. Who was supposed to strip these off of us? We were! Instead, we were supposed to put on our new nature in Christ. The clothing analogy he uses is quite fitting to make this more applicable to how we live. Who leaves their house unconcerned about what they are wearing? Who goes out in 20 degree weather wearing a bathing suit? Who goes out in 90 degree weather in an overcoat? Beyond the practical, who goes out without looking in the mirror to see if what they are wearing looks right? Who goes out wearing rotting clothing with holes and grime all over it? The answer of course is no one in the their right mind. That is exactly how we are supposed to approach the battle between our old self and new creation. It must be as conscious a decision as picking out what clothes to wear. We must strip off the old malice and old rage. We must discard the old slander and lies. We must make a conscious choice what it is that we put on each day that we go and represent Christ to a world that desperately needs Him.

    We must accomplish these things as part of our ongoing renewal process by learning to know our Creator and becoming more and more like him. Not by chasing the next big staged spiritual event. God has already revealed to us His will. It is called the Bible. When we look back over the spotted history of our faith we might wonder how so many could fall for such obvious deception such as the Holy Laughter movement or the false revivals in Pensacola or Lakeland? How could so many fall for the Prayer of Jabez prosperity nonsense, the purpose driven heresy or the witchcraft inspired Circle Maker? Because they were chasing the next great move of man instead of the established Word of God. We do not become more and more like our Creator except through prayer and reading His Word.

    It does not matter who we were as the key verses tell us today. It matters not if we were gentile or Jew. It matters not if we were American or African. What we used to wear is no longer who we are. We have stripped those clothes off for the new creation we all are supposed to be in Christ. It is Christ that now lives in us and beloved - He is all that matters. He is all that matters.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - February 10, 2014

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