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

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. - Colossians 3: 5-7 (NLT)

    We hear often about living the Christian life. Living the victorious life. How we are a new creation in Christ. The old is gone and the new has come - hallelujah! Then we have to get back into the grind of life within a fallen world and a backslidden church and if we were to be honest with ourselves; sometime we don't feel so new. Sometimes we feel rather old. Our struggles often revolve around the sense that we know we are supposed be different yet our lives do not seem to reflect it as often as we would like. Even the great Apostle Paul shared this struggle:

    I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? - Romans 7: 21-24 (NLT)

    The answer of course is Jesus Christ but the application of that knowledge is sometimes difficult to say the least. So we return to the opening 17 verses of Chapter Three of Paul's epistle to the Church at Colossae. We pick up our exposition at verse five to continue to see the instructions God has provided for us regarding living the new life He gave us through His Son. The first part of verse five teaches us to remember that the things of this world still lurk inside if us. They were not magically wiped away at salvation. We are still human and still bound in flesh. Sometimes Christians fail to understand that the battle rages on. This is why the hyper grace heresy is so dangerous; because it encourages one to not worry about sin. We are always bound by the principle of sowing and reaping. If we sow to our flesh we will reap a harvest of pain. If we sow to our Spirit, we will reap a harvest of blessings. This ultimately boils down our struggle. The more we sow to our Spirit - that means do things according to the Spirit, the more we will find ourselves in a blessed condition. The more we sow to the things of this world, the more danger we place our lives in.

    Continuing in verse five we see some of the exact things we need to have nothing to do with. The first two deal with actions - sexual immorality and impurity. The latter two deal with our focus, what we think about - lust and evil desires. We must recognize their connection if we are to be successful in avoiding them. Jesus taught:

    “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye[l]—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. - Matthew 5: 27-30 (NLT)

    Jesus did not just deal with the end result but the heart issue from where it was birthed. We constantly dance with the devil and think we are strong enough in the end to resist the final temptation but our heart is wickedly deceitful amongst all things according to the Bible. Just remember that when we dance with the devil he always insists on leading. This is what God is saying here in Colossians. You cannot expect victory over sexual immorality and impurity without winning the battle over lust and evil desires. Easily said preacher but how do we do that?

    For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. - 2Corinthians 10: 3-5 (NIV)

    Too often we still try to fight a spiritual war with carnal means. We think that under our own power we can accomplish that which can only be accomplished through the power of God. The alcoholic can avoid bars successfully for a certain amount of time but unless he stops the thoughts and desires to drink, it is merely putting a band-aid on a wound that needs a tourniquet. The sinful, earthly things lurking inside of us are not of God. They are in fact arguments and pretensions (lies) set up by Satan. If you watched the Grammys last night you saw the complete self indulgence our society has sunk to. Songs about doing whatever you want to because you only live once permeated the atmosphere. The issue is not that we only live once beloved. The issue is we only die once and we better make sure when we do that we are ready for the judgment that follows. So, these lies and arguments must be taken captive at the thought stage and made obedient to Christ, otherwise we will act upon them. The story of David and Bathsheba displays this. David is entertaining lust and evil desires when he spies Bathsheba bathing. He has not sinned yet but he is starting to dance. He sends someone to find out about her and word comes back that says she is not only married but married to one of his loyal soldiers who is currently fighting for him. The thoughts going through his mind propping up his evil desires must have been strong. He must have thought he was entitled - after all he was king! He must have felt like no one would ever know! At this point if he took those thoughts captive and made them obedient to Christ by realizing that adultery of course is forbidden by God and that God will bring all things to light that we do in darkness, he could have avoided the transition into sin. It is not impossible! Joseph was a 17 year old boy with the same raging hormones as all 17 year old boys and yet when Potiphar's wife demanded he sleep with her, he made his thoughts obedient to Christ:

    But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. - Genesis 39: 8-10 (NIV)

    Joseph was no plaster saint beloved. He was real flesh and blood. You know he had some evil desires and lust happening right about now. Yet, how does Joseph make his thoughts and evil desires obedient to God? By making the decision about God! How can I do this to God! I know it is difficult. But the secret to winning these battles is in making every issue we face to be about God.

    Continuing on in verse five we see God separates out the sin of greed. God is no fool. He knows everything that is ever going to happen. Sometimes we read verses and think how prescient they are to the times we live in today but realize that God knew what we would be facing today and the Word was written for today as well. We live in a greed focused society and a power hungry world. Not only does the world encourage dying with the most toys but it seems lately you get extra style points for how many people you had to step on or over to get them. Look at the words here in Colossians. Do not be greedy for a greedy person is an idolater! Idolatry is one of the most talked about sins in the entire Bible. Sometimes as Christians we hear the world idolatry and we think of ancient civilizations who bowed down to statues. The truth is that idolatry is anything that is set up to be worshiped instead of God. Anything more important to us than God. You may be sitting there thinking there is nothing in your life you place before God but pause a moment and reflect on your life. What about you children? God asked Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his child of promise. What about money? God asked the rich young ruler to give all to the poor because he saw in his heart that money was more important to him than God. Beloved, we always put things before God and we do not even realize we do it. Our career, relationships, or even...ministries! I remember once in one of my ministries I felt I was passed over for a higher spot in the ministry and my flesh rose up. As I prayed later God asked me one question - who are you doing it for?

    Now you may say what do these things have to do with greed but read the end of the verse and see that an idolater basically worships the things of this world! Add to this that now we have to contend with churches that strive to look more and more like the world they are supposed to be different from. The end result is idolatry in the church as well. I have seen far too much pastor idolizing; where protecting the man is more important than the purity of the Gospel. I have also seen far to much church idolizing; where the physical building is more important than whether the people running it are actually following the Bible. I have seen ministry idolizing where we fall for the lie that it is OUR ministry when in reality it is supposed to be always about Him. As for actual greed, we have churches built upon greed, that openly teach greed, and claim God will honor our greed. I have always had people ask me if I think God wants to prosper us materially and the more I read the Bible the more it is obvious to me that if that is the question on your mind then the answer is no. If our heart is set upon the things of this world through greed then by definition we are idolaters and God would rather make us destitute and in line with Him than ensure we live comfortably in a world we are supposed to be pilgrims and sojourners through.

    Verses six and seven deal with two simple facts. The first of which is that it is because of sins like this that the anger of God is coming. The wrath of God is a theological concept simply ignored in most churches today. It is not considered very seeker friendly. That does not change, nor impress God. So forget all the kumbya Christianity, this is your best life now, seven steps to a better you, sow your seed and God will throw open the windows of heaven, grace allows you to not worry about sin anymore, I just preach love and everything else is a conversation blather and absolute nonsense! There is a God and He is coming back soon; not as the Lamb but as the Lion. There will be only two sides on that day beloved. Those whose names appear in the Lamb's Book of Life and those that do not. There is no third road. You are either on the narrow path to eternal life or the broad path that leads to destruction. I know this message does not focus group test well but on that day we will have no excuse. We cannot say "my church didn't tell me."

    Verse seven's simple fact is that all these things we are talking about we used to do when our life was still part of this world. That may seem obvious but the overarching point I think God is making here is that we have to decide which world we are in! So much of our difficulty is rooted firmly in trying to sit on a fence between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.

    Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. - 2Corinthians 4: 4 (NLT)

    Make no mistake about it beloved. This world is ruled by the enemy. When we dabble in it, we dabble with the enemy. When we pitch our tents towards the world, as Lot once did, we eventually find ourselves living in it. This is why the Bible says to not be unequally yoked. This is why the Bible says to have nothing to do with the works of darkness. These two worlds are completely opposed to each other. Don't we realize this? The ultimate goal of the kingdom of Satan is to destroy the kingdom of God! Just watch the Grammys last night and you would have seen demonic imagery in the song sung by former Christian singer, Katy Perry! This is why it gets so frustrating to watch Christians fight over the evils in a world that is supposed to be evil! This is why dominionist theology is so wrong! There is only one person who can clean this world and that is Jesus. He does not need our help in cleaning it either. All He has asked is that we share His Gospel with as many people as possible between now and the day He returns. That means the entire Gospel - not just the parts we think they want to hear. I have heard the purpose driven mentality about scaring off potential converts. Where would we scare them to? Hell number two? Christ's return will be like a thief in the night so if you have the opportunity - preach the Gospel!

    Beloved the Christian life in this world is not easy and Jesus said it would not be easy. It requires sacrifice of who we were in order to become who we should be. It requires losing our present life to become that new creation in Christ. It requires picking up our cross daily and sharing in His sufferings. None of this may sound purpose driven or seeker friendly. It was not meant to. It was only meant to save your soul.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - January 27, 2014

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