Becoming Whole in Christ
A Change that is Lasting and Real – Colossians 3:1-11
Pastor Doug Klein
“I’m a changed person.” What a beautiful thing to hear, but is it really true? Is it really lasting? How many times have we heard a family member or friend boldly proclaim that “things will be different now?” So is it true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Possibly, except for one vital fact. Believers in Christ aren’t dogs and what Christ produces in believers is far more than new tricks.
The Bible asserts that we shall be changed and that we are in the process of being changed. Jesus produces a change that is lasting and real.
The first principle is 1.) Look down deep inside. What is driving me? Colossians 3:5-8.
The Bible is not simply providing us a list of sins that we are asked to check off as we walk with Christ. God is not a killjoy, as many suspect, looking to crush any sense of pleasure. He has given us everything for us to enjoy in His ways. He is also acutely concerned with freeing us from the idols of our hearts that produce death in us. He desires us to see that everyone (believers and unbelievers alike) have functional saviors that we really rely on in the crunch times of life.
So it is critical that we begin to understand what is really driving us. Our emotions are an integral part of who we are. They are impacted by our fallen nature just like every other aspect of our personality.
So instead of just stopping sinful behavior, it’s imperative that we understand WHY we do things and how our deceit has caused us to settle for lesser gods that will not satisfy us. Why am I so anxious about certain things? What is about the Gospel that I don’t believe that is causing me to be filled with worry and fear? What is really driving me and perhaps more importantly, “what is drowning me?”
The beauty of the Gospel is that God is transforming our desires so that we actually no longer desire to do the very things that have been destroying us. I simply do not want that anymore. I am not the same person.
We need to be reminded that everyone is converted to something or someone. The notion that only Christians are out to convert people is simply not true. Everyone has been converted to some particular world view. An agnostic, for example, has a very specifically defined world view. There are always certain assumptions and parameters. We will be converted to whoever or whatever we have given our hearts to.
When Paul speaks about passion and evil desires in verse 5, he is focusing on our obsession with good things. He is pointing to the overdrive of our energy that desires good things way too much. God has given us everything for our enjoyment. We distort his gifts, however, when we use them in ways that are contrary to his will.
The second principle is 2.) Look up to Christ. Who is Saving me? Colossians 3:1-4
The Bible is replete with examples of how our idols abandon us and leave us hopeless and empty. We don’t continue to obsess over our lives or our sin. The focus is not on us. The focus is always on Jesus. Paul in verses 1-4, is using the language of identity. To be raised with Christ is to see ourselves in a whole new light. To be seated with Christ at the right hand of God is not something we deserve. It’s the glorious fruit of the Gospel that we have been given by grace. To be seated spiritually at the right hand of God with Christ is to receive an honor that only Christ deserves.
We are so heavenly minded that we are very much earthly good. We no longer have to keep a tight grip on everything in our lives. We are free to live in freedom and without fear. So the thrust of his passage is truly to “turn our eyes upon Jesus.” We look into his glory and grace. And the things of earth do become strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.
The third principle is 3.) Look forward in hope. Where is he taking me? Colossians 3: 9-11.
The putting on and putting off of the old and new self is a picture of what is taking place in our lives through the Gospel. We can’t keep doing the same old stuff. We are new people. In the same way that we discard old torn clothing that no longer fits us, we now take off those things in our lives that are no longer consistent with our new life in Christ. It no longer fits us. We put on our new identity each day. Even when we don’t feel like a person, we are reminded of God’s constant renewal taking place in our lives.
The same divisions no longer divide us. In our fellowship, there is no longer slave nor free, etc. The putting on our Christ is a reminder of the transformative power of our new affection. Our hearts will always worship something: that’s the way God designed us. Our heart is not a placid brook or stream. It is a raging fire that will never be satisfied with anything less than the GREATER fire of Christ’s glory. The power of a new and greater affection is the only thing that can expel our old idolatrous affection.
I can’t settle with these dirty old rags of clothing any longer. I am starting to look different from the inside out. Christ is all and is in all. He’s the only One who can produce a real and lasting change. What a glorious Savior!
Faith Presbyterian Church
May 22, 2016