Monday, April 29, 2013

THE SERMON that turned my emotions around...


As promised, here are Pastor Lee Epstein's notes and the link to be able to listen to the sermon that impacted me so strongly on Sunday. http://newheightschurch.com/listen
At some point, it will not be the top sermon, so be sure to search for:

Colossians 3:1-17 Put on the new self

Sunday, April 28, 2013
Lee Epstein


     Introduction: Welcome back to our series in the book of Colossians – This week as we come to Colossians 3, we move from doctrine to conduct. Now this is typical of the apostle Paul that after giving us so much doctrine he moves us to the practical.

     Just a quick word of warning: The danger is to go into one of two ditches: One ditch is “I don’t need doctrine – it’s boring - just tell me what to do, make it practical.” Here’s the problem with that – No doctrine and just practical can lead to being heretical. Then there’s the other ditch: “I just want doctrine and no practice – just feed me with deep theology.”  Here’s the problem with that – All doctrine and no practice usually leads to a dead faith. Paul is always trying to keep the tension between the two…

     So this morning we’re going to make the transition from doctrine to duty and we’ll do it first by looking at our position in Jesus and then secondly by our practice… 

Our Position vv.1-4 – In this verses we establish the foundation that allows us to put our faith vv.5-17 into practice!
Our Practice vv.5-17

     It’s interesting to note that the pagan religions of Paul’s day taught little or nothing about personal morality: A worshipper could bow before an idol, put his offering on the altar, and go back to the same old life of sin. What a person believed had no direct relationship with how he behaved. Christianity should be much different.  

     Please open your Bibles to Colossians 3:1-4

      Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

     As Jim taught last week, since we died with Christ, we don’t have to follow the rules of a hollow and deceptive philosophy. Colossians 3:1 establishes the truth that since we’ve been raised with Christ, we have a new status and therefore a new way of life. We now have a power source for living. Believers have died with Christ, been buried with Him, have been raised with Him, and as Ephesians 2:6 states, we have been seated with Him in the heavenly places. This is our position, but we must appropriate these truths on a daily basis in order to break free from the past.

     That’s why Paul writes, “…set your hearts on things above.”  He knows our hearts are prone to wander – our hearts are prone to run after the things on this earth – we tend to pursue those things we can taste, touch and feel. The verb “set” is in the present imperative, which means a continuous ongoing effort is required – that is, we are to persistently seek and keep on seeking!  It’s not just a one-time decision, but is to be a daily activity. And this heavenly seeking is done through tenacious prayer - Jesus put it this way in…Matthew 7:7-8 
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
     The first command is to “set our hearts on things above.” The second is to “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.” This literally translates, “Keep on thinking, as a matter of habit, on things above, not on things on the earth.” But how do we do this? We start with Philippians 4:8 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

     Okay Lee that sounds good but a little too ethereal, a little too “out there”. How do we make it more practical? Go back to verses 3-4 and we’re going to break those down and see that we’re given five reasons/five ways to look up. If we’re going to set our hearts and minds on things above and not on this earth the first thing we have to do is acknowledge that…

1.    We’ve died – look at verse 3

     This looks back to the cross, where metaphorically speaking, we died in Christ. As a result, we no longer have to live like we used to. Galatians 2:20 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

     Second reason to look up is…

2.    Our life is (now) hidden with Christ:

     The image here is treasure that is stored away in a secure place. Like a seed buried in the earth, our real lives are hidden from the world, only to be revealed when Christ returns. Third reason to look up is now…

3.    Christ is our (complete and total) life:

. In John 14:6, Jesus said this about himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the (definite article “the” one and only) life…” By realizing that Christ is our life, we now think differently - we have a new attitude about anything that happens to us. If He is truly our life, we have nothing to fear. Fourth reason to look up is because…

4.     (Jesus is coming back!): Christ will come again:

     Since Jesus is coming again, it only makes sense that we should be looking up on a continuous basis.

5.    We will appear with Him in Glory:

     The verb, “appear” means “to make visible what is invisible.” Get this – this is really cool: When Christ returns, the real position of the believer, which has been hidden to the world, will be made known. When Jesus is revealed in His glory, we’ll be totally transformed. Look at 1 John 3:2 

2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

    Now Paul is going to take us from our position to our practice – we come down off the mountain and we start to get practical, we start to deal with our stuff and he does this by giving us two lists of things that we need to work on in our lives. The first five on the list refer to sexual sins and the second five to sins of speech. Okay, let’s deal with sexual sins first – Please notice that we’re not just to put them aside. We’re not to wound them or even ask them to leave. We’re not to experiment or play around with them, rationalize them or even explain them away. Instead, we’re to kill them. Colossians 3:5-7 

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.

     Some of you are not going to like hearing about these sins. Maybe you came to church today to be encouraged with a positive message. You came for a warm hug this morning. And I get that - nobody likes a warm hug more than I do but here’s another way to look at it. God loves us too much to allow us to mess up our lives with sexual sins.
     All right let’s jump into our list - What must we put to death? First thing we put to death is…
Immorality: The Greek word here is the word porneia. It is the word from which we get our word for pornography. The word refers to any sexual relationship outside the context of marriage. I realize that this is a sensitive issue but God is pretty clear on this…1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 

     3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Impurity
Lust
Evil Desires
Greed

     But Paul isn’t finished with his list, he continues by listing five attitudes and sins of speech we must get rid of. Colossians 3:8-11 

8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Look at verse 8 again

 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things…

     “…rid yourselves” literally means to “put off” or “disrobe”. In other words the old, filthy clothes must be taken off before we can put on new clothes. Ill: Video – clothes they took off. Already we’ve take off things like…

     So, besides putting to death sexual sins, what must we get rid of?

What we must get rid of:
Anger
Rage
Malice
Slander
Filthy Language
     Let me remind us that Paul doesn’t give us these two lists because he wants us to be social do-gooders but he gives us these lists that we might live in freedom without guilt so that we might do the things that matter. He gives us these lists that we might live out our calling as image bearers of the most high God! Look at verse 12…
Colossians 3:12 

     12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

     So the old filthy clothes have been taken off so what do we put on? Five articles of spiritual clothing to put on as God’s chosen, set-apart, peculiar people…

Five articles of clothing to put on:

Compassion

Kindness: The Greek word for kindness is also used to describe a lovely quality of wine that has grown mellow with age. In other words, it has lost its harshness. That's what kindness is, treating another without harshness. Kindness is treating another person with respect and honor. It is attributing value and dignity to another.

Humility: The third article of clothing is humility. Humility is the opposite of pride.

     A young lady at New Heights went to Jim one Sunday and said, "Jim, I have this reoccurring sin that I struggle with and I want your help.” Jim said, “What is it maybe I can help?” She said, “I come to church on Sundays and I can't help thinking that I'm literally the prettiest girl at New Heights. I know I shouldn’t think that, but I can't help it. I want you to help me with it."
     Jim thought about it for a second and in his usual Jim way said, "I wouldn’t worry about it. In your case it's not a sin. It's just a horrible mistake."
     Humility is anchored in an accurate understanding of our own significance.
Gentleness
     This encompasses consideration of others, submission to God and His Word - Biblical gentleness says, “I’ll give up my rights for the sake of another.”
Patience

     The actual word is long-suffering – It’s one who puts up with people who irritate. We may have the right to retaliate but instead we choose patience.

     So what happens when we put on the clothing of Jesus? Our lives look different – what do they look like…v.13

Colossians 3:13

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

     When we put on the clothing of Jesus we put up with each other – all our stupid petty stuff that we do and not only that but we forgive each other just like Jesus forgave us.
     But you say, “Lee what happens when we don’t forgive?”
     I believe that one of the greatest barriers to effective prayer and spiritual power is an unforgiving heart. Look at what the famous evangelist D.L. Moody once said when it comes to forgiveness or the lack thereof…

“I believe unforgiveness is keeping more people from having power with God than any other thing -- they are not willing to cultivate the spirit of forgiveness. If we allow the root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts against someone, our prayer will not be answered. It may not be an easy thing to live in sweet fellowship with all those with whom we come in contact; but that is what the grace of God is given to us for.” (D.L. Moody)
. Are you having trouble praying with power? Are you having trouble serving Jesus?  Could it be that there is someone you need to forgive? Write down that name or names and start to do business with God right now – and then maybe this afternoon you can give them a call or visit them and try to make things right.
     Look at the verse again: When we forgive we reflect the Father's love. The standard is this: forgive as He has forgiven you. Forgiveness gives us the opportunity to extend to others what God has extended to us.
     So what happens when we put on the clothing of Jesus?  Not only do we forgive but we love… Colossians 3:14

14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

     Love is the glue that holds everything together. Look at some of these NT passages about love – I took them all from the Message.

(The Message)

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Romans 13:8-10

Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.

Galatians 5:14

For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself.
     Please hear this: The greatest need in the church today is not some great demonstration of power. It is not even a more solid theology or great preaching. What is needed most today is people in God’s church to love without conditions and qualifiers. This is the only way to energize the body of Christ. This is the only way for the church to become a family – this is the only for the church to impact the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Colossians 3:15-17

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Conclusion:

I want to finish this morning by having Josh Graber share his thoughts on these three verses – Josh leads our worship meetings every Tuesday and I couldn’t think of a person whose more passionate and insightful about the Word of God than Josh – especially when it comes to these verses.