Thursday, May 10, 2012

Christian Freedom part IV

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
- Colossians 3:1-11

Now we are getting deeper into the meat and potatoes of what Christian freedom really is.  I have been discussing for the last couple of days what we are free from.  Today, we explore why we are free and what that freedom means.

Why are we free?  The answer is in the very first part of verse 1, because we have been raised with Christ.  Since we have been raised with Christ, we should seek the things of heaven, where Jesus is seated in power and glory at the right hand of God.

The most valuable penny minted in the US is a 1944 steel wheat penny.  If I had a steel wheat penny, it would be worth $70,000 to $100,000.  If I lost that penny, I would be seeking it for all I had.  I would not sit around and wait for the rare penny to find me.  Rather, I would have every piece of furniture in my house upended, I would walk miles to retrace every step, and I would spend countless hours trying to find the penny.  In the same way one would seek out the rare penny, we should seek the things above.  The things above are far more valuable and weightier than a rare penny.

Not only are we to seek the things above, but we also are to set our mind on the things above.  Have you ever seen a small child set their mind on something, maybe a candy bar?  They are relentless in their pursuit to get that candy bar.  Or in the case of the rare penny, if I lost it, I would set my mind to finding it, I would be focused entirely on finding it.  We to, should be relentless in our pursuit for the things above.

We need to consider ourselves dead to the things of this world.  Our lives now belong in Christ as our lives are hidden in Him.  Notice how it says, “When Christ, who is your life…”  Not only do our lives belong to Him and are hidden in Him, but He becomes our life. 

Why the relentless pursuit for the things above?  So that when Jesus appears again, we will appear in glory with Jesus.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  We will appear with Jesus beholding glory that not even Moses could withstand.

We must, therefore, put to death that which is earthly.  My senior pastor has a saying, “Whenever Paul writes the word ‘therefore’ we must look back to see what it’s there for.”  In this case we need to put to death that which is earthly because we have died, because our lives are hidden in Him, because He is our life, and because we will appear with Him in glory!

The earthly things are sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  These things are sin that comes from the heart (Mark 7:20-22).  Our cry must be the same as the psalmist of Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God!”

Notice that Paul lists the sins and then says, “On the account of these, the wrath of God is coming.”  This isn’t Old Testament we’re reading.  We’re reading directly out of the New Testament.  Yes, God’s wrath is going to come against those who are practicing sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire, and covetousness.  There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Before we came to Christ, we were walking in those things but we must no longer walk in them.  It is my personal opinion that the reminder that we were once walking in those things is so that we would be able to have compassion on those who are currently walking on those things.  So that we might reach out to them and introduce them to Jesus.

Because Jesus is our life, we must not act out in anger or malice.  When someone wrongs us, we must not take wrath on them.  We must not slander one another.  When we are committed to Christ, our walk changes, the way we see things changes, and so does the way we talk.  We must put away all the obscene talk from our mouths.

Say I was attending a very formal evening wedding, but I had been working in the yard all day long, I would not want to show up at the wedding in my dirty, smelly work clothes.  No, I would take off the dirty clothes, cleanse myself, and put on new clothes.  Before we were saved, we were wearing dirty, smelly clothes.  Now that we are saved, we are wearing attire suited for a formal wedding.  Why would we want to soil our formal attire with the things of this world?  So, we should not lie to each other or practice the dirty things of the world.

We are being renewed in knowledge after the image of the Creator.  This is language that speaks of a process.  The more we grow closer to God, the more we become like Him.  We will begin to think His thoughts.  So we must put the old stuff away, those old things are not suited for a child of the King.

There is no Greek or Jew, no circumcised or uncircumcised, no barbarian or Scythian, there is no slave or free.  Jesus is all and is in all.  We are all set free in Him.  His salvation is not about who you are but who Jesus is.

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