Colossians 3:1-4

Steve Viars October 29, 1994 Colossians 3:1-4

- this morning we're going to move into chapter 3 of the book of
   Colossians.
- I don't know about you, but the more I study this book, the more
   convinced I am
     - the  American church in general
     - and our church in particular
     - and especially my own heart...

         - needs the message of this book.

- I can't think of many things that would be more relevant and practical
   for you and I to be studying (and challenging one another about) than
   the message of this book.

- I want to especially thank those of you who have worked at being
   faithful to SS -- and have done some study in this book on your own
   during the week
     - because surely this is important business.

- now, the book of Colossians is following a pattern that is very similar
   to many of Paul's other letters
    - in that the first half speaks of doctrinal truths, or positional
        truths
    - and the second half talks about the practical applications of those
       truths to specific areas of life.

- this morning, we're looking at verses 1-4 of chapter 3, which serve as
   the bridge between what we've studied so far, and what the Lord has
   for us in the days ahead if He tarries His coming.

Introduction:

- you could title these verses--What Is Your Relationship To The World?

- it's very important for believers to understand how we are supposed to
   relate to the world around us.

- we're not going to take time to fully develop that theme--but here's a
   some passages to get our minds thinking in that direction:

    1) John 17:18 - (our Lord said) - "As thou didst send me into the
        world, I also have sent them into the world."

    2) Matt. 28:19-20 - "Go therefore and make disciples of all
         nations..."

    3) Acts 1:8 - God has given believers the responsibility of spreading
         the gospel even "to the remotest part of the earth."

- so there's no question that God does not want us to extract ourselves
   from the world.  (the world of people)

    - if someone said, we're going to build a city out in the desert
        somewhere -- and only believers are going to be allowed in --
        that's the last place I'd want to live.

 

- John MacArthur, in his commentary on these verses, makes a good point
   when he says, "Paradoxically, before Christians can reach the world,
   they must first leave it."

- thats why the Scripture says things like:

   1) (Christ) gave "Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out
        of this present age."

   2) Believers are of Christ's kingdom, which is not of this world (John
       18:36.

   3) We have overcome the world because of our faith in Christ (I John
       5:4-5).

- now again, we could develop that topic a lot more, getting into
   different ways the Scripture uses the word "world" and so on--but
   we've made the point we need to make in order to move into chapter 3,
   and that is that you and I must be regularly asking the question:
     - what is my relationship with the world?
     - and how does that stack up with what the Bible says about my
        relationship with the world?

- with those thoughts in mind, let's read 3:1-4

- we said earlier that these verses are a transition between what we
  studied last week and what we are going to study in the weeks ahead.
- that’s especially true in the first part of verse 1, where Paul says:

I. Believers Have A New Position

    - "positional truths" are those things that happened to you and me as
        soon as we trusted Christ.
    - literally dozens and dozens of things immediately become true of a
       person when they repent of their sin and accept the free gift of
       salvation in Christ.

    - Paul says that one of those things is that you are "risen with
       Christ."
    - when he begins that phrase with "if", he's not questioning whether
       its happened.
        - it's a first class condition and is best translated as "since."

        - every person who is genuinely saved has "risen with Christ."

    - positional truth comes up again in verse 3 when he says what?
       (you are dead)

    - now this sounds very familiar to what we've already studied.
    - Where have these concepts already been mentioned?
        - verses 11-15

    - remember, we said last week, that when a person trusts Christ, they
       are brought into "union with him."
         - we are identified with his death, burial, and resurrection

         - we die to sin and self
         - we are raised to a new life in Christ


- I realize that those are high and lofty truths
   - but if you and I are going to develop the right relationship to the
      world, we've got to become more skilled at thinking on who we are
      in Christ (or what our position is in Christ).

- let's take a small "vignette" for the purpose of seeing how positional
    truth can change the way we handle life.

- Frank and Mary have been married 15 years.
   - both have been saved in the last 5 years.
   - marriage is good in a lot of ways but Mary does some things that
       really bother Frank.
   - one of them is--she doesn't always record the checks she's written
      in the checkbook register.

   - Frank's habit is to blow up when that happens, and stomp around, and
      call names, and act as if the world is coming to an end.

   - on this day, Frank is at Wal-Mart, and he writes check #953, and he
      looks in the checkbook register and the last check recorded in the
      register is check #949.

      - what Frank does, and what Frank thinks, is going to reveal a lot
         about his spiritual maturity.
      - the issue of his position in Christ can be a great benefit to
         him.
           INPUT - how?

              1) By recognizing that he's died to sin--therefore he isn't
                   a slave to sinful habits
                     - he doesn't have to respond to this in the same
                       old sinful way
              2) he also need to recognize that he's died to self--
                   therefore he ought to be wondering--what is God's
                   purpose here?
              3) he also needs to mull over the fact that he is now a new
                   man in Christ--and that perhaps God has given him this
                   situation as an opportunity to react differently than
                   he ever has before.

- good question to ask is -- are we benefiting from all the truth God
   has revealed to us about our position in Christ?

- as you and I are doing that, the verses are "crystal clear" about what
   ought to be happening.
- the rest of verse one says, "seek those things which are above, where
    Christ sits at the right hand of God."

II. Therefore, Believers Should Have A New Direction

    - Christians are always to be in the process of bringing their
       practice in line with their position.
    - there's always a gap between who were are positionally in heaven,
       and what God wants us to be here on earth.
         - we ought to constantly be seeking to close that gap.

    - Paul is very clear in these verses about what that ought to look
        like.

    - he says, I need to talk to you about what you're "seeking"
      - not like, seeking something that is lost
         - but more like "seeking to obtain something."
- today, we would say it more like, what are you going after?, what are
   you trying to achieve?, what is your direction?

   - so this has everything to do with goals and motivation and drive.
     - by the way, it's a present tense verb, you could rightly
        translate it, "seek and keep on seeking"
           - or, "go after, and keep on going after"

   - now let's put a couple of other things along side of this from this
      verse and then think about some applications:

   - INPUT - what does the verse say should be the direction of what I'm
       seeking, or trying to obtain.
        - (the things that are above)

   - obvious question is - "what are those things?"
      - the answer comes in the rest of the verse:
          "where Christ sits on the right hand of God."

    - INPUT - what do you think of when you think of the phrase, "the
        right hand of God?"
          - the place of God's authority
          - the place of God's plan and program
          - what the heavenly Father is wanting to see accomplished

    - we're talking about a "heavenly preoccupation"
    - we're talking about developing the desire and the ability to go
        after (to seek, to want to obtain) the same thing in a given
        situation that our heavenly Father wants to see obtained in that
        situation.

    - a key question this morning is -- could your speech and your
       behavior rightly be characterized as having a heavenly pre-
       occupation?

         - in everything God brings into our life, big and small, He has
            a purpose
              - From the perspective of the throne of heaven, He wants
                 something accomplished as a result of everything that
                 happens to you and me.

         - you and I ought to ask, on an average day, how concerned am I
            about that?
- Vance Havner once said, "The tragedy of the times is that we are so
   obsessed with the temporal that we are ignorant of the eternal."

- picture it this way:
   - think of the child who's mom gives him five dollars and asks him to
      go to the store and buy mild, eggs, and bread.

     - the mom has a definite goals in mind for what that child is to do.
        - but she has trusted him to make her goals--his goals.

     - but we all know what very well may happen (probably because some
        of us did this at one time or another)
         - the boy gets to the store with the five dollars--and doesn't
             get past the candy rack.

         - he's heading home, mouth bulging with candy, happy as a lark,
            completely unconcerned or unaware of the trouble that's about
            to face.

- that’s the kind of lifestyle that Paul is trying to argue you and me out
   of.
     - how many believers become so preoccupied with the things of this
        earth that what God wants to see accomplished is swept aside.

- now, let's work together at thinking about different areas of life that
   this truth might affect.
- how would you fill in this blank?

    - Your _______ reveals what you're seeking after.  Or, your ________
        reveals your level of "heavenly preoccupation."


- now, this thought is developed further in verse 2: (READ)

III. Therefore, Believers Should Have A New Mindset

    - verse one is especially talking about speech and behavior
        - what we do with our outer bodies

    - but of course, as in many other places in Scripture, we're taught
       here that our behavior is determined by our thinking.

    - the new direction (goals) of verse 1 are made possible by the new
        mindset of verse 2

    - set your affection, or set your set your mind
    - by the way, that too is a present imperative
        - Amplified version - "set your minds and keep them set"

    - INPUT - what are our thoughts supposed to be set on?
        (the things above--i.e. the same things we were talking about
           under verse 1)

     - see, do you have a heavenly mindset?
       - if we could scroll through your thoughts (the way we scroll
          through a document on our computer screens) would we see clear
          evidence of heavenly mindedness?

- that's why the Scripture makes such an emphasis of the fact that we are
    not citizens of this earth.

    1) Heb. 11:13 - "we are strangers and exiles on the earth."

    2) Heb. 13:14 - "here we do not have a lasting city, but we are
         seeking the city which is to come."

    3) Phil. 3:20 - "Our citizenship is in heaven, from also we eagerly
         wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

- see, you and I need to ask ourselves, are we heavenly minded?

- now, I realize, someone might say:
   "well, it's possible to be so heavenly minded you're no earthly good."

   - I think we would have two responses to that:

      1) then that’s not genuine heavenly mindedness

          - genuine heavenly mindedness always results in earthly good
          - that’s the argument of the book
- Paul is about to move into specific, practical areas of the Christian
   life where you and I often struggle

   - but he knows that we're not going to be able to change in those
      practical areas if we're pre-occupied with the world.

   - so genuine heavenly mindedness always produces earthly good.

   2) Most of us are not in any danger of being too heavenly minded.

      - this statement might have some value in pointing out a possible
         ditch, but most of us are no where near it!

- Paul concludes this section with some truths that we can organize
   around the fact that:

IV. Believers have A New Life

    A. Your life is hidden with Christ

        - In what sense is this true?

          1) when you're saved, you're no longer on your own.

              I Cor. 6:17 - the one who joins Himself to the Lord is one
                 spirit with Him."

              in Christ, we are "partakers of the divine nature" - II
                Peter 1:4

              - that ought to give us great hope because we're not
                  talking about having a "complete life reorientation" on
                  our own.

                  - Gal. 2:20

          2) it is concealed from the world

              - the more you and I live in a way that is consistent with
                what these verses are teaching, the more those around who
                don't know Christ are going to be mystified.
              - a person who wants to life for God is not going to make
                  sense to a person who wants to live for this world.

    B. Christ is our life

        - we're not talking about some sort of spooky "let go and let
            God" -- or "just let Jesus do it through you" kind of a thing
        - but nor are we talking about "pulling ourselves up by our own
            spiritual bootstraps."
              - or accomplishing what these verses are saying in and of
                 ourselves

        - the fact that Jesus Christ is risen encourages us for many
            reasons--and one of them is that He stands ready to help, and
            bless, and strengthen the man or woman who wants to live for
            Him.

    C. One day, these truths will be revealed

        - it's true that we're talking about living for a God we cannot
           see
- we're talking about setting our minds and behavior on something that we
   must take by faith.

- but the day is coming when glory of God's Person, and plan, and program
   will be revealed.

- on that day, you and I will surely be glad that we tried to set our
   affection on things above, and not on the things of this earth.

Conclusion - this is hard.
  - true
  - that’s why Paul was praying that this church would have spiritual
      understanding in chapter 1.

  - that’s why Paul has been emphasizing the preeminence of Christ

  - that’ why he exposed the three wrong approaches to growing in Christ
      - legalism, mysticism, and asceticism
      - everyone of them is a shallow, simplistic substitution for
         Christian growth

    - Christian growth requires the kind of process we've been studying.
    - but the results are surely worth it.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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