Living the new life in Christ

July 1st, 2017

The title of my message today is “Four Things to Remember while Living the New Life in Christ”. It comes from Colossians 3:1-17. In our passage today it gives us some pointers to help us live effectively for Jesus.

This message is a little bit different to my last two messages I have shared here. The last two were in-depth teachings with application points. This one is more of a general encouragement from today’s passage. I even have props to help us remember.

Reading – Colossians 3:1-17

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.

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. 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.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

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.

Message Points

Now this text has a lot in it and I think you could actually write a book about it. Prayerfully and probably thankfully I found as I looked at the text God wanted me to draw four things out for us all today. There is nothing really new in what I am going to say. It is more about reminding us, because as Christians we need reminders every now and then. They help us to stay on track.

1. Remember to focus on heavenly things (v1-2)

Verses 1-2 talk about things like setting our hearts and minds on things above. Verse 1 uses the term focus our hearts on things above. We are drawn towards things we love. We do nice things for those we love. Verse 2 uses the term setting our minds on things above. It is a deliberate and intentional focussing of our hearts and thoughts towards God and His Kingdom.

When Paul says to set our hearts and minds on heaven he does not mean that we should never think about the things upon the earth, but he is saying that these things should not be our main aim, our main goal, or our master.

When we focus our hearts and minds on heavenly things we see God’s bigger picture. We still may have problems and struggles along our journey, but if our focus is on heaven, our lives take on an eternal perspective. We are able to be lifted above the current struggles that face us today. Viewing our lives through an eternal perspective gives us peace and comfort and a sense of purpose. It reminds is that we have a destiny and that we are part of God’s grand plan.

I love the line from that great hymn Amazing Grace – when we have been there 10,000 years, we have only just begun. After 10,000 years we have only just scratched the surface of eternity. We need to remember death is not the full stop at the end of the book, it is the full stop at the end of the first chapter. Our lives must therefore have an eternal perspective. We must focus on heavenly things if we are to live out this new life in Christ.

Rope illustration – Coloured one end to show this life and the longer white end represents the time we will spend in eternity.

1 Peter 1:23 – For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

2. Remember to put off our old earthly nature

If you look carefully at this passage you see there are five things of the flesh and five things of the mouth that we need to get rid of. Flesh = sexual immorality, impurity, lust, greed and evil desires. Mouth = rage, malicious behaviour, slander, lying and dirty language.

In the Colossians church people had infiltrated the church with the goal to diminish the deity of Christ and to downplay the importance of living right. They reasoned that because the body is made of flesh and it will return to the ground, then it was ok to live you wanted. They believed that an everything goes lifestyle was ok and that you would still be right with God. They figured your spirt would be right with God so everything will be ok. Paul writes to counter these things. Paul writes to remind the people that it is important to live right while walking with Christ.

Black shirt illustration – covered in 10 behaviours to put off.

Getting rid of these things may take time, but we need to remember that at the moment we received Jesus into our hearts and life the Holy Spirit washes us clean and gives us a new nature. Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning.” This is known as the Doctrine of Regeneration. It is a work of God that the Holy Spirit does in our lives when we come to Christ.

At that moment when we accept Christ we are also Sanctified. Sanctification is a two-part process. To sanctify means to be set apart for a holy use. So when we accept Christ we are sanctified or set apart. Sanctification is also the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. It is an ongoing moral and spiritual transformation. If we look back at our lives 5, 10 or 15 years ago we should see very different people to who we are today.

If we do the right things and allow God to work in our lives, they will slowly drop away. We need to be reading the Bible and allowing it to renew our minds, by praying and spending time with God, by spending time with others who follow Christ, by coming to church and worshipping God and having communion, by focussing on heaven, and by serving God with your spiritual gifts. If we work with the Holy Spirit and do the right things, we will see growth and the old nature’s habits fall away.

Putting off the old self is a key to living the new life in Christ.

3. Remember to put on our new heavenly nature

In verse 12 Paul tells us some of the things we need to put on. It says, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience”.

As we saw in the last point there were five things of the flesh and mouth we need to put off. In this section we see five things we need to put on. They are compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. These things sound a lot like the fruit of the Spirit that is mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23.

I love the analogy of clothing ourselves. In the same way as Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the armour of God, it says we need to put on these attitudes and behaviours on like getting dressed. It is a conscious choice to walk in the ways of Christ.

White shirt illustration – clothe yourself with these attitudes. This is what God wants us to be.

Clothing ourselves with heavenly attitudes is another key to living the new life in Christ. Letting our lights shine, being salt and light, loving one another and living right shows we are Jesus’ disciples. These things will be more important than ever in an ever changing world.

4. Remember to be Christ’s heavenly representative

The Bible tells us that we are no longer citizens of this world, but are citizens of heaven and of God’s Kingdom. Ephesians 2:19 says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household”. And Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”. We are to live and breathe and walk like members of God’s Kingdom and be his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). It is our new role in this life. We can add it in to our resume- in my case 21 July 1989 to present “Ambassador of Christ”.

Years ago I used to work at the Immigration Department in Perth. I would often have to visit foreign embassies to pick up passports or paperwork. When I walked through the doors or through the gate I was told to be conscious that I was on foreign soil. Yes, I was in Perth, but I was either in Greece, Russia or Italy. I had to abide by their rules and try hard not to offend their customs. In many ways, this is what it is like for us as Christians when we come into this place. It is God’s embassy. His dwelling place on earth. The Bible says the Lord inhabits the praises of His people and where two or more are gathered He is in our midst. When we meet here were are in His dwelling place. We are His children, doing His work, representing Him. When we leave this place and go home we still have our ambassador hats on. We are citizens of heave representing Him.

Ambassadors hat illustration – we are Christ’s amabassadors wherever we go.

So how do we best represent Christ? Verse 16 says the best way to be Christ’s representative is to “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives”. When we let the message of Christ’s love, Christ’s teachings and Christ’s death on the cross for us fill our lives, we want to live for Him and let others know about Him. When we are full of Christ’s love, it has no choice but to outflow on to those around us. Like Jesus said in John 7:39 “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Streams of living water are a natural outworking of faith in Jesus and the new nature that we are given. As we have seen we need to do the right things to let this new nature flourish and flow out.

This section finishes off with verse 17. It reminds us that whatever we do or say we need to be conscious that we are Christ’s representative. We need to remember that we are the only Bible many people will read. Often people will look at our lives first, before they will ever listen to our message.

Closing

I really like how this passage starts and ends. It has bookends – Set your hearts and minds of things of heaven, at the end it says to remember that we are Christ’s representative in this world. In the middle it talks about putting off your old nature and putting on your new heavenly nature. It is all about living the new life in Christ.

1. Remember to focus your heart and mind on heaven
2. Remember to put off our old earthly nature
3. Remember to clothe yourself with your heavenly nature
4. Remember to be Christ’s heavenly representative in all you do.

Prayer

Dear God, please help me to live my new life in Christ in a way that honours You. Please help to focus my heart and mind on heavenly things. I pray that You will help me to spend time doing things that feed my new nature. I pray that You will help me to clothe myself with tender hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I pray I will be a worthy representative of Christ to those around me. We ask in Jesus name, Amen.

 
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