Sermon notes and questions from my message based on Colossians 3:1-17. Delivered June 28, 2020 at Forsyth UMC in Forsyth, IL.
We are called as Christians to live a new life in Christ that does not follow the pattern of this world. Remember the Goal of Paul’s work “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” – Colossians 2: 2 NLT. Chapter two discussed our freedom in Christ, now chapter 3 of Colossians tells us how we should be living as Christians.
1. Focus on the things of heaven. Colossians 3:1-4 NLT
In this passage we are told to focus on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (vv. 1-2). Our salvation is a gift from God, this wonderful salvation gives us new life in Christ and hope that goes beyond death with the assurance that because Christ rose from the dead, I too will rise from the dead never to die again.
If we focus on the things of this life, we are likely to be discouraged and disillusioned. In the end we will definitely be disappointed because we leave it all behind when we die. When my mother was in her final months in a nursing home, she received a Publisher’s Clearing House ad that said, “Imagine Betty Maxwell what you could do with $5,000,000!” I thought, “Yeah, she could buy the nursing home she’s living in.” At some point all of the wealth and power we can accumulate in this life will become meaningless. But if our true treasure, what we hope for, what we desire, is in heaven as we approach that time when the things of this world become meaningless, it won’t matter because we know we have far greater things in Christ.
The reason for this is simple. When we came into Christ, we “died to this life” but we have a new life hidden in Christ that is independent of our wealth or lack of wealth in this world. A multimillionaire in Florida who came to Christ in his 50s stated, “all of my millions I would have gladly given up to know Christ,” a poor widow in North Dakota had tremendous power in prayer and great joy in the Lord. Both of these people the millionaire and the poor widow had the same joy because their focus was on the things of heaven where they had true riches.
2. Get Rid of the Bad Stuff vv. 5-11
In response to this wonderful gift God has given us in Christ we are instructed to “put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” – Colossians 3:5 NLT. This does not mean we cannot enjoy the material blessings God gives us in this world. All of our wealth and the power to gain wealth should be seen as gifts from God. The same is true of the joys we share within marriage.
Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:4 “Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. 5 For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.” – NLT.
Paul warns us that the anger of God is coming upon the world because of these sins, then he gives a list of the kinds of things we should not have in our lives: anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. – Colossians 3:8 NLT.
3. Put on the Good Stuff vv. 12-15
Next Paul tells us to put in good stuff into our lives. V. 10 says, 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. – Col. 3:10 NLT. In vv. 12-15 we are given a list of things to put on like clothes. Our clothes are what people see and they say a lot about us. These are the things we should clothe ourselves with:
- Tenderhearted mercy – another word for this is compassion. If we are true Christians, we must have compassion for all people, especially those of the household of faith.
- Kindness – who would you rather spend your time with, someone who is kind, or someone is not kind in either words or actions?
- Humility – freedom from pride or arrogance. The Bible does teach us that we can take pride in our own work, but not by exalting ourselves over another, but we should feel satisfaction in our work for Christ and our families. Most people do not like to be around arrogant people, boastful people.
- Gentleness, patience, tolerance – these are all things we try to practice and to teach our children.
- Forgiving one another. Sometimes this one is hard, but remember Christ forgave you.
- Add love. The term for love has little to do with emotion, it is acting and speaking with the highest good of another in mind. The emotions tend to follow when you intentionally seek the highest good of others. The absolute highest good for any person is to know Christ and grow in Him.
It is this kind of love that makes the mercy, kindness and other positive elements God wants us to add to our lives, work together in perfect harmony.
- Finally he says, we are to let the peace of Christ rule our hearts. This is a peace that is unshakeable in the face of danger. John Wesley when crossing the Atlantic Ocean noticed that the Moravian Christians gathered and sang hymns in the middle of a violent storm. He feared for his life, but they sang praises to God unafraid of what could happen. They had a peace he did not yet know. Though he came to know it soon afterwards.
One of the reasons sinners came freely to Christ, was the presence of all of these qualities in Him. The ones who had trouble with Him were either confident in their own righteousness or seeking to hold on to their positions of power in this world.
4. Fill Your Life with God’s Riches vv. 16-17
Finally he tells us, 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. – Colossians 3:16-17 NLT.
Sadly, many Christians never explore deeply the riches we have in the message of Christ. There are so many promises given to us if we will simply trust and follow Him or like the old song says, “Trust and Obey.”
We are to teach and counsel each other. Not for the purpose of being critical or condemning, but for building each other up in Christ for our mutual benefit and joy in Christ.
As Christians we have chosen to believe in Christ and follow His ways. We have chosen to not to follow the ways of this world and the evil that is within it. If you have not yet chosen to follow Christ, I invite you to do so. If you are trusting Christ, I invite you to explore more deeply the riches of the wonderful salvation Christ has given you. I guarantee you will never run out of discovering the wonderful benefits Christ has given you out of His love for all of us.
Questions to Consider
1. As the Bible tells us to focus on the realities of heaven it is important to ask questions like:
- Where is my focus?
- What is most important in my life?
- What determines how I think and act? The realities of my new life in Christ or this world?
2. What are the things Paul tells us we need to rid from our lives? We are some of the behaviors I personally need to remove from my life? How do I see Christ working in my to remove the bad things in my life?
3. Make a list of the good things Colossians 3:12-15 tells us we should have in our lives? How have I seen Christ developing these things in me? What can I do to continue to be more like Jesus?
4. What does it mean to let the message of Christ fill our lives? What are some of the easy and practical things Paul tells us we can do to fill our lives with Christ’s message and its richness? (v. 16 b). How does this not only help me but also helps other Christians?