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040614 - Colossians 4 - PRAY
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April 07, 2014 08:20 AM PDT
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Colossians 4:2-18, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 4 ~ 040614

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:2- VERSES ~ 2Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving

Beseeching God – towards that, occupy yourselves diligently – in constant watchful readiness – out of an overflow of gratitude.

Beseeching God Prayer, προσευχή (prŏs-üĉ-ā) means that you petition toward God – the εὐχή part means an entreaty, supplication, plea to God. That’s enough to get the job done… that was the word used by Greeks to describe praying to their gods. Christians added the preposition πρός as a prefix. πρός means towards and implies a movement. It makes it a more relational, a more active and a BOLDER activity. You are to, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name” (Psalm 100:4).

“19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

It is moving into His presence boldly in the power of the Holy Spirit because of your confidence in the completed work of Jesus and the Father’s acceptance of that sacrifice on your behalf.

προσευχή is the noun for prayer… it is leaning forward in the saddle… with movement towards the throne room… think of yourself actually moving there… it is expecting that God is participating… He leans in towards you intently listening… NOT just listening, but actually hearing, because He wants to hear what YOU have to say… because there is a relationship… you have come to speak to Him and He wants to hear what His child has to say… Imagine it! You burst into His throne room “BESEECHING GOD” to help and He is eager to do just that. His help may not be what we think it should be, but we must trust that “Father knows best.”

– Towards that, occupy yourselves diligently – The verb, προσκαρτερέω (pros-käȑ-tĕ-ȑĕ-ō) The preposition πρός again indicating a motion towards something.

Before it was motion towards God in prayer, here it is motion towards persistence. It indicates continuous struggle against what would hinder persistence – in this case persistent prayer…

After Jesus ascended into heaven His followers went into Jerusalem, back to the “Upper Room,” to await the gift of the Holy Spirit. “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14a).

“Continually devoting” is προσκαρτερέω and “Prayer” is προσευχή.

Allow nothing to distract you or dissuade you from your continuous communication with God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it is simply, “Pray without ceasing.”

In constant watchful readiness – the participle γρηγορέω (gȑā-gŏȑ-ĕ-ō) gives us the name Gregory. Stay awake! Keep alert! Don’t be taken off guard! Be watchful and ready at all times!

This whole thing is what Jesus was talking about just before His arrest and execution… 36Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” 39And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46“Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!” (Matthew 26:36-46).

Our flesh is weak… Diligently set your face towards God and pray for the strength to PRAY. Let nothing get in the way of that.

Out of an overflow of gratitude – the noun εὐχαριστία (ü-ĉä-ȑĭs-tē-ä) from which we get the Eucharist. It is an abiding state of thankfulness – gratitude… NOT for the answer to the pray, BUT for the unbelievable privilege of entering the presence of Almighty God and talking with Him as a friend.

Who cares what the answer to pray is if the Creator of the universe hears, acknowledges and answers your petition?

He perfectly loves you… He is perfectly able… He is perfectly wise… Whatever the answer; it is best.

If you do not believe that to the core of your being, you do not trust Him. If you do not trust Him, you do not know Him.

How do I get to know Him? PRAY. “Darling if you want me to be closer to you; get closer to me.”

Beseeching God ä – towards that, occupy yourselves diligently – in constant watchful readiness – out of an overflow of gratitude.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:3&4 ~ 3praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.

The Apostle Paul is imprisoned in the Roman Capital ultimately on charges of being an enemy of the state during the reign of the Emperor Nero.

Nero who “Fiddled while Rome burned” and who persecuted Christians with a sadistic vengeance I cannot in good conscience mention in church.

Paul is awaiting an audience with that megalomaniac who will eventually sentence Paul to death.

While He waits in that state, Paul writes to the churches and He asks for their prayers… Not prayers that he be released or that he be comforted or that he be spared, but prayer that he be strengthened to carry out the will of God by fearlessly and clearly preaching his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the salvation that only He can bring.

I PAUL, ask you to “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” that I “May speak forth the mystery of Christ… that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”

The whole diligence and staying alert thing has to do with the fact that time is short… people are dying and the enemy is on the attack.

There is never too much prayer… Pray, pray, pray! Pray that God is glorified, the church is Unified and the Gospel is testified.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:5&6 ~ 5Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

The flow of this letter is, I Paul, 1) give thanks to God for your faith and 2) pray without ceasing for your continued growth in the Lord.

3) Have no doubt whatsoever – Jesus is LORD! Jesus is everything and He has absolutely saved you.

4) Since that is true, stop behaving like an unbeliever and step into your new reality as a child of Almighty God.

5) Be completely unified with one another bringing glory and honor to God no matter how difficult it might be.

6) Pray for me and the spread of the Gospel as you yourselves spread the Gospel.

That’s where we are at right now… Every one of you my friends is to make the most of your time.

Putting off the old nature, putting on the new, teaching and admonishing one another through singing together, praying without ceasing and making the most of every opportunity.

Be gentle, be tender, be wise, be gracious, but be honest.

If every Christian were open, honest and transparent allowing the Holy Spirit to be manifested through them the world would change.

Be led by the Holy Spirit by being “Prayed up.” Look for the doors of “Divine appointment” and never miss an opportunity.

The concept is one of bearing witness or giving testimony… No one wants you to testify to or bear witness to something you don’t know or understand.

Simply testify to what you do know.

No one can argue with what you genuinely believe and have genuinely experienced… just tell people what Jeus has done for you and let them draw their own conclusions.

It is not your job to convince people – it IS your job to share Christ.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:7-9 ~ 7As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. 8For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; 9and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.

SLIDE: A.P.P.S.R.R.C. ROMAN MAP

Tychicus tĭc-ĭ-cŭs was one of Paul’s most trusted companions and was the leader of the party of the A.P.P.S.R.R.C. Apostle Paul’s Postal Service Rural Route Carriers.

He was in charge of getting the Letter to the Ephesians to Ephesus, this letter and the letter to Philemon to Colossae and the lost letter to the Laodiceans to Princess Leia, I mean to Laodicea.

Tychicus was from the Roman province of Asia probably from the city of Ephesus.

Along with him was the runaway slave Onesimus. “Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number.”

SLIDE: ZOOM MAP

He was to help deliver the letter to his owner Philemon an Elder in the church at Colossae. This is fascinating stuff considering the lengthy address to slaves we covered last Sunday.

In Paul’s personal letter to Philemon he says, “10I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, 11who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. 12I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 15For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). 20Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.” 22At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. 23Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. 25The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Philemon 10-21).

We are fairly certain that Onesimus was freed and about 40 years later, an Onesimus was the Bishop of Ephesus – it is possible that it was this same man.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:10&11 ~ 10Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); 11and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.

Aristarchus, Mark and Justus were three Jewish Christian companions that provided a special comfort to Paul. These were men who shared the same heritage, culture and native language.

Aristarchus was from Thessalonica in Macedonia and had been with Paul at least since his visit there 10 years earlier.

Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, is the author of the Gospel of Mark. After causing problems for Paul during and after the First Missionary Journey Paul and Barnabas had a “Sharp disagreement” about Mark’s participation on the next trip.

They agreed to go on separate journeys with Paul taking Silas and Barnabas taking Mark.

Over the years, Mark matured under the tutelage of Barnabas and Paul as well as the Apostle Peter. By the early 60’s A.D. Mark was fully reconciled with Paul.

Jesus called Justus – Jesus comes from the Greek of Joshua, Justus is Latin for Law keeper.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:12&13 ~ 12Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Epaphras was the missionary most responsible for originally bringing the Gospel to the Lycus Valley. Back in chapter one, “6bSince the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.”

He likely converted to Christianity through Paul’s teaching and worked with him while he lived in Ephesus. As a resident of Colossae He was eager to go home and preach the Gospel to his people.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:14 ~ 14Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.

Luke the remarkable historian wrote the Gospel of Luke as well as the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. He was very likely the slave of the wealthy Theophilus probably from the church in Antioch, who granted him to Paul’s service.

Demas was a Gentile convert who, about five years later, probably in about 67 A.D., became discouraged as we read in Paul’s final letter, 2 Timothy 4:9-12, “9Make every effort to come to me soon; 10for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.”

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:15 ~ 15Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.

The greeting to Nympha is somewhat interesting. It is impossible to know whether the name is Nympha a female name or Nympas a male name. It the original text it reads Nympan to form it in the correct accusative case. The way to tell whether it was a man or woman is where the accent mark falls. The original manuscripts did not use accent marks. It is literally impossible to tell.

Help comes when Paul writes “The church that is in ____________ house.” Some ancient manuscripts have “Her house,” some have, “His house,” and some have “Their house.”

We really have no idea whether it was a man or a woman. The KJV/NKJV have a male, while most translations make it a woman.

The primary reason most translations go with a woman is that it is easy to see why later copyists would change it to “His house,” but it is nearly impossible to imagine an early copyist changing it from “His house,” to “Her house,” the translation, “Their house,” is just keeping it vague – not a bad way to go.

A later change to the masculine makes good sense to me. If you don’t like things vague, go with Nympha. A wealthy woman of influence in Laodicea. She may have met with Paul in Ephesus years earlier and opened her home for church services up the road from Colossae.

If so, this again shows the absolute equality of women and the amazing participation they had on the early spread of Christianity from helping with Jesus’ ministry to providing for the subsequent church.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:16&17 ~ 16When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea. 17Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

Archippus lived in the household of Philemon and Apphia – he was probably related in some way and was likely the primary pastor of the church in Colossae.

If he was the son or younger brother of Philemon the admonishment might be to stand up as the pastor and help your father/older brother do the right thing concerning Onesimus.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 4:18 ~ 18I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.

It is like reading the diary of our ancestors…

Remember me – Grace be with you.

033014 - Colossians 3e - Serious Commitment
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April 01, 2014 09:32 PM PDT
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Colossians 3:18-4:1, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 3e ~ 033014

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:18-4:1 VERSES ~ 18Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. 21Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. 22Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. 1Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.

There is a lot to talk about because there are so many misconceptions concerning these verses and others like them.

A) In the past, people have mostly misused these verses to oppress others.

B) In our modern world people mostly misuse these verses to ignore what they don’t want to accept.

Both are wrong.

A) There is not a single word or even the smallest hint that these verses can legitimately be used to put someone else down… quite the contrary, as you will see.

B) In addition, it is impossible that anything in these verses is no longer fully applicable to Christians today… again, quite the contrary, as you will see.

SLIDE: MULTICOLORED DISPLAYING COUPLETS

The elaboration on slaves from the second half of verse 22 through the end of chapter three (3) is simply a much longer motivation SECTION than for the other two couplets. That doesn’t mean it is not important, but I greatly condensed it on this slide so you could see the flow better…

There are three couplets concerning Christian order in the home starting at the core and working outward.

First, the marital relationship as the most important and vital to the home. Secondarily to that, the parent-child relationship and then others who are attached to the nuclear family.

In each couplet, God addresses the submitting party [YELLOW], gives them instruction [WHITE], gives them a reason for compliance [ORANGE] and then addresses the authoritative party [BLUE].

It is a command to wives, a command to children and then a command to slaves. The husband, father and slave owner (perhaps all the same man) is addressed in association with the three (3) relationships.

Now, before we get started, what has Paul been talking about – what have we been talking about for the last few weeks?

Church unity, church unity, church unity, which is made possible through God’s Agapê if we will allow it to have its effect.

Today is all about relationships within the home… why, because how the home goes, so goes the church. This is still about church unity.

SLIDE: VERSE 18 ~ WIVES, BE SUBJECT…

There are Christian men in America that would like to see something similar to this kind of misogynistic legalism.

This is NOT what verse 18 is about…

SLIDE: PROVERBS 31 WIVES

Wives are being directly addressed… it isn’t, “Men tell your wives…” It isn’t, “Men make your wives…” It is, “Hey, you married women; listen up.”

To help drive the point [all married women please stand] let’s realize that IF you are NOT a married woman, IF you are NOT standing right now, God’s NOT talking to you!

You ladies, married women, WIVES, ὑποτάσσω (hü-pŏ-täs-sō). It is a vocative address by God to you followed by a present, middle, imperative, verb.

All that means something so we had better get it right… ὑποτάσσω is ὑπό under, and τάσσω to place or arrange in an orderly fashion.

Like a military formation placed under the leadership of the officer.

Therefore, to place under in an orderly fashion is to submit yourself under an authority over you.

In the New Testament, the verb/noun occurs more than 40 times mostly about Christian submission to God. Sometimes it is Jesus as a 12 year-old submitting to Joseph and Mary or Him submitting to the Heavenly Father, as well as people submitting to their leaders in the church and in society, etc.

In this case, it is imperative mood meaning a command from God.

It is in the present tense telling us it should be happening right now as a continuous mode of operation. This is what you should be doing and continue doing.

The middle voice is something we don’t have in English verbs so it is a bit difficult to understand. In this case, it means the Subject of the verb is doing the action of the verb upon themselves and for their own benefit.

You WIVES, subject yourself for your own good.

In the Bible this concept of wives establishing themselves under the authority of their husband occurs in many places. There are six (6) separate passages in the New Testament alone using this specific word ὑποτάσσω for wives submitting themselves to their husbands. Colossians 3:18, Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:1-6, 1 Corinthians 14:34&35, Titus 2:3-5, 1 Timothy 2:9-15.

This is a common, recurring, important and consistent Biblical teaching carrying over into the New Testament. There is no variance in the Bible, or in early church teaching, or really, in any church teaching for the first 18 to 19 centuries of Christianity.

The effort to change this common understanding is recent and Western, mostly American, where societal and cultural changes have changed Biblical interpretation.

How the family goes, so goes the church… As secularists convince the family to change the family pressures the church to change and the church pressures GOD to change.

Some say these six (6) specific passages using ὑποτάσσω along with all the other similar passages (not to mention all the other evidence such as the absence of any indication whatsoever that women occupied authority over men) is merely a throwback to an ignorant misogynistic bygone era dominated by male chauvinistic pigs.

1) Jesus a misogynist? We must be careful calling Jesus, His Apostles and the Church Fathers male chauvinists while teaching under the unction of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus had wanted female Apostles and Elders, He would have had them.

2) God’s Word wrong? If any portion of Scripture no longer applies because of societal, cultural, racial, political, religious or economic differences then the Bible is a subjective and relativistic document rather than God’s perfect communication. When we each choose for ourselves what applies and what does not, we, in effect, act as our own god. We judge for our self, what is right and wrong, good and evil, just as Eve wanted to do back in the Garden. Genesis 3:6

3) Verse 18 passé? If so, then neither do husbands need to love their wives or children obey their parents. We should therefore skip to the closing…

4) Temporary or specially qualified? There is nothing in this passage or any other that suggests that it was temporary or only valid in a specific situation.

5) Was it always wrong? The Bible plainly states that slavery, as an institution, is wrong. The slavery issue is different because, nowhere does the Bible indicate that wives being subject to their husbands is wrong.

6) Simply adapt to what is expected? If this was a command for Christians to comply with the cultural norms of one’s society then it should say, “Wives conform to societal norms.” God had the words to make that happen.

7) In 1 Corinthians 11:8&9, 8For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.

There the Bible is appealing to the created order, which is timeless. Even before the “Fall” there was a functional subordination… God, then man, then woman, just as Jesus is functionally subordinate to the Father.

The Father and Son are one – they are the same essence and they are equal, yet there exists an agreed upon functional subordination.

Male and female come together and are ONE – they are the same essence and they are equal, yet there is supposed to exist an agreed upon functional subordination.

Jesus WILLINGLY submits, is in subjection to and subordinates Himself under the Father’s authority – the Father’s wish, will, desire, plan and direction INSTEAD of His own.

That is the man’s model for submission to God and it is the woman’s model for submission to her husband.

The Bible plainly states that men and women are equal in value and so no Christian at any time or in any place ever had the right to demean any female for being female.

Quite the reverse, men were to love and protect females by sacrificing their own lives if necessary. Men were to make it easy for woman to submit to their leadership.

Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek.” Someone breaks into your home and steals all your junk. They are immediately caught by the police and are released on a technicality receiving no punishment and showing no remorse.

Let us say that instead the criminal is quickly processed, found guilty, sentenced to two years in prison and shows great remorse. In which case is it easier to, “Turn the other cheek”?

If men did their part responsibly and in subjection to God, it would sure make it easier for wives to follow the Lord’s command.

Yet, wives, that is unfortunately no excuse. We must all carry the yoke we are ordered to carry regardless of the stupidity and selfishness of others, even if that is your own husband.

That is why your choice of husband is so unbelievably important… that is the meaning of being “Unequally yoked.” 2 Corinthians 6:14&15 “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with [Satan], or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?”

Non-Christian people may be the best, most noble, kindest people alive, but they are NOT Believers – they are NOT right in the sight of Almighty God – they are children of the Devil and they are in the darkness.

I’m just reading the Bible…

God says do NOT be in close connection with them, let alone marry them!

In the past and in other areas to this day, females are given to men as their wives with little or no say in the matter. I’m fairly certain that every wife in this room freely chose the dude to which you are yoked… the dude to whom you yoked yourself.

Wives, I’m truly sorry if your husband makes submitting difficult, but as your pastor appointed and anointed this morning by God, I’m telling you 1) to pray, 2) trust God and 3) submit. “For this is fitting in the Lord.”

Unmarried females, because of the woman’s curse in Genesis 3:16. I am telling you listen to your father if that’s possible and reasonable, or listen to the male authority figure in your life who has no agenda except what is in your best interest, or the Elders of the church if there is no one like that for you. God told Eve, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

What that means is that females have an almost irresistible urge to build a nest. They desire a husband to love and protect them and to be a father to their children – they desire to control a man to be what they want him to be… that’s the implication of the Hebrew verb.

BUT, they will be frustrated because men will never be everything that a woman wants him to be and he will exert his power over his wife and the implication of that is that she will chafe under the yoke of his oppression.

With the Agapê that the Holy Spirit brings to Christians things can be much better than that, but it is never easy. For your part, 1) pray, 2) trust God and 3) submit

My people, whether female or male, your life will be fraught with difficulties… why make things so much worse through bad choices?

Trust God, He knows what He’s talking about… 1 Timothy 2:14, “It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Women, by virtue of their differences both physical and psychological, have a different role to play. Not only is there nothing demeaning about that – it is at least equal in importance to the functional role men must play.

The Bible goes on to say, “Women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint” (1 Timothy 2:15).

What that means is that God blesses those who pick up the yoke He has assigned and carry it where He has established their finish line. Do your job – do it well – and do it without complaint.

The primary job is that of nest-builder. Make a house into a home and a collection of people into a family… nurture the next generation… How important is that?

It is so important Satan has been attacking that role from the beginning. Instead of being led astray by emotion and feelings listen to the Godly counsel of men.

Men have many problems as you are well aware, but a Godly Christian man who loves you with Agapê can cut through the fluff and see the solution.

You don’t like it most of the time, but men are designed to be fixers.

What is nearly impossible for the female of the species is to actually follow the man-logic instead of resisting it because the feelings are so strong… to truly “Be subject,” is difficult

To whom do you submit? Your own husband.

How do you submit? Through the power of prayer and trust in God, allow the Holy Spirit to conform you to the Proverbs 31 wife.

Do it honestly, transparently and willingly – I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have seen an unequally yoke man driven to file for divorce by a wife who PRETENDED to be submissive.

You cannot fool me – how do you think you can fool God?

SLIDE: VERSE 19, SUPERMAN 19Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

This command has NO BEARING on the previous command. Wives submit regardless of the husband’s obedience to this command and likewise husbands love your wives regardless of their obedience to the previous verse.

None of us have control over another person… they do what they do and we can encourage and pray, but at the end of the day what we can control is our OWN relationship with God and our obedience to His commands. Nowhere does anyone get off the hook for how he or she is supposed to behave.

“Love your wives,” Love here must be the erotic ἔρως (ĕȑ-ōs), or perhaps the familial, στοργή (stŏȑ-gā) maybe it is the true friendship, φιλία (fĭl-ē-ä). Of course, it is ἀγάπη (ä-gä-pā).

The verb ἀγαπάω (ä-gä-pä-ō) in the present, active, indicative. [all the married men stand]. Here is an oracle from your Creator directly to you… “I, Almighty God, command you husbands to continuously, actively love your wives with the love only I can give you – with the love I had for you when I sent My Son to die for you.”

Love her just as, i.e. in the same way, that Jesus loved the church when He died for her (Ephesians 5:25).

Secular writers of the time often discussed the love of a husband for his wife and never once used the idea of Agapê.

Men, Agapê your wife, means that you love, protect, and accept her regardless of her appearance, behavior or ability. You do not need to approve of her attitude and performance to love her with God’s love.

After all, if God waited for humans to exhibit an attitude and performance He approved of, He would have never sent Jesus.

“Do not be embittered against them,” causes some confusion… “I mean how could any man ever get embittered towards his wife?”

It is either, “Do not be embittered against them,” as here, or “Do not treat them bitterly,” i.e. harshly. It is all the same thing and it is God’s Agapê that will help us not be bitter towards our wife and have that cause us to treat her bitterly.

It is NOT a job for Superman, because not even superman can do it…

SLIDE: RINGS ON THE BIBLE

It is a job for the Holy Spirit. Husbands I beg you to pray and trust God and Agapê your wife no matter what happens. If you have not been frustrated by your wife, you have not been married very long. If you dwell of frustration you will become embittered towards her and will eventually treat her bitterly..

Agapê her instead. If you will do that, your wife will come around and even if she doesn’t you will be eternally blessed for obeying God in fulfilling your job on earth.

Agapê means loving, protecting, accepting and providing for the wife God gave you.

SLIDE: VERSE 20 – KIDS 20Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

God is actually addressing children – young people, God is talking directly to you!

Obey your mom and dad – that’s what this means. Obey the head of your home, which hopefully is a Christian male and female adult married in the sight of God as one flesh.

If the head of your home is something other, then obey them.

This then applies to children living in the home run by their parents… This verse says nothing about grown children heading their own home.

When you disobey your parents, you are simultaneously disobeying God.

SLIDE: VERSE 21 – FATHERS 21Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

Men are once again addressed as the leader of the home in this second (2nd) couplet.

The Godly goal of parenthood is to raise children who know and love God through Jesus Christ our Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Expecting too much, living through your children vicariously, being legalistic and rigid, projecting your own fears upon your kids… all these negative things oppress a child.

Eventually, and much sooner than you think, your kids will face the cold hard world on their own. Your job, dad, is to teach them how to function as Christian adults making Godly decisions when you are no longer there to help.

SLIDE: CHAPTER 3:22-CHAPTER 4:1 – SLAVES 22Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. 1Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.

Strictly speaking, here is a section of Scripture that actually doesn’t apply to us in this room today.

People today automatically equate it with the employee–employer relationship. There is a valid way to do that, but to ignore the actual command is to miss much of the point and its impact.

Think of slavery… We have an unfortunate history in America and there is a lot of correlation. Slavery, no matter when or where is a despicable practice because by definition it reduces human beings to animals.

People, created in God’s image, treated as livestock.

No slave does their will because they have no will, except their master’s will.

Paul fought slavery to a point and what was that point? The point where it damaged the spread of the Gospel and the unity of the church.

God, through Paul, is saying here, as horrible as slavery is it is a yoke I want you to carry well so long as I say carry it.

There was no call to revolt or escape… the call was to be the best slave possible to bring glory to God. If God wanted a slave to be free – the slave would be free. If God wants your situation in life to change, then it will change.

Wives, is submitting to your husband as bad as being a slave. Husbands, is loving your wife, no matter what, as tough as being a slave?

Children is obeying your parents as difficult as being a slave. Fathers, is being patient with your kids as hard as being a slave?

When we look at what God has asked of others… slaves, martyrs, prisoners throughout the ages compared to what God is asking of you and me?

When we understand the situation back then we can see the principle at work.

That remarkable principle still holds for us.

The command here is to put God’s agenda ahead of your own even when it is so extreme it is shocking.

Of course, that principle can then be applied to our work situation, but it is so much bigger than just that.

Likewise, Masters applies to everyone who has authority or power over others… you have a Master in heaven and He will require an accounting.

032314 - Colossians 3d - Put on LOVE.
Clean
March 25, 2014 06:08 AM PDT
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Colossians 3:14-17, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 3d ~ 032314

SLIDE: WELCOME FRIENDS!

Wednesdays.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS PAPYRUS 46

Over the last two (2) weeks, Almighty God has commanded us to get along with each other. First negatively and then positively. First as putting off attitudes and behaviors associated with our “OLD SELF” and then putting on the attitudes and behaviors associated with our “NEW SELF.”

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:14&15 VERSES ~ 14Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

“Beyond” compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other… beyond all that… CLOTHE yourselves with LOVE.

SLIDE: HEART & CROSS AGAPE ~

Love, of course is ἀγάπη (ä-gä-pā). Agapê only comes from God…

If you are a new person brought to life through the Resurrection of Jesus, you are filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore God’s Agapê. If you are not a Christian you do not possess Agapê – it is that simple.

We have covered the love Agapê so many times I feel like it will just annoy you to do it again, but evidently, God is not tired of me talking about it because here it is, once again, the central issue in Scripture.

“BEYOND ALL these” wonderful, uplifting, harmonizing things wrap yourself in Godly Love – clothe yourself in Agapê.

“The fruit of the Spirit [in other words the outworking or evidence of the Holy Breath of God in a person] is love [that’s Agapê]…
Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control…” Galatians 5:22&23.

Without Agapê there is no joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc…

Agapê is the 1) cause of God’s grace to us; it is the 2) foundation of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit and it is the 3) binder that holds Christianity together as the Body of Jesus Christ on earth.

The Bible is not the essential ingredient – it is the information about that ingredient. The church is not the essential ingredient – it is the home of that ingredient. Being good is NOT the essential ingredient – it is the outworking of that ingredient…

Nothing matters if there is not love – Agapê.

God’s Word tells us, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have Agapê, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have Agapê, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have Agapê, it profits me nothing” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

Jerome related that the Great Apostle John, author of the Gospel and three Epistles that bear his name as well as the Book of Revelation, in his extreme old age said, “If we could only Agapê, it would be enough” (Jerome, Commentary on Galatians 6:10).

We get so easily wrapped up in all the other stuff, but the first and greatest command is to Agapê God and the second greatest command is to Agapê other people (Matthew 22:36-40 et al.).

It is the command Jesus left us with, “You [each one of you…]
Agapê one another, even as I have Agapêd you.” He went on to say, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have Agapê for one another” (John 13:34&35).

We get so distracted from what is paramount.

I want to bring us back to what is most important.

In the final analysis, it makes no difference whatsoever, how diligently you raise your kids. You can put them in a bubble at birth and try to keep them there for their entire life. You can monitor and restrict all the input into their lives, you can foster good will and love; you can quite literally do everything right with the noblest of intentions.

Your kids are going to believe what they believe and you cannot change that no matter how hard you try.

What matters is the actual personal relationship your son or daughter has with Jesus.

Christianity is not about a set of beliefs or an ethical code, it is not about being good or moral or disciplined. Christianity is not even about church, the Bible or prayer; it is not about Believer’s Baptism or Holy Communion or any of the stuff we do…

Christianity is only about CHRIST! All the other stuff has a place and becomes important and wonderful, but only when we get the CHRIST part right first.

I cannot make any other human being embrace a personal relationship with any other human being, let alone with Jesus.

I hate to break it to you, but neither can you. If I had it, all to do over again, I would spend far more time and effort on helping my kids develop intimacy with Jesus. Far more time praying with them and far more time helping them understand Agapê.

If Christianity is not about an intimate, deeply personal Agapê love relationship between a person and the One and Only true God through the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus then it is no more valid than atheism, agnosticism, polytheism, pantheism, Mormonism, Buddhism, Universalism or any other “ISM” that should be a “WASIM.”

How do you foster such a genuine interpersonal relationship in another?

Demonstrate the Truth of your own relationship, be sincere, be transparent, be honest, ABOVE ALL be IN AGAPE with God.

Teach the Gospel and use words if necessary. Do what is right, work hard with a good attitude and be wise… Recognize the danger of worldly influences and be proactive, don’t become complacent… Do what you can, but then realize that the only real answer is God’s power… Pray and trust Him.

We are in a spiritual war and the primary weapon used against you and me is the subtle erosion of our devotion to God and each other – a devotion enabled by Agapê.

Imagine if you, your spouse, and your entire church wore their Agapê for God openly and sincerely all the time – never ashamed of their deep and intimate devotion to the Father through Jesus in real Holy Spirit power.

Imagine the effect of that constant and consistent reality played out for your children. Imagine if that same Agapê was just as real among the people claiming to be Christ’s Disciples and God’s children.

It is a love that originates in God and is the only love acceptable to God.

It is an intellectual choice to love and therefore is based upon the decision of the lover rather than the lovability of the loved.

It is therefore unconditional in the sense that it is not conditioned by the object. No one earns Agapê; Agapê is bestowed.

It is altruistic, which is to say, selfless… but more than selfless it is others focused. I’ve said all that so many times I can’t keep track. Agapê can be understood by looking at it from different angles. So let’s use an angle we haven’t talked about recently…

SLIDE: MANIPULATIVE SELF-SERVING LOVE

There are four (4) Greek words used in the Bible translated as love. First, ἔρως (ĕȑ-ōs – erotic), found in the Old Testament LXX, it is an erotic love.

The Greek god Eros would infect people with love madness and that is the concept, ἔρως is all about my desire – my insatiable longing for another. It’s total focus is my need to possess the object and so the object becomes everything.

If the object ceases to be desirable to me, ἔρως abruptly ends. It is emotional and it is self-serving even though it is passionate and exciting.

Nowhere in the Bible are we told to ἔρως God, or our friends, our families or even our spouse. The love that drives people into a giddy obsessive desire to marry and a year later to divorce is ἔρως.

SLIDE: FRIENDSHIP & FAMILIAL LOVE

Next is φιλία (fĭl-ē-ä - philanthropic) a mutual love often defined as “Brotherly Love,” literally Philadelphia. It is NOT brotherly love in the sense of your actual brother. Familial love between siblings and other relatives is that third (3rd) love word στοργή (stŏȑ-gā).

While στοργή is a natural love for family, φιλία is a mutual shared love. It is equally objective and subjective. Part of it is because I want to like you and part of it is my reaction to you wanting to like me.

If you cease to be lovable φιλία does NOT immediately cease, but given enough difficulty, it will eventually die.

We are also never once told to στοργή God and in the entire Bible, we are never told to φιλία God or really each other…

We see that φιλία becomes a natural result or outworking of the fourth (4th) love Agapê. We φιλία God and one another because we are filled with God’s Agapê.

SLIDE: SELF-SACRIFICING ALTRUISTIC LOVE

Finally, we have ἀγάπη, which is the reverse of ἔρως. With ἀγάπη, I choose to love you for your sake regardless of you or your performance. I simply decide that I will love you period.

It is all about the choice of the subject (ME), so if the object (YOU) ceases to be desirable, it has no effect on ἀγάπη at all.

It is NOT emotional and it is NOT self-serving, rather it is a calculated cost and a completely selfless giving. It is actually cold and intellectual devoid of frivolity or levity.

Agapê in various forms occurs about 650 times in the Bible and nearly every time it has to do with God loving us or with God’s love in us for Him and others.

God decided He was going to love us based upon His character.

He has perfect character so there is nothing that can stop His love… it makes no difference who you are, what you look like, what you’ve done, what you’re doing or what you will do.

God’s perfect love for you has nothing to do with your lovability – it has ONLY to do with His character.

Agapê has ONLY to do with what is best for the object… NOT what the object wants, but what they need.

Eros was ONLY to do with what was best for the subject and so gives the object whatever they want even if it is the opposite of what they need.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God gave the world, NOT what the world wanted – NOT what would allow Him to SELFISHLY possess the world, BUT what the world NEEDED.

That’s Agapê. Some lesser more selfish love would have made God a rock star in the world’s eyes and as long as He kept upping the ante – giving us ever more lavish gifts – giving us what we want rather than what we need – we would be His.

It is all bribery… it is all prostitution… it is all fake… as soon as the gifts quit flowing our “love” dies.

God gave the world what it needed.

IF you choose to accept His Agapê, you close your side of the agreement and you are sealed to Him as His child forever.

IF you choose to reject His Agapê, it has no effect upon His Agapê, but you have NOT closed the deal and you cannot be in relationship with Him.

It does NOT matter how wonderful you are, how much you do for other people or even how much you love God… IF you have NOT accepted His deal… His Agapê… you do not have Agapê and everything you do is in vain – it is fruitless – it is without purpose.
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have Agapê, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have Agapê, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have Agapê, it profits me nothing” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

Without salvation, there is no indwelling Holy Spirit, without the Holy Spirit there is no abiding Agapê… Only Spirit-filled Christians have Agapê.

YET, even though Agapê is present within the Christian, it like so many things of God, MUST BE PUT ON!

SLIDE: LITURGY

Salvation is given, but it must be ACCEPTED, it must be EMBRACED, it must be OWNED, it must be LIVED.
Forgiveness is given, but it must be ACCEPTED, it must be EMBRACED, it must be OWNED, it must be LIVED.
Relationship with God is given, but it must be ACCEPTED, it must be EMBRACED, it must be OWNED, it must be LIVED.
Likewise, Agapê is given, but it must be ACCEPTED, it must be EMBRACED, it must be OWNED, it must be LIVED.

SLIDE: VERSE 14…

14Beyond all these things put on AGAPE, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Choose to live the Agapê of God by choosing to Agapê Him… No matter what happens, my heart will choose to say, “Blessed be the Lord.”

Choose to live the Agapê of God by choosing to Agapê each other… No matter what happens, my heart will choose to say, “Blessed be the Lord.”

That is the vital glue that holds the Body of Christ together. Everyone has different ideas and different methods, but none of that is important IF I will allow the Agapê of God permeate my life.

All those God-honoring elements of unity like “Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other…” are tied together and held in place by Agapê. “Beyond all that… CLOTHE yourselves with LOVE.”

SLIDE: VERSE 15 ~

Why is Agapê the “Perfect bond of unity,” and why should we allow the “Peace of Christ Rule?”

Agapê accepted, embraced, owned and lived means I am accepted by Almighty God forever; what else could possibly matter in comparison to that? I now have the Big Picture; I now have the eternal perspective.

That recognition leads to the second element in the Fruit of the Spirit, which is Joy.

Joy is a word that comes from a big family… Joy is closely related to grace and to being thankful.

At the end of verse 15, we are commanded to be thankful. Thankfulness in this context means the appropriate reaction to God’s unmerited kindness called GRACE.

Joy is the abiding attitude related to that kind of thankfulness – it is an unwavering peace of mind based upon my newfound eternal perspective that God Agapês ME.

The Christian that has experienced the Agapê of God knows the most beautiful thing possible has occurred and nothing can ever change that fact. A beautiful thing in reality, not in mere opinion, a beautiful thing beyond human comprehension and a beautiful thing that lasts forever which makes joy real, it makes joy huge and it makes joy permanent. Nothing in this world should ever shake the Joy of a Christian because they know Who God is and what God has done.

That joy that floods the soul leads to the next element we call peace. Like love and joy, peace or εἰρήνη (ā-rā-nā) has an emotional feeling aspect, but also like love and joy, what is important is the underlying cause.

In the 5th chapter of his letter to the Romans Paul says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The “Peace of Christ” here in verse 15, is an actual peace treaty with God signed in the blood of Jesus. Due to the cessation of hostilities with God, the Christian is also at peace with their spouse, their parents and their children. We are at peace with our fellow Christians, at peace with the world-at-large and even, believe it or not, at peace with ourselves.

It’s not to say that everything and everyone is peaceful toward the Christian.

In fact, the opposite is true, but because of the permanent Joy of the Lord caused by the Unconditional Love of God the Christian is peaceable with all and in all.

Win the Billion-dollar bracket and then compete for a chance to win $1,000. Do you really care? We’ve hit the infinite jackpot!

It is that reality that should be the litmus test for our church body… We are at peace with God and each other and we are overjoyed to be part of the family.

You, Christian friend, were elected by Almighty God to be an integral part of the ONE Body… Some see that as a way out of being in unity here.

They say I am part of the worldwide church and so I can come and go in local churches as I choose. That is a lie from Satan. It is in the local church where problems are worked through… No one can be in harmony with the church universal IF they cannot be in harmony in this church.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:16&17 VERSES ~ 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:16 BOOK
Paul taught us in chapter one (1) that it was his job to teach and admonish… His student Timothy and generations of others followed and I am included in that line.

Here in chapter three (3) Paul teaches us that it isn’t just the designated ministers who teach and admonish… it is every single believer in the church.

The prerequisite is that the Word of Christ richly dwells within you. It isn’t just about head knowledge or longevity in the faith, it is about the reality of the Gospel manifested in you.

Agapê and all its children live in and through you.

Using all the wisdom of the Holy Spirit then teach and admonish each other…

Teaching is easy enough… that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m teaching about God by teaching what His Word has to say.

Admonishing needs a little clarification. It is νουθετέω (nü-thĕ-tĕ-ō) mind + to place, meaning to place in someone’s mind and so is to warn them about danger, to admonish them to behave correctly, to exhort them to get back up, to encourage them to try again, to give them comfort so they don’t lose courage.

With all the attributes of the NEW MAN and all the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit applied to the WORD of CHRIST… teach and admonish each other…

HOW, by what means, in what way, through what medium do you teach and admonish one another?

SLIDE: UNIFIED MUSIC

The Bible is clear that for at least 3,500 years people have made music, sang songs, collectively in unified harmony worshipped God with praise and thanksgiving.

God has commanded us to get rid of the attributes that divide the church.

Clothe ourselves in the attributes that unify the church, and to teach, encourage, warn, comfort, admonish one another… through song.

Nowhere does God’s word tell us that the music needs to be perfect, or professional or even good for that matter. Never is it said that you sing so long as you can carry a tune.

Nowhere does it say only skilled musicians can make music. Nowhere is anyone regardless of their LACK of talent prohibited from making music

On the contrary, Everywhere we are told that every one of us is to vocally, bodily participate in making a joyful noise to the Lord.

God is not interested in what it sounds like – God is interested in us being unified singing His praises together in the Truth of the Gospel and in the Agapê love that it brings.

Be filled to overflowing with gratitude that you are loved and accepted and then love and accept those around you and EXPRESS that reality.

You cannot tell me that you Agapê God and not have any emotion when His praises are being sung.

How do young Christians learn and are admonished? They watch you sing the word of Christ in church.

What do they learn about Him when you refuse to participate, refuse to stand, refuse to sing, refuse to clap, refuse to lift your hands, refuse to be part of glorifying Him.

Sit there and refuse to participate because this music is beneath you or you’re too old to love God anymore or whatever excuse you might have and imagine what younger Christians learn from that. Imagine how that encourages and admonishes the children of the church.

Then imagine how Jesus views your level of participation. Once again, I’m not picking on anyone, I’m not giving you my opinion, I’m just telling you what God is telling you.

Worship team come.

It says Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs and while we could dissect all that, the bottom line is it indicates a wide range of music – a whole host of different kinds of songs, but all with the goal of praise and worship.

The key to verse 16 is that the Message – the Word of Christ is taught and Christians are exhorted… it is not the music or the melody or the instruments or the arrangement… IT IS THE MESSAGE!

The primary Message of God’s Word right here, as is so often the case, is UNITY.

How dare anyone create disunity concerning the very thing God has given the church for unity… Lord forgive us.

You are praising and worshipping Almighty God in Spirit and in Truth, from your Biblical heart – the core of your being – out of the overflow of His Agapê in you… AND you are doing as a teaching and an admonishment to one another.

SLIDE: VERSE 17

Everything inside and outside the church is to be done as Christians, as representatives and ambassadors of Jesus Christ and through Him giving thanks to our Heavenly Father.

Three times in three verses, we are to be thankful… Thankfulness comes from accepting God’s Agapê and motivates our Agapê to others…

Please be thankful people – let us show our thankfulness right now.

031614 - Colossians 3c - Put ON the attributes of the new you.
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March 18, 2014 06:42 PM PDT
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Colossians 3:10-13, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 3c ~ 031614

Last week, Almighty God commanded us to get along with each other.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:8&9 VERSES ~

Colossians 3:8&9, we looked at the negative side of the equation... Back in in verse eight (8), God commands us, to immediately (if not sooner), once-and-for-all, cast off – throw out – put aside… What?

The attitudes and behaviors associated with our OLD DEAD SELF… NOT the “OLD SELF,” itself, but the thinking, speaking and acting of the “OLD SELF.”

Why? Because in verse nine (9), we see that as Christians, we have already disposed of our “OLD SELF,” and now we will see in verse ten (10) “Have put on the “NEW SELF.”

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:10&11 VERSES ~ 10and have put on the new self…
Who is being renewed to a true knowledge…
According to the image of the One who created him—
11a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

SLIDE: DUDE WITH SHOULDER ANGEL & DEMON

In verse 10, we are told NOT to put on our “NEW SELF,” BUT that we already did that. See how the end of nine (9) flows into ten (10)?

Laying aside and putting on are both the same exact formation of the same root word ἐνδύω (ĕn-dü-ō). From ἐνδύω we get, endue, to clothe. The difference is the one is PUT ON and the other is PUT OFF. “NEW SELF” ON = ἐνδυσάμενοι (ĕn-dü-sä-mĕ-noy) – “OLD SELF” OFF = ἀπεκδυσάμενοι (äp-ĕk-dü-sä-mĕ-noy).

Both words mean that at some point you did something for yourself. Not “for yourself” in the sense of taking a bubble bath, but “for yourself” in the sense that you directed your action towards yourself.

What you did was agree to the Father’s plan. You agreed to discarding your life in favor of a new life lived for Christ.

It was a one-time choice resulting in a new direction. The Bible is telling us here that we participated in our salvation in the sense that we agreed to the deal.

The deal, IF you are a Christian, IS DONE, finished and complete.

We are NOT being told to put off an OLD SELF and put on a NEW SELF we are being told that we already did that…

We are being told to put off the evil practices of our “OLD SELF,” back in verse eight (8) from last week and here in a few minutes, coming up in verse twelve (12), we will see that we are also told to put on the Godly practices coinciding and commensurate with our “NEW SELF.”

The war is NOT between the “OLD SELF” and “NEW SELF.”

The war is between your “OLD NATURE,” the old practices associated with your “OLD SELF” and your “NEW NATURE,” the new practices, that are associated with the new you – the true you.

It is a war fought in your Biblical Heart,
which is the seat of what you truly believe. It is all about the INFLUENCES you accept that change your heart.

We could say it is Experience in all its many forms that changes your heart by giving you new insight – new knowledge – new understanding – new perspective.

The war is waged by the natural and supernatural, anti-God forces, influencing you to move your heart away from the Light of the Truth. At the same time, the Holy Spirit encouraging you to move your heart further towards the Light of Truth.

Your own memory and the physical reality you experience tells you one thing and the Holy Spirit tells you another. The choice of which influence to follow is yours, but Paul’s point here is that it should be a no brainer – it should be no choice at all… Because you already put off the “OLD” and put on the “NEW.”

That’s what it means to be a Christian – you belong to Christ.

That’s the deal; your life is not yours because you died. The life you now have is God’s life. How can you decide to go to the grocery store, let alone get married, have kids, change jobs, or decide to move to a new home without checking with Him first?

This is precisely why I say we should have a disclaimer on Christianity. How many people who have flippantly, in a moment of emotion said “Yes to Jesus” without “COUNTING THE COST.”

SINCE…

SINCE you have already laid aside the “OLD SELF” and simultaneously put on the “NEW SELF” why in the world do you still act like the person you were?

Why are you entertaining anti-God forces by allowing them to whisper in your ear?

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.

One wolf is evil. It is full of anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride and ego.

The other wolf is good. It is full of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The One you feed.” Stop conforming to what is dead by continuing to feed that wolf, continuing to accept those influences. Rather, be transformed into what you truly are in Christ by feeding on the things above.

SLIDE: VERSES 10&11 AGAIN ~

How? We need a change of perspective and a constant reminder.

God changed us metaphorically, spiritually and historically. We agreed to undergo the procedure. It is finished and what is left for us is to enter into that new reality. We don’t see the “NEW SELF” physically. Physically we only see the “OLD SELF.” It requires faith to see the “NEW SELF,” but only a mirror to see the “OLD.”

Recognize who you are in Christ – remember who you are in Christ – BE who you are in Christ.

Actively allow the Breath of God to “RENEW YOUR MIND,” to change your perspective more and more over time towards the full Alêtheia, the true knowledge of God. You are what you eat.

Too many Christians acknowledge God’s desire and yet ignore it anyway.

God loves me, He wants me to be happy and He will forgive me… it’s okay to indulge MY DESIRE over His.

Is it okay?

As part of being a “NEW PERSON,” you are a new person. For Christians, there are no distinctions anymore…

When I joined the Marine Corps, there were still many racial problems.

Violent and even deadly outbreaks were common. To combat that we were told repeatedly that none of us were, white, black, brown, red, yellow anymore. Our old civilian life was over and now we were all Marine green. Sometimes officers would ask, “What color are you Corporal?” The only correct answer was “Green sir.”

There were to be no distinctions whatsoever – we were all equals, we were all brothers-in-arms, we were all United States Marines.

That is what Paul is saying here. Whatever your previous bias, prejudice or bigotry – get over it – you’re all the same in Christ. Whatever you once thought were dividing lines or division points they are now blurred into nonexistence – you are all ONE in Jesus.

There are no political, racial, religious, cultural, social, economic, barriers to God and His acceptance of YOU, so there are to be none to us.

A person once asked me if God was okay with marriage outside of one’s own race. I asked, “You mean outside the human race? Like marrying an alien from another planet?”

We are all created by Almighty God in His image and any division is sin.

Another person, who was an Elder at his church and was originally from the Deep South, asked me if it was okay to be prejudiced. I said, “Sure, as long as you don’t plan on going to Heaven.”

No Christian person should have a prejudiced bone in their body – because you have a “NEW BODY” filled with the Holy Spirit.

I’m talking about being prejudiced in doctrine, political affiliation, race, culture, social standing, economic wherewithal or physical appearance.

Two (2) quick caveats: This has nothing to do with sinful behavior that some people try to equate with prejudice. Despite what people think it is NOT bigotry to agree with God in saying homosexual activity is a sin. Just as it is NOT bigotry to say adultery, drunkenness and child abuse are sins. This also does NOT have anything to do with gender roles. God specifically left gender out of this because He is going to explain gender difference later in this very chapter. There is complete equality of the sexes in value and worth, but not in our temporary earthly roles.

This is all part of the renewal of our perspective. Ultimately, it is conformity to “Image of the Lord.” Romans 10:11–13, 1 Corinthians 12:12–13, Galatians 3:28.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:12&13 VERSES ~ 12So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

This is our third (3rd) major list in three (3) weeks and it functions in the same basic way as the previous two (2).

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS: PUT ON ~

In Greek, the first word is “PUT ON,” or “CLOTHE,” rather than the 13th word as translated here. It is actually, “Clothe, therefore, as chosen of God, holy and beloved.” God commands us to “PUT ON.” It is the same word as back in verses 9&10, ἐνδύω, now formulated as a verbal imperative.

Previously, we were told God crucified and buried our “OLD SELF” and that we had already “PUT OFF” that old body, but then we needed to immediately, once-and-for-all “PUT OFF” the associated OLD NATURE.

We also saw that God had raised us up as a “NEW SELF” in Christ Jesus and that we had already “PUT ON” that new self, but now we are being commanded to “put on” the corresponding attitude and behavior …

Because of who you are now, “PUT ON” the Godly character associated with your resurrected self.

In our earlier lists, it was “cease and desist,” now it is DO!

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS: A HEART OF ~

The phrase, “A heart of,” doesn’t mean an emotion of, but a true self of… it is not the normal word for heart. This word carries the idea of the tender side of one’s being. Not emotion driven, but certainly not without emotion. It is typically what we think of as the female side of God as in the nurturing side.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS LIST OF STUFF ~

I’m very reluctant to go through the list because of all the Greek definitions, but since I did it with the negative it seems wrong to skip it with the positive.

MATCHING GAME
COMPASSION is οἰκτιρμός (oyk-tĭr-mŏs), a genuine heartfelt compassion for another’s misfortune – a true concern for another’s wellbeing. It is not sympathy, nor apathy, but rather it is empathy.

A man’s compassion is trying to fix the problem or correct the behavior… Think of Job’s so-called friends and their efforts to help him (Job had to pray away God’s wrath to prevent Him from smiting them). This is the true compassion normally seen in women, of just being there for another person without all the condescending judgment… When a woman vents and her husband tries to help by fixing the issue – it says to her that she’s too stupid to figure it out when what she wants is a friend… to be her friend is to show compassion.

This is trying to improve another’s future by being there for them in the present.

God saw you stuck in the miry clay do to your own fault and had “COMPASSION” for you.

kindness, χρηστότης (ĉȑā-stŏ-tās), is unmerited kindness. Anyone can be kind to those who deserve it; this is undeserved kindness.

Kindness is the quality of heart that overlooks the broken garden gate and calls attention to the flowers beyond the gate.

I would call it maturity. A small child brings me a finger painting of the church, do I say, “The color is wrong, the building is crooked and the scale is all off.” No, I look for what is good and compliment them while gently encouraging them to continue to work to improve.

I want what is best for the child’s future and harsh criticism while perhaps honest will not serve that end.

The ultimate example of Kindness is God’s willingness to give His one and only son to be humiliated, tortured and murdered in order to extend unmerited “KINDNESS” to you.

humility, ταπεινοφροσύνη (tä-pā-nŏf-rŏ-sü-nā) literally means lowliness of mind; we would say humble-minded. It is to be selflessly minded. Philippians 2:3&4 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind (ταπεινοφροσύνη) regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

This is esteeming others rather than esteeming oneself. It is NOT a false humility, a self-deprecating personality, or an inferiority complex… Biblically, it is to have the correct estimate of our self.

I recognize I am so far away from God’s perfection that I cannot possibly think of myself as superior to others.

Call up a short person and a tall person:
When I look only at humans, I see a wide gap between people because I’m using a scale or measuring device that spans the difference between the best and worst people. I can use that to grade people based upon their behavior and if I had a relatively high grade, I could feel superior.

The key is relatively… When I take my eyes off humans and look at God, I realize that the best human and the worst human are essentially the same on the scale or measuring device that is big enough to fit Him.

God is infinitely perfect and so the ruler we need is infinitely huge. The best and worst humans are so far away from Him that the difference between them is indistinguishable.

I recognize I am just as lost without God as any other person is – I have nothing to boast about… EXCEPT, boasting about God and His great salvation… that keeps me humble minded.

gentleness, πραΰτης (pȑä-ü-tās) is only possible for someone who has reached a level of true Christian maturity.

Gentleness means composure when others might be uncomposed; Gentleness is the quality of strength that accommodates another’s weakness.

In other words, gentleness is controlled power. It is like a controlled burn. You control it because it has the capacity to be uncontrolled. When an exceedingly powerful figure like the President comes into a classroom with a bunch of First graders, instead of being imperious he UNASSUMINGLY takes a regular chair and so CONSIDERATELY interacts with the kids on their level that they feel comfortable with him and see him as fully approachable. If I am truly powerful – I don’t need to remind people.

The real example is of course God. He has all the power, and yet He actually brings Himself down to our level to make us feel comfortable and to feel as though He is approachable. He allows it and He makes us feel at home because of His GENTLENESS. It’s critical to understand this and get a sense of the reverence He deserves. God in His perfection stoops down without being condescending and allows us to interact comfortably.

We must be gentle in our power as we, without condescension, lower ourselves to the level of others so they feel comfortable and we seem fully approachable.

That is true maturity because it realizes no FEAR, therefore it can humble itself, let others feel equal or even superior. It is QUIET CONFIDENCE born through a deepening relationship and understanding of who God is, what He’s done for you and who He has made you to be.

patience; μακροθυμία (mäk-ȑŏ-thü-mē-ä) literally means long wrath (a sudden outburst from held anger) with the implication that you hold onto your wrath for a very long time.

If you think about it holding your wrath means there is something going on that could really upset you. Put another way, this word is typically translated as long-suffering, well in order to be long-suffering; one has to first be long bothered.

Have you heard people say, “Don’t pray for patience.” The reason is that patience cannot be developed or tested unless there is a problem in which to be patient.

Patience is the ability to die to self because impatience is being annoyed that things are not going your way. Impatience is the absolute embodiment of selfishness.

Patience is the proof of peace with God and man.

I’m no longer at war – I’m no longer struggling to get my way – I can wait and I can do it with a good attitude.

If you have truly entered in to the peace that God provides, you can afford to be patient.

Have the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Patience sums up the list… patience is the outworking of love…

Love is compassionate kindness and humble gentleness – Love is patient.
IS GOD EVER PATIENT WITH YOU?

SLIDE: Verse 13 Again:

What is this all-encompassing quality we are commanded to adopt in keeping with our “NEW SELF”?

“Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Not only do we bear with or endure one another, we do it by being people who are slow to anger, people who intentionally overlook the insult and people who forgive easily. In Romans 15:1, it says, “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.”

It isn’t about me getting my way, it is about God getting His way and the reason I can accept that is because He has made me a “NEW MAN.”

I can be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, bear with others and forgive them because God has first done all that and more for me to a degree unfathomable.

Laurence Sterne said, “Only the brave know how to forgive... a coward never forgave; it is not in his nature.”

I would say that only those certain of God’s forgiveness can forgive. Unforgiveness is therefore a sign of weak faith and spiritual immaturity.

The power to forgive others including yourself and God comes from 1) truly and 2) correctly embracing the forgiveness you have received.

1) Truly in the sense of fully and 2) correctly in the sense of accurately.

1) If you don’t completely believe that you have been forgiven you cannot fully forgive others. Accept that your own forgiveness is complete, or never mature.

Jesus can say that we are forgiven just as we forgive, because the two things are inextricably linked.

Pray that you will experience and embrace the total forgiveness of God so that you can move forward.

2) If you feel fully and completely forgiven by God the second issue is full acknowledgment of the value of that forgiveness.

Some folks have such an over-inflated sense of self-worth they are completely deluded as to their own goodness.

A failure to grasp one’s own worthlessness is a failure to use the correct measuring device. Such a person does not exhibit true humility, ταπεινοφροσύνη
and as such cannot be compassionate, kind, gentle and patient with others.

Such a person cannot be truly forgiving of others because they cannot fathom why those others are not as good as they are. Why can’t they get their life together and be holy like me?

Use the correct measuring device and realize that even if you are the best person who ever lived, you are still down here in the cesspool with the rest of us.

Relative to God’s perfection you don’t even register. It took perfection dying on a cross to save you, just as it did to save me.

When we fully embrace both the completeness and the value of our own forgiveness we can let go of the wrongs done to us in this life and BE like God in forgiving those who do not deserve it in any way.

That’s how God forgave me – unilaterally and without any hint of worthiness on my part.

He forgave me long before I even realized there was something to forgive, let alone asked for His forgiveness.

I had to accept His forgiveness to close the deal and enter into restored relationship…

Forgiveness precedes restoration.

Have you forgiven?

030914 - Colossians 3b - Do I really need to get along with these people?
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March 16, 2014 06:51 PM PDT
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Colossians 3:8&9, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 3b ~ 030914

SLIDE: WELCOME FRIENDS!

Wednesdays and a new small group. Passover Seder.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS PAPYRUS 46

We had a tough love sermon last week.

1) We have seen that we Christians are COMPLETE in Christ because of the desire, sacrifice and power of God.

2) Since that is true, we cannot and should not do anything to help our standing with Him… He has already done it all for us. There is nothing for us to do except mess up what He’s done.

3) WHEN that is true, we can rest from our struggle to gain God’s acceptance and instead enter in to the deeply personal love relationship He’s enabled.

4) WHEN that is true, we sincerely want to please Him, because we LOVE Him.

How could a person say that they love God – that they are God’s friend – that they are God’s child and NOT care about pleasing Him?

Married people… Completely forget about pleasing your spouse for a few days and tell me what effect that has on your spouse’s disposition. Tell me where your relationship stands afterward. Do it with a friend, a child a parent…

IF I say, I love my wife and do nothing to please her I am simply a liar… a self-centered liar. Likewise, IF I say I love God and continue to ignore Him and His desire as I did before I was saved into relationship with Him I am a self-centered liar.

Now, there is the possibility that I do want to please my wife or my God, but do not have the strength to overcome my fleshly self-centered nature.

God has taken care of that as well…

Whoever you were was crucified and buried in Christ’s death. That alcohol abusing, sexually promiscuous, drug loving, lying, cheating, stealing, dissention spreading, boastful, gossiping, mean-spirited, overly sensitive scum sucking dog you once were is gone forever.

You are a NEW person raised up in Christ’s Resurrection… it is a fresh start… it is a “DO OVER,” but more than that it is also a completely different start.

In a “do over” you just make different mistakes, but as a child of God filled with the Holy Spirit you have a completely DIFFERENT basis to operate from.

As a Spirit-filled Christian, you have already been given everything necessary to overcome your evil, fleshly, self-centered, sinful, animalistic desires and live for Him.

With God… “I am NOT an animal!” any more.

Now you are to LIVE for God, rather than living for yourself.

As John Chrysostom said, “This is not your life.” Live for Jesus and the Glory of the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In last week’s verses, we saw that Paul used sexual sin to give an example of the types of attitudes and behaviors that should be as alien to a Christian as singing praise songs in church is to an atheist.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:5&6 IN COLOR

God COMMANDED US TO (yellow),
Put to death…
everything…
That is…
earthly in you…

He gave four (4) elements (red) that were summed up with a fifth (5th) (blue) translated simply as greed. It is πλεονεξία, the desire for MORE than your fair share and in this case is greed as “sexual greed”

Sexual greed summing up the totality of sexual sin is tied to a sixth element IDOLATRY (green). It boils the whole topic down to a theological reality… it is the bottom line to sexual sin from God’s perspective.

The entire list becomes a single comprehensive look at sexual greed, which ultimately is nothing more than IDOLATRY.

It all functions to tell us that our personal desire for sexual relations beyond what is Biblically allowed amounts to putting our desire ahead of God’s desire. I don’t care what the pastor says, I don’t care what the Bible says, I don’t care what God says, I want, what I want, and I want it, right now.

That is the very definition of sin, disobedience, evil, selfishness and IDOLATRY. It is serving your flesh, instead of serving God.

It goes on to give the reason (white) for the importance of repudiating sexual sin… “It is because of these (KINDS OF) things that the wrath of God will come…” (Colossians 3:5b-6a).

It is, stop doing things in accordance with your former self, such as the whole gamut of sexual sin, which boils down to idolatry.

Why, because it is for idolatry the wrath of God came in the Garden of Eden, and has come upon the world throughout human history and will come, once and for all, very soon.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:8&9 VERSES ~ 8But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices…

List number two (2). We have, once again, an admonishment to STOP thinking, speaking, acting, i.e. being a certain way. Another COMMAND from Almighty God to “Put them all aside,” it is like…

SLIDE: PORTA POTTY POLICE

Imagine falling headlong into a full porta-potty. Someone fishes you out – not me, but someone. When you get to a shower and scrub yourself clean, are you going to put those same clothes back on?

Are you going to put those clothes into your washing machine at home?

We are to take off, like an old “spoiled” garment, these things on today’s list and cast them away from us… I don’t want those clothes anymore. I don’t want these other things anymore either.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:8&9 VERSES ~

I, as a Christian, don’t want to be polluted by, “Anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech,” and hypocrisy anymore because that’s no longer who I am.

That sums these verses up nicely. In 1 Corinthians 13:11 it says, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”

That verse is part of the world famous LOVE chapter used at 90% of the weddings I’ve attended or officiated.

You’ve all heard it… “4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).

Is God talking about marriage? Those practically worn out verses are about unity, harmony and LOVE in the CHURCH!

It is about you and me getting along with one another and sure that is difficult if I act like the selfish spoiled baby I was born to be…

But, IF I recognize that with the Holy Spirit’s power I can grow beyond the fearful child I once was, I can “Put childish things like anger, wrath, malice slander and abusive speech away.” I can STOP being a HYPOCRITE!

It is a command to cease and desist. Will we heed God’s command for today? Will we observe it for a week, a month, a year? How long will we obey God?

This list functions in the same basic way as the list last week.

We have a list that creates a fully facetted picture of a single issue. It seems like we are talking about a handful of bad behaviors, but they all work together to paint a picture of a person who is difficult to get along with.

Also like our previous list, we finish with the reason it is so important to discard this negative, hostile, divisive disposition. “You laid aside the old self with its evil practices.”

The difference in the two lists, is that the first one we dealt with last week is about you personally and your sins against God.

We could say it is all that interferes with your relationship with Jesus.

Today’s list is about your sin against God that hinders unity in the Body of Christ. Certainly, there is some overlap, but the list today is primarily about not getting along with your church family.

These things are those that interfere with your relationship with other Christians.

We’ve talked about it before and since these are our verses today I guess God wants us to talk about it again.

All human beings are full of fear… fear, fear, fear! It is NOT love that makes the world go around, it is fear. “According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy. Jerry Seinfeld.

Public speaking really is a huge fear for many people… WHY? Fear of embarrassment… fear you won’t be received well – that’s what shyness is all about. Royal College of Psychiatrists “The primary defining characteristic of shyness is a largely ego-driven fear of what other people will think of a person's behavior, which results in the person becoming scared of doing or saying what he or she wants to, out of fear of negative reactions, criticism, rejection, and simply opting to avoid social situations instead.” Why is Putin in Crimea? fear. Why do we Americans care? FEAR.

FEAR is the cause of every evil thing you see happening around you. Humans are afraid that things will NOT work out the way they want them to work out… and so they think, speak and act in a whole host of ways to manipulate their environment and other people to improve the odds that they will get their way.

You are a child of God filled with His perfect love. “There is no fear in love and perfect love drives out fear…” that’s what the Bible says (1 John 4:18).

When we live in fear, we develop mechanisms to cope. Many of them become so natural to us that we are often unaware that we are employing them.

As an example, I may say something that irritates or offends you. You may hit me with a verbal barb, make a face, end our relationship or in some other way express your displeasure with me.

You are defending yourself from feeling vulnerable, hurt, or victimized.

It is born out of fear even if it was just a habit, you have developed, just an unthinking reaction to a given situation. It was originally born out of fear.

God is saying, you are My child whom I love, so you do not need to worry about what anyone else thinks about you.

I am your defender; cast this divisive tool bag of FEAR away because you don’t need it anymore. You’re bigger than that now – you’ve grown up – stop acting like a child.

SLIDE: THE ELEMENTS

What is the tool bag of fear?

It is helpful to understand how these words relate to each other in this particular context… so sorry about the academic feel, but here we go again…

1) “Anger” is ὀργή (ŏȑ-gā), which means a state of strong disapproval, dissatisfaction, discontentment, displeasure –
I’m intentionally using negating words to show these are the opposite of a state of being approving, satisfied, contented and pleased.

Anger is the stewed upon irritations that create an almost deliberate unhappiness.

I have been wronged; I think that is unfair; I don’t like what they are doing… I will dwell on my irritation and refuse to be happy… I CHOOSE to be angry!
If I’ve been wronged in some way or I disapprove of something and don’t wrap myself up in my unhappy displeasure… how will anyone know I recognize the insult or disapprove of the situation?
More than 23 centuries ago, Aristotle defined ὀργή as, “Desire with grief.” In other words, I desired something, but my desire was thwarted and I am left with grief. It is the result of unmet EXPECTATIONS.

If you have an expectation for me WHEN, not if, but when I fail to live up to your expectation you become disappointed, disillusioned and if you stew on it you will become irritated and if you stew on that you will become angry.

2) Closely related to ὀργή, is “WRATH” θυμός (thü-mŏs). It originally had to do with gusty wind. All at once, a big gust of wind comes up as an impetuous outburst seemingly from nowhere.

It wasn’t from nowhere, it was born of a DISPOSITION. “Wrath” is the sudden violent outburst of “Anger.”

A pivotal element of the Fruit of the Spirit is “Patience.” It is μακροθυμία (mä-kȑä-thü-mē-ä); the first bit means to hold for a long time – the second part is this outburst of “Anger,” we call “Wrath.” To hold your wrath is to be patient as God is patient.

Let’s say you have an internal irritability or ANGER scale that runs from one (1) to ten (10). Let’s say ten is where we lose it in an outburst of wrath. If you are at a two and something happens that instantly elevates you five points you are able to hold your wrath at a manageable seven.

If you are already running at a six and the same thing happens you are instantly over the edge.

That’s how these two relate. We were talking about straws on the camel’s back. If you have an irritation, let’s think about it as a straw and if you get enough straws, the camel’s back breaks.

If you resolve every irritation you never have more than a single straw on the Camel’s back at any given time. The straws can’t accumulate because you keep sweeping them away and so it is impossible for the Camel’s Back to ever break.

That’s what the Bible means when it says, “26And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26&27).

TWO FLYS, manure and pitchfork.

3) “MALICE” is actually κακία (kä-kē-ä) from our old friend κακός (kä-kŏs). It means bad or evil and in this formulation and context, it means bad or evil thinking.

It is thinking wicked thoughts and as it becomes a habit of the mind, the person becomes inherently evil.

It becomes your heart attitude of bitterness as a victim and warps to a desire for retribution as a persecutor.

Quintin Tarantino has written and directed two movies recently where we can readily see the progression.

The first deals with the Nazis and Jews in World War II. The second deals with slave owners and slaves in the American South.

In both movies, the victims of unspeakable violence and dehumanizing evil turn the tables on their persecutors and act in exactly the same way by being just as ruthless and inhumane in their new role as persecutors victimizing their former tormentors.

“Malice” is allowing negative, hostile, divisive feelings to turn to thoughts of retribution. Oh, you’ll say it is justice, but it is only evil thinking. Jesus said it this way, “21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23“All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21–23).

4) “SLANDER” is βλασφημία (bläs-fā-mē-ä). Of course giving us our word blasphemy that we associate with a religious sense.

What is it to blaspheme God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit? It is activity of any kind, but primarily speech, which belittles or disrespects them.

Here it is not directly about God. It is one’s thinking, their body language, physical actions, but especially their words – primarily the things they speak aloud that defame another person, specifically another Christian.

It is very similar to gossip – in lists “Gossip” is often side-by-side with “Slander” (Romans 1:29-30 & 2 Corinthians 12:20).

Gossip is whispered and slander is proclaimed. Both belittle, denigrate, vilify, defame, insult, disparage, criticize and or disrespect another.

We think it is gossip, slander or blasphemy only when it is false – at least partially untrue. The factuality has nothing to do with it. It isn’t to lie about a person or even to misrepresent a person. It could be 100% true. It is to damage a person without a truly Godly cause. There’s the loophole. I’m only saying this so you will pray for them, so I can protect others from their evil, so I can expose them to get them the help they need. Look, Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

James 3:8&9 says, “8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.” Slander, like gossip, at its core is a judgment about others with a guilty verdict resulting in a curse pronouncement. It is to “Curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.”

You can drag a person’s name through the mud and ruin their reputation with only the facts.

This has to do with your character and your motives – it has to do with wanting to hurt another person whether with the facts, or with your opinion or with your assumptions or with your lies – it makes no difference.

A person recently left the church and, as is often the case, went out and slandered me. This person criticized me to others based upon facts, his opinions, his assumptions and his exaggeration, which is his lies.

Because others accept what they are told without investigation, he damaged my reputation.

DELRAY BILLMEYER – LET’S PRAY!

Story of the Drunk Woman and the passenger reaction on my plane. I’m sure there were many stories told about her outrageous behavior that day.

Gossip, Slander and Blasphemy are born out of an attitude to do damage to another. It may seem like there are many reasons people do that, but it all boils down to fear.

No Christian should have such fear anymore.

“ABUSIVE SPEECH” is αἰσχρολογία (īs-ĉȑŏ-lŏ-gē-ä), disgraceful or obscene speech. Aristotle said it was the kind of talk expected from the lower classes, but not from gentlemen.

We think of expletives or four-letter words or cussing or colorful metaphors or curse words or profanity.

My dad loved to tell me, “Profanity is a crutch for the inarticulate.” Even though this word can have that meaning and without context it would most likely mean profane words and stories, I think there’s something else happening.

It is like Greed on our previous list and seeing it as an unrelated lust for money rather than seeing it as a summary of the list meaning sexual greed.

This word for “Abusive speech” is another hapax legomenon (meaning it only occurs once in the entire Bible).

What if it means the whole of disgraceful, ugly, shameful, disrespectful and abusive speech and the attitude that produces it along with the actions that follow it… what if it is all of this stuff?

I think instead of talking about cuss words, Paul is talking about a summation of the whole issue at hand.

Do not be people who harbor ill will, to do stew on negative things, do not be one comment away from boiling over, do not plot and plan retribution and betrayal.

All of this functions to describe a contentious or divisive person. Proverbs 26:21 “Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.” Titus 3:10, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.

SLIDE: DO NOT LIE TO ONE ANOTHER

In context, this takes the sin of being difficult to a theological sense.

This could be stated as do not be a hypocrite.

It means to mislead, not simply lie. In other words, it is to lie in the sense of being deceitful in any way shape or form. It is to misrepresent who you are and what you truly believe through omission or commission. Homer writing nearly 3,000 years ago used it for a “Breach of an agreement.”

It was to deal falsely, to be treacherous, to backstab another… to be erratic and untrustworthy.

Clement of Rome nearly 2,000 years ago used the word to mean someone who is “Unfaithful.”

How difficult is it to get along with someone who says one thing, but means another?

More than that though, it is how can you get along with a person who is not what they seem to be.

Christians should have nothing to hide – we should actually BE transparent to each other.

This is about the Body of Christ on earth getting along and for you right now that is the people here.

If you cannot get along with the people here – you cannot possibly say that you love them. If you do not love these here today, you do not love God.

You do not need to defend yourself anymore… PRAY & TRUST HIM.

We have bigger fish to fry my friends.

030214 - Colossians 3a - What's Sin Got to Do With It?
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March 06, 2014 10:41 AM PST
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Colossians 3:1-7, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 3a ~ 030214

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS PAPYRUS 46

God has taught us in the first two chapters of Colossians that Jesus is EVERYTHING.

We have seen the absolute power and therefore capability of Jesus to save and the complete security of those who accept His salvation.

Last week we saw the futility of trying to save ourselves… it is DOUBLE blasphemy because it assumes that His salvation is defective or insufficient. It is a blasphemy because it assumes that I can fix it.

It is total trust in God’s PLAN through FAITH in Jesus alone… from both sides…

There is the positive side; full trust in Jesus, but there is also the negative side; complete abandonment of any other way – that’s harder.

All my eggs are in one basket… I’m fully committed to that proposition and I refuse to “hedge my bet” in any way, shape or form.

That means I will not lift a proverbial “finger” to gain God’s acceptance.

Carefully listen to this… I refuse to be good and I refuse to abstain from evil for His acceptance. I will not obey the Bible or the church and I will not reject Satan or the world to make my salvation sure.

I will not change in any way – I will not curb my appetites – I will not perform to get what God has already given to me. He said that I am already COMPLETE in Him!

It is finished – I am a saint. So If I am truly reliant on the righteousness of Jesus instead of any righteousness of my own… why should I be at all concerned about my fleshly passions? Why should I behave any differently than I did before He saved me? My soul is saved, my flesh will be destroyed anyway… what does it matter what my flesh does?

More than that… why not disobey even more if I’m covered by grace, Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more… More sin = more grace. Paul rhetorically asked then, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1).

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:1-3 ~ glasses ~ 1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Once again, we start with a, “Therefore,” and it is the reason I started with a review of chapters one and two. The information preceding these verses… especially the bit about not trying to be more savable is the purpose of our verses today.

As a Holy Spirit filled Christian, I am a new creation in Christ and am no longer the person who I once was. That old man is dead and buried and the new man is made alive, “Hidden with Christ in God.”

SLIDE: WHAT SHALL WE SAY…

I mentioned Paul’s rhetorical question in Romans 6:1… “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?”

SLIDE: MAY IT NEVER BE…

This is the Apostle’s, answer to his own question, “May it never be!” It is, μὴ γένοιτο = the verb, become, or happen, or simply, be. It is in the optative mood and functions almost like a question… “Be?” “NEVER!”

μὴ γένοιτο is one of Paul’s favorite phrases and could be translated with the sense, “God forbid that you would come to that conclusion,” or, “No way, are you crazy?”

He goes on to say in Romans 6, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:1-7).

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:1-3 ~ glasses ~

We can see many of the same threads in these verses…

If you are a Christian, you have been raised up metaphorically and spiritually and historically with the same resurrection of Jesus.

Your life is now, “Hidden with Christ in God.”

However, you have not physically died with Jesus and therefore you have not physically been buried with Jesus, so it also follows that you have not been physically resurrected with Jesus… YET.

We have, however, died, been buried and been resurrected metaphorically, spiritually and historically.

Since that is a fact as well as a Truth, we are to BE the person we are in Christ NOW, rather than continuing to act like the person, we were BEFORE. Live the life of the metaphorically, spiritually and historically resurrected person instead of continuing to live the life of the physical person who is already dead.

SLIDE: CONFORMED ~ TRANSFORMED ~

I have used Paul’s amazing juxtaposition in Romans 12:2a many times to illustrate this Biblical Truth, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…”

There is a huge difference between conformed συσχηματίζω (süs-ĉā-mä-tē-dzō), and transformed μεταμορφόω (mĕ-tä-mŏȑ-fŏ-ō), that recent scholars dismiss. They ignore the difference because of faulty logic on their part, rather than any actual evidence. They are wrong; if you want more information come to Sunday school. For now, trust me… there’s an intentional difference.

Conformed, συσχηματίζω is like putting on a mask or costume to look like someone or something that you are not.

It is very much like being an actor.

You take on the external appearance and characteristics of a false persona, but over time, especially if you are not careful the false persona invades your interior and you begin to think like that character more and more. Heath Ledger.

In this case, you are pretending to be the person you used to be.

The formation of the verb as a present, imperative tells us that God commands us to quit acting that way… The verb is also passive so it is more like quit allowing the demonic forces, worldly influences and your own memory to cause you to behave contrary to who you are in Jesus.

There is this misunderstanding among Christians whereby they confuse the Old Self with the Old Nature and so think that we are a mixture of our old self and new self. That’s wrong. Your old self died with Jesus the moment of your salvation never to live again. That old person is buried forever.

The OLD NATURE that rears its ugly head is the result of us forgetting that fact – forgetting WHO we are in HIM now.

God is saying, “Stop forgetting that you abandoned your old self to the grave in order that you might be raised up a new creation in Christ.” Stop acting like the person who no longer exists.

Transformed, μεταμορφόω is also a present passive imperative. It is the word translated as transfigured when Jesus allowed Who He really was inside to become visible on the outside.

It is to exhibit externally the person you are internally – the true you at your core; you are a NEW CREATION filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the command here is to allow the Holy Spirit to cause you to think, speak and act as the COMPLETE child of God you actually already are.

How do we stop allowing our memory, worldly influences and demonic forces derail us and simultaneously allow the Holy Spirit to keep us on track?

SLIDE: RENEWING OF YOUR MIND

Here in Romans 12, it is the “Renewing of your mind,” and in the Romans 6 verses, I read earlier, it was all about the mind and understanding as well. Paul asked, “Do you not know…” then after explaining things, he tells them, “Knowing this…” respond.

In our Colossian verses today, it is “Keep seeking the things above,” and, “Set your mind on the things above.” Repeatedly, the Bible tells us that while our OLD SELF has been replaced by a NEW SELF, we only see the OLD SELF in the mirror – we only see the physical world around us.

Our problem with sin is a PERSPECTIVE problem…

We need NEW thinking to go along with our NEW SELF. New thinking is a process whereby we actively surrender to the work of God in us.

It is the power of the Holy Spirit over time working on a cooperative Christian that transforms them to Christ.

Will you allow your memory and outside influences and the deception of Satan to distract you into conforming to your OLD DEAD SELF?

Or will you allow the Holy Spirit to transform you into the NEW CREATION you truly are in Him?

We have already seen in Colossians the goal of the letter. In chapter one (1) it was, “So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

In chapter two (2), it was, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6).

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:1-3 ~ glasses ~

In chapter three (3), it is a couplet and then a reason. The same basic notion repeated for emphasis and clarity…

First (1st), verse one (1): If you are a Christian – “You have been raised up with Christ.” It isn’t a question, it is a fact – you have been raised up in New Life. If then, you are a Christian, continuously, constantly seek after HIM.

Seek after Jesus and His character. Seek after the things of God because you are now OF God.

The second (2nd), part of the couplet is verse two (2). The implication of, “Set your mind,” just like, “Keep seeking,” means that there is a choice here.

You, Christian person, choose where you will set your focus.

You can set it on Jesus and heavenly things or you can set it on the baser things of the flesh.

You can choose to be distracted by the physical world you dwell in… or you can see everything with God’s perspective and live your life where Jesus dwells.

The nuance difference between verse one (1) and two (2), is verse one is about your desire and verse two is about your thinking. They work together to indicate your entire direction of life or as I said before… your focus.

The reason was given in verse one (1) positively… “You have been raised up with Christ,” and in verse three (3), it is given negatively, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

You cannot “Be raised,” if you haven’t “Died” first.

As a dead and now raised person your New life, your motivations, your power, your focus “Is hidden with Christ in God.”

Non-Christians cannot fathom the life of the Christian.

We see that in our Christian walk today, but it isn’t the tiniest inkling of what many Christians have experienced in other times and in other places.

Why does an elderly Polycarp well into his eighties refuse to be spared and instead insists that he be burned alive for his faith in Jesus.

How can that possibly make sense to non-Christians?

Christians in places like, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen hold to Christ... continue to preach the Gospel… continually assemble together for “church” services and refuse to deny Jesus when caught.

How can any non-Christian comprehend that activity when it will cost them their livelihood, their property, their freedom and even their life on earth?

That’s the reason… They realize that their life on earth is not what is important… They realize that their true life “Is hidden with Christ in God,” not hidden in this physical fleshly container.

We struggle with,
“Oh, I NEED a new dishwasher, so I wonder if God will mind if I reduce my giving to the church?”
“I have such a great boyfriend and I want to keep his attention, so I wonder if God will really care if I have sex with him?”
“It’s really cold today, and I don’t feel all that great, surely God won’t mind if I don’t go to church?”

These people struggle with, “I don’t have any food to eat, let alone dishes to wash, yet I’m giving what I have to the church.”
“I have such a great boyfriend, I sure hope someone doesn’t cut off his head and rape me today.”
These people would give anything to be able to come every Sunday and Wednesday to fellowship with YOU. It would never enter their mind to skip church if there was any way they could be here with us.

We are fat and lazy and spoiled and therefore we are unfocused on “The things above,” God forgive us for our pettiness. Lord help us get it…

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 3:4-7 ~ WHY IT MATTERS ~
4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. 5Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.

I’ve left out the specific things for now, we will hit them at the end, let me just say that they are personal things in you that you individually need to deal with.

Over the next few weeks we will see three (3) lists and some other stuff here in chapter three and four (3&4) that relate to family and the relationships in the church, but today the list is all about your personal struggle with sin.

Why does Paul tell us, “No one is to act as your judge,” and, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize,” and “Why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees?”

Then turn right around and start in on lists of stuff to do and stuff to avoid?

Do not think, say or do anything as a legalist…, which is to say, think, say, do, nothing to enhance your salvation. That still stands… so don’t let today’s verses alter what was established last Sunday.

Our life is CHRIST. He will return for you and when He does YOU will be vindicated just as He is vindicated.

If the world doesn’t understand us, it started because it first didn’t understand Jesus.

Jesus will be fully vindicated and at that same time so will all His true disciples.

Because of that, quit living like you are the person Christ buried. Preaching these verses 1,600 years ago John Chrysostom said, “This is not your life.”

Jesus did NOT come to save people so they could sin, He saved us FROM sin!

If sin is no big deal, then why did Jesus need to suffer and die to pay for sin?

Let us wake up and recognize that in Jesus there was no sin and we are to be just like Him. Of course we are NOT to sin.

The entire reason that Jesus had to come is that the WRATH of God has come and, “Will come upon the sons of disobedience.”

Make no mistake, You were once a son of disobedience, but no longer, so get with the program.

Take sin seriously, because God does. Without Jesus we are all still “Sons of disobedience.” and there is only the “Wrath of God” for those still stuck in their sins.

Honestly, IF the only difference between an atheist and me is that, the atheist gets to sleep in on Sunday, how am I a witness for Christ? How am I salt and light in this fallen and depraved world? How am I like Jesus?

SLIDE: THE SINS !!! SEX ALERT !!! I’M going to talk about what the Bible talks about ~

“Immorality” is πορνεία (pŏȑ-nā-ä), which quite simply is any sexual intercourse outside of the marriage of one man and one woman.

It is no more than that and it is no less than that. It is extra-marital sexual intercourse (obviously not including rape) with any other person or animal.

It has nothing to do with pornography, lust, masturbation, or sexual activity with your Biblically lawful spouse.

It does prohibit as vile sin any sexual intercourse of a homosexual nature, multiple participants, pre-marriage, adultery, post marriage…

Basically, everything that goes on in your living room on any given evening if you are watching T.V.

That’s πορνεία translated as IMMORALITY or fornication or promiscuity… I wish we get over our aversion to the truth and call it what it is so that people would understand. My definition is Biblically unlawful sexual intercourse. Sometimes it takes four English words.

“IMPURITY” is ἀκαθαρσία (ä-kä-thär-sē-ä), which means NOT-cleansed (cathartic) as in unclean, impure or filthy. In this context, it primarily means someone who engages in deviant sexual activity. Sexually defiling oneself.

“PASSION” is πάθος (path-ŏs), which means passion (sympathy = feel together, apathy = not feel). It originally had to do with suffering and so it indicates something that is very strong and almost outside of a person’s control so it is an intense desire.

Here that intense desire or passion is LUST. This is to strongly desire sexual relations outside of marriage.

I said πορνεία had nothing to do with lust, well this is all about lust.

Can you make out with your girlfriend or boyfriend and not lust?

“EVIL DESIRE” is ἐπιθυμία κακός (ĕ-pē-thü-mē-ä kä-kŏs), which means craving evil, longing for what is illicit, desiring what is forbidden.

Once again the specific context is sexual desire for what a child of God, a disciple of Christ, a Holy Spirit filled Christian, should not desire.

“GREED” is πλεονεξία (plĕ-ŏ-nĕx-ē-ä), which means covetousness.

The first (1st) part of πλεονεξία gives us plethora, i.e. excess. The second (2nd) part of πλεονεξία gives us nexus, i.e. interconnected. It is a systematic and interconnected desire for an excess, for more than your fair share.

Wanting more than your share, must necessarily come out of someone else’s share. A pizza with eight (8) slices and four (4) people – you take three (3) – it is the epitome of selfishness.

In our context it is sexual greed… it is wanting more sexual activity than GOD HAS GIVEN YOU.

God is currently telling you that you can have this much sex… it may be sex with your opposite gender lawfully wed spouse or it may be no sex at this time.

When we refuse to trust God’s judgment on the matter – God’s decision for our situation right now… we are greedy.

Greed in all its forms comes at someone else’s expense… always.

You think addiction to porn or paying a prostitute or secretly meeting another lover or passionately making out with a friend of the same or opposite gender hurts no one, but you are wrong.

It hurts everyone, but most of all it hurts Jesus who already paid for your GREED on the Cross.

Either trust God fully with every facet of your life or be honest enough to say you don’t really trust Him in any facet of your life.

Greed is directly tied to IDOLATRY. Why? Because sexual greed is the summation of the previous four (4) elements.

All five (5) elements function to tell us that our personal desire for sexual relations beyond what is Biblically allowed amounts to putting our desire ahead of God’s desire. Forget about God’s Will, I want My will done.

That is the very definition of sin, disobedience, evil, selfishness and IDOLATRY.

IDOLATRY is serving your flesh instead of serving God.

In our society, we think nothing of promiscuity and indulging our every desire including our sexual desire. Ephesians 5:5, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

That is why Paul can talk about the whole gamut of just a single issue – sexual relations… It is a model for every other area of your life.

SLIDE: ~ If you have died, “This is not your life.”

It is no longer about serving your flesh – it is about getting serious and serving the perfect will of God.

012614 - Colossians 2a - What's Love Got to Do With It?
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January 27, 2014 11:12 AM PST
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Colossians 2:1-3, Pastor Scott Keller

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS PAPYRUS 46

Paul graphically taught that in creating, and in sustaining, and in reconciling, Jesus is supremely all-sufficient.

Paul said that was his mandate from God, to teach them about Jesus’ all-sufficiency. Paul was appointed to “Preach of the Word of God.” Because their ability to accept Salvation and to grow as Christians was preceded by learning. Christianity is tied directly to receiving information. Someone has to teach, share knowledge, “Preach of the Word of God.”

The accuracy of our acceptance and resultant relationship with God is proportional to the accuracy of our understanding of Him and His offer.

1) SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 2:1-3 BLACK~
1For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love,

2) SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 2:1-3 DEEP GRAY ~
and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

3) SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 2:1-3 LIGHT GRAY ~

Every correspondence has a main purpose. In this case the main purpose of this letter we call Colossians is about to be revealed.

4) SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 2:1-3 VERY LIGHT ~

To this point, Paul has said “Howdy,” gotten all the pleasantries out of the way and has set in stone the “Big Picture” things like the majesty, supremacy and all-sufficiency of Jesus, that set the stage.

5) SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 2:1-3 NO WORDS ~

These verses constitute the final piece of his preparation before getting to his main point.

First, In verse one (1), Paul wants to solidify his personal standing as one they should listen to – much like a counselor, doctor or lawyer having all their diplomas and accolades on display in their office.

It shouts, “I’m an expert and you should do what I tell you.”

Paul is letting them know, that while he did not personally establish the churches in the Lycus Valley, and had never met many of the Christians there, he was still their Apostle.

What is amazing is the way in which Paul does it…

He appeals to something that only those who have experienced the Holy Spirit could fully grasp.

He shares his heart for them – his deep concern for their spiritual well-being and his unnatural (actually supernatural) love for them, thus proving his pure motive for writing to them.

SLIDE: ZOOMING IN ON VERSES 2&3: THAT

Zooming in on verses 2 & 3… Verse two (2) starts out with the word ἵνα (hē-nä), which means, “In order that.” It really stresses purpose. Paul greatly struggled for those Christians he had never met, “For the purpose of,” or, “In order that…”

As soon as I say I am doing something, “In order that…” you would know that I’m about to tell you my purpose. I’m going to answer the “WHY” I’m bothering you question.

SLIDE: HEARTS MAY BE ENCOURAGED

In Greek, the answer to the “WHY” question is a verb in the subjunctive mood. In this case, it is “May be encouraged.” It doesn’t imply doubt about the outcome – it just answers the question of purpose. Instead of “That their hearts MAY be encouraged.” You could say, “In order that your hearts BE encouraged.” While that’s the gist, it incorrectly translates the mood of the verb.

What is Paul’s purpose for telling them he struggled on their behalf? His first purpose, was so that their “Hearts [would] be encouraged.”

The verb itself is παρακαλέω (pä-rä-kä-lĕ-ō), which means to call another to come alongside you, typically for the purposes of strengthening the other person or persons thereby encouraging, exhorting, and even beseeching them to stay with you and on course.

USMC Run on the beach.

Heart is simply καρδία (kär-dē-ä), a physical blood pump and so, it is a metaphor. The metaphorical use of heart in the Bible is NOT the metaphorical way we use heart in our culture. We usually think of heart as the seat of emotion and so especially as the place of emotional love. “I love my spouse with all my heart,” means I have a warm feeling for them until I don’t.” Then I file for divorce.

The very next phrase is, “Having been knit together in love,” so it fits our erroneous notion of an emotional, lovey-dovey, Kumbayah thing all about HOW I FEEL.

Heart, biblically, refers to the seat of reason. It is almost the opposite of our American idea of emotion. I’m reading my very first novel by a female author (I think it is my first book in over 50 years of reading by a female author) and it is an amazing experience. The time devoted to the character’s moods, wardrobe, inner thoughts, exterior appearance and especially emotions is remarkable. The thing that really grabs my attention is the beloved main character is constantly making the worst possible decisions. Endlessly endangering herself and her friends, always upsetting others and causing continuous drama. Yet, she is loved for all her dumb choices because she acts out of a true heart, which is to say out of an abundance of emotion. Never reasoning, just acting.

I’m NOT saying only females are emotional or are the only ones to make bad choices. I’m simply saying that we often emphasize a person’s emotional response to God, especially if we tend to be more emotional in general. Biblically proper emotion as a response to God can only flow from proper reasoning/understanding/accepting/choosing.

Notice that emotional response is right and good, but only when it is preceded by rational choice.

Biblically, the heart is the TRUTH of a person and that is why God judges the heart. God would never judge a person’s emotional response – He judges what is real. It’s just that eventually emotional response reveals the Truth of a person.

The heart is where we take all the evidence, all the arguments, all the experiences and all the stimuli that has come to us through our senses and then filter and examine and compare and understand and choose – the heart is where we accept genuinely.

Not where we accept intellectually, cerebrally, academically… not where we accept emotionally, spiritually, meditatively… it is where we accept to the core of our being and make it our own. It therefore absolutely becomes WHO WE ARE!

That is why “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). That is why “You will know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-20).

True belief will be obvious to the most casual observer. If people know you and have no idea that you are a Christian, you’ve got a big problem.

The heart is where we hold our true beliefs, it is the dwelling place of our actual worldview and it is the launching pad of our perspective on things.

To παρακαλέω their hearts was to encourage them to stay true to the acceptance of Christ that they started with – to stay the course right alongside the Apostle Paul in staying true to their convictions and unwavering in their faith.

SLIDE: HAVING BEEN KNIT TOGETHER IN LOVE

“That their hearts may be encouraged” was Paul’s first purpose. Building on that purpose, his intermediate or transitional purpose was that the heart encouragement was ACTUALIZED. It must be enabled by, and made real through, and therefore inextricably tied, to “Having been knit together in love.”

It is literally, “Unified in love.” The “Unified,” word translated here, as the four (4) words, “Having been knit together,” is συμβιβάζω (süm-bĭ-bädz-ō). It means to bring together, unify, unite, knit together, but with the sense of an intellectual process.

The word originally meant to bring two ideas together for the purposes of comparing or examining them by meditating or cogitating on them Herodotus of Halicarnassus and the famous Plato as well as others used it that way. Sometimes the word is actually translated as “Instruct,” as in 1 Corinthians 2:16. It is translated as, “To prove a point” (Acts 9:22), “To come to a conclusion” (Acts 16:10), and “To teach” (Exodus 4:12 LXX).

It is like this… a new group of students have widely divergent ideas, but over time the instruction from the teacher gets all the students thinking alike… the instruction that they accept as true causes them to be “UNIFIED.”

You might ask, “What does that have to do with love?”

The word “Love,” is not the emotional feeling of being in love that we think of, but is our friend, ἀγάπη (ä-gä-pā). Agapê is an intellectual choice to love based on the character of the lover rather than on the lovability of the loved. Agapê, unlike human love is God love – it is unconditional, altruistic and selfless.

It has nothing to do with emotion – it has everything to do with choice.
Choice comes from the Biblical heart and is arrived at through instruction and understanding.

Paul is saying that you have recognized, understood and now experienced the unconditional love of God poured out for you in Jesus. That REALITY is what has knitted you together into one Body of Christ.

It is that fact, proven true, day after day – their unification with God resulting in, and aided by, and defined as, their unification with each other that also caused Paul to strive, struggle, and suffer for them. For people he had never met. It is that which will strengthen their hearts – their resolve.

It must be the same with you and me. Our heart courage based upon our firmly held belief caused us to choose to love each other as we are being conformed in unity by His INSTRUCTION.

We are encouraged by the unifying Agapê that only comes from God and is seen in the members of His Body. Every time a Christian CHOOSES to Agape another, it encourages the Body and conversely, every time a Christian CHOOSES to act out of fear and selfishness it weakens the Body.

Loving each other is a command and it is the evidence of Christ in us. It is not the emotional touchy-feely love so often promoted, but the intellectual love of choice. A choice predicated on UNITY of TRUTH.

Because of the love of God, I choose to put your needs ahead of my needs… that’s agapê and it is only that, which can hold this body together. Unified in love we are encouraged in heart.

It is so easy to become dissatisfied with the local church. So easy to become disillusioned with the group as a whole of with certain individuals or with some policy or direction or especially with the pastor. So easy to go for the divorce instead of struggling on someone else’s behalf.

We constantly make Christianity about all the ancillary details and ignore the big picture.

We are in good company when we indulge in that behavior. Jesus said of the Pharisees, “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24).

Being “Knit together in AGAPE,” is so important I cannot really stress it too much.

Our impulse is to pull away from people we don’t completely agree with or who are not our “Cup of Tea,” but we Jesus commands us to Agapê one another.

What binds us together is our conformity to His Truth, but every one of us is far less than 100% conformed – that means we are fighting and hating over degrees.

If I care about your immortal soul as I should I must warn, exhort, encourage you to stay the course with… us. Come alongside Alêtheia and you will be encouraged.

People will say NO, NO, NO! I’m supposed to stay the course with Jesus and Jesus alone… to which I say, EXACTLY, that’s what I’m saying. You stay with Jesus by being unified with His other fallible, imperfect, but ever-striving disciples.

SLIDE: FINAL PURPOSE: BLUE CHRIST HIMSELF

Paul’s ultimate or final purpose is them, “Attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

The ultimate purpose in encouraged hearts and being knit together in love is CHRIST HIMSELF… Jesus IS everything.

SLIDE: FULL ASSURANCE OF UNDERSTANDING

Everything we’ve looked at is about information leading to knowledge, leading to acceptance, leading to wisdom, leading to maturity, leading to love, and leading to heart encouragement – i.e. steadfast, faithful certainty.

So, here we have the possession of “Full assurance.” Can you imagine how great that is?

Surrounded by trouble and pain and disaster and doubt and crime and death, death, death and in the face of that you are absolutely 100% CERTAIN.

It is πληροφορία (plā-rŏ-fŏ-rē-ä) a compound word meaning both full and certain so “Full assurance” isn’t a bad translation. It means concrete certitude…

SLIDE: AERODYNAMICS & LIFT

Paper flying experiment with Newton’s Third Law and Bernoulli’s Principle.

It is possible that you or someone else was not as certain as I was about the outcome of the experiment. The lack of certitude is directly proportional to a lack of knowledge about physics and specifically aerodynamics.

I was absolutely 100% certain that increased dynamic pressure above the paper would result in decreased static pressure and cause the paper to rise. I was certain because I have spent a lot of time studying, experiencing and accepting the “Wisdom and knowledge” of physics and so have a “Full assurance of understanding” of aerodynamics.

How would you like to be that certain about your salvation and eternal relationship with God? That’s what we are talking about.

SLIDE: FULL ASSURANCE OF UNDERSTANDING

It is the same here… the attaining or possessing of “Full assurance,” which is called “All the wealth,” comes from “UNDERSTANDING.”

“Understanding” of the relationship between God and yourself results in “A true knowledge of God’s mystery.”

To a reasonable and ever increasing extent, I understand God, I understand myself and I understand the Gospel Message.

Through that, I understand my relationship with God and that is God’s mystery demystified to me – I get it – I get what was so hidden to me before and what is currently so hidden to others now.

SLIDE: TRUE KNOWLEDGE ~~~ CHRIST

What is the mystery? It IS Jesus Christ. It is Christ Himself. That is the focus of these verses… Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, the sin offering for the entire creation, crucified, resurrected, ascended and returning.

It is in Him that all the treasures of this world, all that has any real value, all that has any significant meaning is to be found.

The Greeks loved special secret information… (1 Corinthians 1:22) Many people still do to this day. They love conspiracy theories… Jet contrails are chemtrails, there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll, and Fluoride in the water supply makes Americans submissive.

People love to be “in the know,” always wanting to have information that someone else lacks so they can be noticed, appreciated and acknowledged as they share their secret or withhold it from the undeserving.

Bible codes, secret orders and clandestine groups are all the rage. It was the peddlers of that kind of thing, which the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, was worried about.

God was saying, look, ALL you need to know – the totality of, “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” is in Jesus and Jesus alone!

There is no special code that must be broken,
no mystical puzzle to decipher and
no hidden message that must be decrypted.

The EVERYTHING is Christ… Know Him and you know everything necessary to be CERTAIN about your relationship with God.

You will see the truth of that relationship by the Holy Spirit dwelling in you and you will recognize the Holy Spirit in you by your relationship with others.

How you treat others, especially how you treat fellow Christians is indicative of, and proportional to, your relationship with God.

You cannot say, “‘I love God,’ and [hate your] brother.” If you do you are a liar according to the Bible because, “One who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).

Jesus said to the people carrying on His work, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Why is the measure of your love for God, your depth of faith and your Christian maturity your love exhibited towards other people?

Note, not towards God, not towards animals, your dog or your cat or the dolphins, not your love for religious ceremony, ritual and tradition, not your love for the mountains or the rivers or the ocean… it is defined by your love for other human beings.

Why?

Any human being can love those things or pretend to love those things – none of that requires Christ in you.

The true test of Christ in you is conforming to His character – it is selfless behavior towards that which resists, or struggles against or even hates you.

Humanity rejected God and what was His reaction to that betrayal? His reaction was to send Himself to us as a Savior in the weakness of human form.

When you can truly love others by meeting their needs at your own personal expense, God is at work.

When God is at work within us, it proves that we have embraced the true knowledge, which is Christ Himself.

SLIDE: IN WHOM ALL

It is in Him that we possess “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

We are true acceptors and so know with certainty that we have been eternally accepted.

We can then allow our human fear to be overtaken by God’s love and we can allow ourselves to be “Knit together in love” and through the Body our “Hearts may be encouraged.”

SLIDE: ALETHEIA IS TRUTH

121513 - Colossians 1d - Creator Jesus
Clean
December 16, 2013 08:59 PM PST
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Colossians 1:16&17, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 1d ~ 121513

SLIDE: WELCOME

SLIDE: P 46 OPENING COLOSSIANS 1:16…

Last week I talked about the vastness of the universe and especially the scientific understanding of early cosmology and I want to clarify…

It is a serious mistake to dismiss scientific discovery for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that when we do we are arbitrarily selective.

We happily use an automobile, computer and cell phone, but dismiss the Big bang, quantum physics and evolution. We must be selective, but we should not be selective without a systematic approach.

How can Christians make the best use of science without allowing science to mislead us? How can we be appropriately selective?

I spent the entire sermon last week expounding the idea that the God’s Word, to include the Bible, is His revelation to us.

As such, it is Truth. Science is, by definition, a human endeavor. As such, it, unlike the Bible and Biblical Christianity is fallible. It is as fallible as the human beings who are involved.

The simple answer and the way we systematically and correctly use and understand science is through that filter.

We must take scientific theory with a bit of skepticism just as any good scientist does, but also like a good scientist use the best understanding currently available.

The only real difference is that we Christians must reject human ideas and fallible interpretations when they conflict with what the Bible actually teaches (we should make a distinction between what the Bible teaches and what we extrapolate fro that).

A part of science is hundreds of millions of experiments over thousands of years conducted by some of the most intelligent people in history diligently studying the data observed and rendering logical conclusions. We can use that with the caveat that the understanding 1) cannot contradict God’s Truth and 2) is subject to further exploration.

The other part of science is a dogmatic religion of atheism that we must not allow to infiltrate Christianity.

The Big bang that I talked about is a scientific idea that is well tested and understood. We can use, as I did, the part of the theory that conforms to the Bible while dismissing the part that does not.

God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” My point was that even the most atheistic scientist would have to agree that 1) the light made the matter knowable and 2) that light came before the sun.

I hope that helps, and as always, if you have questions or want further clarification, I’m available to you, so don’t be shy.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 1:16 ~ 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

Sometimes it is helpful to break a phrase down to understand it better. Let’s look at the descriptor portion of a phrase separately for a moment…

SLIDE: ALL THINGS & THE DESCRIPTOR

The white section describes in specific detail the general concept of “All Things.”

In Greek, “All Things,” is τὰ πάντα (tä pän-tä) and it brackets the white section perfectly. We move “All things,” to make better English, but originally the verse starts off, “Because in Him were created… “All things.”

SLIDE: THE ALL IN THE CORRECT PLACE

In addition, not really “all things,” but actually “The ALL.” It emphasizes the totality of all, as in, everything individually and severally – nothing has ever been created that is not covered. That, all by itself, means that Jesus was not born or created (to be born is just another means of creation in this sense).

Since this construction also brackets it therefore highlights the specific descriptor I have in white.

The descriptor itself comes in two parts…

SLIDE: CHIASTIC X STRUCTURE REVEALED

The first section is a chiasm. The phrase, “Things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,” is chiasticly constructed like an “X” pattern (hence the name from the Greek letter chi).

The outside words, heaven and invisible, go together as do the center words, earth and visible.

Structuring it this way does three things I want to discuss further.

1) It is a mnemonic device aiding in Scripture memorization.

2) It adds emphasis – the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul want there to be no question about what “All” means.

3) It takes two terms, “Heaven and invisible,” and binds them to each other like a hendiadys to give a single meaning…

So, instead of things in heaven as a category and then things invisible as a separate category, it becomes all that is in the invisible heavenly realm… ALL that is spiritual, metaphysical, supernatural and immaterial.

“Earth and visible,” likewise, become one to indicate ALL that is non-spiritual, physical, natural and material.

Taken together it truly is ALL. What was implied by τὰ πάντα, “The ALL,” bracketing the descriptor is made explicit by the chiasm.

Well that’s not good enough for Paul… In those days most people could easily accept a “lessor deity” being responsible for the “Earth and visible” part, but could not have accepted a “lessor deity” being responsible for the “Heaven and invisible” part.

So, Paul emphasizes and drives home that side of the equation to prove that Jesus is NO “lessor deity!”

He goes straight into these next four descriptors that all combine to paint a picture of the totality of supernatural force, power and authority to make things happen metaphysically with an eye to what happens physically.

People struggle with the meaning of these four words. Is it human power and authority, is it demonic power and authority, is it angelic power and authority or is it some combination.

It is none and it is all. The words combine to describe a reality where the ultimate concern is what happens to people… what is manifested on earth and what will happen to us eternally… that is the concern.

However, all of that has its origin in the supernatural – those angelic, demonic, and unknown spiritual forces that influence and direct the affairs of man.

What Paul is emphasizing is that every demon and every angel and any other force visible or invisible is merely part of the creation.

There is nothing outside of the Creator Himself, that is not a construct of His… created by Him and for His purposes and completely under His control. Jesus is Creator, NOT creature…

SLIDE: IN + THROUGH + FOR

Now, we tackle the actual point of the elaborate description of “THE ALL.”

There are three concepts about Jesus relative to creation and each is a simple preposition.

1) “THE ALL,” was created IN Him – all Greek prepositions can be thought of as breathing movement into ideas – I like to think of them as words showing motion whether they give movement spatially or temporally or spiritually etc.

The preposition here is ἐν (ĕn), and it is always stationary in its movement – it is still. It has the movement of unmoving position. It absolutely means, IN, with no motion at all.

“THE ALL” was created “IN” Jesus. Well what does that mean?

Here’s the best analogy I could think of…

Let’s say you want to build your dream house – you’re the owner and you have gathered together the resources to bring to fruition your wish, will and desire for a very specific home. You are analogous to the Father.

Your first step is hiring an architect. The architect is going to work closely with you to take your wish, will, desire, and BREATHE LIFE into it as a workable design. Yes, I want a window over here. No, I don’t want a wall there. The architect molds the dream into an actionable plan.

That’s analogous to the Holy Spirit.

Once you and the architect have everything all figured out, you place the plan IN the builder. It is now IN his hands, but more than that it is in His mind – He understands it and He works diligently to bring it to life physically as the architect designed it from your will.

Once again, we see that ALL of creation whether visible or invisible is IN Jesus… Jesus is not IN creation. He is not a part of creation, creation had its genesis IN Him – it is a part of Him the totality of it all seen and unseen, not the other way around.

Jesus cannot possibly be created Himself – I don’t know how much clearer it could be. It is so sad to see so many people choosing to be so deceived today.

There are so many people who refuse to accept Jesus as God made flesh like the entirety of Islam, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Unitarians, the Christian Scientists who are neither Christians or scientists, a huge variety of Church of God denominations, the Oneness Pentecostals and the Unification Church to name a few.

These folks are just like the false teachers affecting the Colossian church 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul was shouting Jesus is the one and only way of salvation!

He is God manifested – He makes God visible – He is the uncreated Creator and it is right to put your full confidence and trust in Him and Him alone!

It is human nature to hedge the bet, but having even a tiny fraction of your hope tied up in angels or Mary or the saints or your dead relatives or a medium or your horoscope or some great teacher, preacher or “Spiritual Advisor” or the Pope or your own effort is blasphemous.

The way of salvation is to put 100% of your faith and trust in Jesus and Jesus alone. To do so is exactly synonymous or identical or the same as putting the entirety of your trust in Almighty God your Creator!

2) “THE ALL,” was created THROUGH Him

This preposition translated as through in the NASB is διά (dē-ä). It always indicates a motion through something or someone.

It can be spatial like, a bullet passing through a paper target. It can be temporal like, America made it through the 60’s or, as here, it can be instrumental like, a pilot flying an airplane through the autopilot.

God created THROUGH the active agency or intermediate cause or mediation of Jesus.

The creation was placed IN Him and came out THROUGH Him.

3) “THE ALL,” was created FOR Him

This final preposition is εἰς (ās), which is usually translated as “into.” It describes movement into someone or something again spatially or temporally, but also, as here, to establish a goal or purpose, result or effect.

It does that by giving the sense that there was this travel along a specific path to a specific destination… it was in order to get INTO the spot so the focus becomes the reason.

The creation is in a sense traveling toward that destination which is Jesus.

Taken in that context it is movement UNTO Jesus, which gives the sense that creation is FOR Jesus as the goal, purpose, result and effect. This is a good translation of all three prepositions in this case. Some translations leave something to be desired especially in their treatment of the first one.

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 1:17 ~ 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

This picture represents a Helium atom… it is 2 electrons, 2 protons each made of a pair of up quarks and a down quark plus 2 neutrons each made up of a pair of down quarks and an up quark.

How big is an atom in real life? We all readily understand the length of a yard – think of a regular yardstick or the length of my foot times three or approximately triple the length of the paper outline you have. Cut the yard into 10 billion equal parts and you have the size.

Another way to think of it is we could take atoms and stack them one on top of the other building a tower of atoms. One atom then two then three and all we want to do is build a flagpole of individual atoms as tall as the thickness of your paper outline – just one sheet of paper thick. How many atoms do we need? 5, 10, 100? Very carefully, we need to stack up 900,000 atoms to equal the thickness of a sheet of 24-pound copy paper. Almost a million atoms within the edge of paper.

SLIDE: ZOOM ON ATOM

Almost all matter is made up of atoms and although they are extremely small at a 10 billionth of a meter, they are themselves made up of even smaller particles.

If we expanded our atom one trillion times bigger, it would cover a football field, and the entire nucleus (all those quarks in the light blue middle of our diagram – not to scale and not actually light blue) would be the size of a small pea or a kernel of corn sitting on the 50-yard line. The electrons would be too small to see and they would be whizzing around in the end zones. Almost the entire atom is empty space.

Atoms combine to make molecules; molecules make organelles, which make cells, which make tissues, which make organs and then organ systems and finally an organism like you and me.

A reductionist atheistic scientist would say that’s all you are is a collection of atoms, which we’ve already seen are mostly empty space. Everything you are is just up and down quarks orbited by electrons.

Yet, how can that possibly explain life – how can it explain personality and memory and emotion… how can it explain consciousness and sentience? How can a reductionist explain emergent aspects where the whole is so much more than the sum of the parts?

Quantum Chromodynamics and the electro-weak force hold atoms together and while those forces are measurable, they are not explainable. We can understand the effects, but no one can say why the forces exist.

In fact, no one can explain why the universe is as it is instead of something else. No one can explain where the universe came from.

It came from the will of the Father and the blueprint of the Spirit and the agency of Jesus. It all holds together by the Word of God.

Jesus holds the universe together all the way down to the sub-atomic level and therefore it is obvious that He had to BE (pure existence) before all things not just as the creator but also as the sustainer.

God did not wind up the universe and let it go on its merry way like some massive toy car…

God is intimately and intently involved in His creation to a level so small we cannot even grasp it and then out to a level so large we cannot grasp it as we saw last week.

Electrons and quarks all the way through galaxies, local galactic groups, superclusters etc.

God is that big.

SLIDE: WORLD

Paul’s point is that the Jesus, who was crucified in Jerusalem, is that big as well. He is God made flesh and so you can completely trust in Him for your full salvation.

120813 - Colossians 1c - God Revealed
Clean
December 10, 2013 08:37 AM PST
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Colossians 1:15, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 1c ~ 120813

SLIDE: WELCOME

SLIDE: P 46 OPENING COLOSSIANS 1

God the Father snatched us from the mire of evil… and transferred to the solid rock of Jesus…

How has God the Father accomplished this rescue and transfer? He paid the price.

Because the kidnapper/owner/jailer was SIN, the price was sinlessness – the price was Jesus. Through Him the price is paid enabling the “Forgiveness of Sins.”

Paul now expands this Truth by focusing on the one, “In whom we have redemption.”

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 1:15-20 ~ 15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Wow! Just to be fair, we are not going to get through all these verses today.

I wanted to read the passage as a whole for two reasons, first, because it is so great and so symmetrical. Jesus is the exalted One of both creation and the redemption of creation.

Secondly, because it encompasses the use of the term “Firstborn” twice.

SLIDE: FIRSTBORN TWICE…

Jesus is the, “Firstborn” in verses 15 and 18. Each use informs the other and we will discuss that at some length.

Before we go there though…

SLIDE: The Son is the image of the…

In the beginning, before anything at all had been created there already eternally existed the WORD, and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1).

I’ve been trying to set this up for the past month… the Word of God, IS the physical manifestation of the one true almighty God, Creator of the Universe.

What is the Bible at its most fundamental level? It is God – revealed – to us. We are currently physical and so it is a physical manifestation of God and therefore is the WORD of God. The Logos, the Message, the coherent Word of Truth, the “IMAGE” is “The exact representation of” God.

Hebrews 1:1-3, states it this way, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets…

In many portions and in many ways…

In these last days has spoken to us in His Son…

Whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…

And upholds all things by the word of His power.

When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

We start with the concept that Jesus “Is the image of the invisible God.”

God, the Creator, is “INVISIBLE.” That is to say that, He is unapproachable and completely unknowable to us. Let’s get real for a moment. What can you or anyone make God do, how can you or I reach Him and where will any of us go in order to find Him?

The space probe Voyager 1 took a picture of earth, referred to as the “Pale Blue Dot” that is very famous… Carl Sagan and Louie Giglio used the image extensively (for very different goals). We have a new photo taken recently by the Cassini Spacecraft.

SLIDE: SATURN & THE PALE BLUE DOT

The Cassini spacecraft, just outside Saturn’s orbit took this amazing picture of the ringed planet.

Isn’t it cool? Isn’t it beautiful? What’s even more fun, is the camera also captured earth in the background. Do you see it?

SLIDE: SATURN & AN ORANGE ARROW

Let me help, there we are… do you see you? “I can see my house from here.”

SLIDE: ZOOM! SATURN & THE PALE BLUE DOT

Let’s zoom in… This is where you are currently sitting.

This is from a distance that is only about a fifth of the way to the edge of our tiny little “planetary” solar system.

I say “planetary” solar system because it is actually much larger than the inner part where planets and now former-planets orbit the sun.

An astronomical unit is the distance from the sun to the earth (roughly 93 million miles). Earth then is one A.U. from the sun. Saturn is a distance of 10 A.U. from the sun and Pluto is 40 A.U. away.

Imagine the surface of the sun at the left edge of the screen and Pluto in red at the right edge. The width of the screen is one-half the distance of the planetary part of our solar system. The Earth is that close to the sun relative to Pluto and you can see Saturn in gold. This is what we look like from just outside Saturn’s orbit.

SLIDE: MILKY WAY
Our whole solar system is too small to even be seen in this partial view of our galaxy. Our sun is just one star of about 200 Billion stars in our tiny little Milky Way Galaxy. The next star closest to us is Alpha Centauri C approximately 270,000 Astronomical Units or times the distance to the sun or travel 93 million miles, 270,000 times.

That’s just the next star in our night’s sky. A tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way and our galaxy is one little galaxy out of 500 billion galaxies in our universe.

SLIDE: VIRGO SUPERCLUSTER

The Milky Way is part of a local group of Galaxies and our Local Galactic Group is part of the Virgo Supercluster of galactic groups.

SLIDE: OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE

Our local supercluster of galaxies includes the Virgo Supercluster. Our galaxy is too small to see in the view of our Local Superclusters.

Now, within the “Observable” universe even the our huge Local Supercluster of superclusters of galaxies like our Virgo Supercluster can hardly be distinguished in the mass of 500 billion galaxies.

All of this resting in the palm of God’s hand – all of this created by Him through willing it into existence through His Word.

Now, here is my question and the point of this exercise…

What could you – no, what could all of us – the total energy of the entire 7 billion people-strong human race – what could we all, in unison, do to impact, influence or effect God?

How can we, living on that “Pale blue dot”; that “Mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam,” ever know anything about God?

God truly is, “INVISIBLE,” to us.

SLIDE: The Son is the image of the…

Unless He chooses to make Himself known. The “Invisible God” has done precisely that, He has made Himself known through His Word.

Image is εἰκών (ā-kōn), from which we get “icon.” Iconic means that which embodies, symbolizes and represents the truest essence of a thing.

I spent a fair amount of time in Turkey. The money there is the Lira (Euro notwithstanding), and all the Turkish Lira bears the portrait of Ataturk, to tear, deface or dishonor the money is a crime.

The picture is a representation of their great hero and to dishonor the picture is to dishonor him and all that he stood for and accomplished.

This is the same idea held by the Romans in the time of this letter. The εἰκών, or image, on a Roman coin symbolized and represented the emperor. The average person did not (and never would) see the emperor, but they knew him from his image.

Jesus is the image of the unknowable God in that way – He makes God known. He represents and symbolizes God.

God has made Himself known to us by physically manifesting Himself through creation and through the prophets of old and through the inspiration of the Apostles, but most significantly through Jesus – the Message of God made flesh (John 1:14).

God spoke to us through Jesus, through Whom He made the world… “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.”

Radiance is another way to describe this concept. It is ἀπαύγασμα (äp-ow-gäs-mä), best translated as effulgence.

Effulgence is not merely a reflection of a thing; it is essential to that thing… the radiation from our sun in the form of heat and light are part of the sun’s effulgence. Without the effulgence the sun wouldn’t be the same… yet the sun would still be there.

We can distinguish between the effulgence and the star itself yet neither would be the same without the other.

The sun could be in its place without the effulgence, but we would never know it was there… it would be “INVISIBLE” to us. We couldn’t know anything about the sun without its effulgence to make it known to us.

Scientifically speaking, there was a time when nothing existed and then somehow, “In the Beginning,” a mass of matter almost infinitely compressed came into existence along with a place to occupy.

That massive point of matter, as heavy as the present universe, but perhaps small enough to fit in the palm of YOUR hand, contained “The earth.” The earth, of course, was not in planetary form, but the matter of earth was scattered in that mass which itself was contained in the new fabric of space or in “The heavens.”

The coalesced matter was pitch black – nothing but darkness – if you looked at it back then you would see nothing, it was “INVISIBLE.” Then it exploded with an almost unimaginable energy expanding outward stretching space-time.

The Big Bang was so extreme, so hot, that nothing could bind together. Every fundamental subatomic particle was on its own and while at that moment photons were created they could not exist long enough to shine as light.

Every photon was almost instantaneously absorbed by matter before they could produce electromagnetic waves and therefore light.

Technically, light was created, but there was no observable light – the universe was opaque. If you looked at it back then, it was unknowable because it was dark – it was essentially “INVISIBLE.”

At a certain point in the expansion, the universe cooled enough for nuclei to trap electrons in atoms.

In that instant the photons were free to travel and instantly there was light and the light was separated from the darkness. The universe flipped from opaque to transparent. The light illuminated the matter and made it visible – it made it knowable…

Genesis 1:1-5 ~ 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

Incidentally, people ridicule the Bible because God created light and separated it from the dark on day one, but didn’t create the sun until day four. Light was created as soon as the big bang and it was separated from the darkness when atoms formed for the first time… Stars came much later. Every scientist worth a hoot knows that light existed long before the sun.

My real point is as the release of photons made the universe transparent and knowable; Jesus made God transparent and knowable by embodying Him in physical form.

As it says in John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

The term so frequently translated as “Only begotten,” is μονογενής (mŏ-nŏ-gĕ-nās). It is correctly translated when applied to humans, but the Apostle John uses a technical theological meaning when applied to Jesus.

It means one and only or unique and it refers to Jesus’ special status and relationship with regard to creation. It has nothing to do with being born or being created.

This is a nice transition into the terminology used in our Colossians passage, “The Firstborn.”

SLIDE: BABY BLUE EYES

Is this right? Was the Word of God really God’s baby – Does God have a wife and therefore the Word have a mom? Is His mom Mary, or is she Eve, or both; is the Word the spirit-son of Eve and Jesus the human-son of Mary?

The whole thing is so ridiculous it drives me crazy. How can people be so myopic – how can we have such a limited view?

He is called, “The Son,” “The Firstborn over all creation,” and “The Firstborn from among the dead,” in the space of four verses. I suppose it requires a bit of explanation.

I brought up the μονογενής from John’s Gospel and said it had nothing to do with being born or created and it is the same with these terms, “Son” and “Firstborn.”

The Logos or Word of God is God’s son as in that which emanates from God with the same essence and character. Further, the Word is the Father’s son specifically because the Father is the wish, will and desire of God. God desires an emanation from Himself to create and the reveal and to restore… that desire is the Father’s desire. The Word is carrying out that desire as a son in that sense and in the sense of being a dutiful son.

Beyond that, the Word of God took on flesh and dwelt among us as fully God and as fully human, the “Son of Man,” as Jesus referred to Himself.

While Jesus can be understood as the, “Son,” or as the μονογενής or even as the “Firstborn,” in every case it is pointing to His priority and His position.

Firstborn is the word πρωτότοκος (prō-tŏ-tŏ-kŏs), the proto part means first, but not necessarily first in time – it often means first in priority.

While πρωτότοκος is well translated in regards to a human being, it, like μονογενής, is a technical theological word when applied to Jesus.

In Psalm 89:27 God said, “I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

You can’t “Make” someone “The firstborn” if it is only a literal word…

Here you can see that, as the two uses are brought together showing the supremacy and priority of Jesus over all creation and over all restoration.

Jesus is first in the original creation and first in salvation as He and He alone defeated death and paves the way for us to defeat it as well.

That’s verse 15, and it and all the other verses have to do with the absolute majesty and glory of Jesus Who IS God manifested to us.

He has explained God and we can pray that the Holy Spirit will make that more real to us because “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

Recognize the size and power and greatness of God – recognize the size and power and weakness of man. Realize that God is Love and that three things are required for reconciliation. The willingness of the party of the first part… that’s God and He was willing. A means or occasion to reconcile… that’s Jesus and “It is finished.” the final ingredient is the acceptance by the party of the second part… that’s you.

120113 - Colossians 1b - Saved
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December 02, 2013 08:51 PM PST
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Colossians 1:13&14, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Colossians 1b ~ 120113 ~ Pastor Scott Keller

SLIDE: WELCOME

SLIDE: P 46 OPENING COLOSSIANS 1

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 1:9b-12a VERSES

Last week we finished the spectacular 12-verse opening of the letter where Paul concluded with the idea that through understanding God and His salvation…

1) We can, “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”

2) We can begin, “To please Him in all respects.”

3) We can bear, “Fruit in every good work.”

Then, because of all that…

4) We will then continue, “Increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might.”

Now, to what end, or for what purpose?

“For the attaining of… 1) all steadfastness and patience… which leads us to… 2) joyously giving thanks to the Father… what is the basis?... He has qualified US to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”

We covered it last week so I won’t belabor the point, but I just want to say, once again, that with God, it is always substance then response.

First, it is the substance… God’s love, His past activity, His future promise, His Truth and His principles. Often in circles of rhetorical thought.

Then comes the response, “What are you going to do with that reality, with those facts and ultimately with God’s Truth?” “What does it mean to you – really, HOW much does it mean to you?”

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 1:5a&12b VERSES

Paul started with their salvation and eternal relationship through God’s grace clearly seen in verse 5… He ends with it in verse 12.

In the middle, he makes the point that because of God’s goodness they should respond.

“What does that mean to you – how does that affect your perspective?” Answers to those questions are meaningless unless there is activity.

God is not passive – He DOES, our response cannot be passive either – we must DO!

The PROOF is IN the pudding. Christian activity flows from Christian essence or being… BE Christian… and you will mature, not the other way around.

What we have been talking about, and what we are going to talk about, is infinitely better than all the 400 class bulls on the planet. Better than all the Cat-Griz games ever played, all the money and success in the world and even all the combined happiness of every human alive… all of that is temporary – all of that pales in comparison to this…

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 1:13&14 VERSES ~ 13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

If we truly understood, where we were and where we were going, and then truly believed these two verses, nothing would ever stop us from full devotion to God… regardless of the price.

I just love the way Paul puts things together. The Father has rescued us from WHAT, not from where we were. He has transferred us to WHAT, not to where we are… We ARE the kingdom of the Father’s beloved Son… IN WHOM we have redemption… the forgiveness of sins.

It is so cool. Let’s start with this…

SLIDE: domain of darkness

First, “domain of darkness” is an idiom badly translated here. The default position of translators is to see this as a place or location, In other words, “Hell.”

It is because they see “The Kingdom,” as the place called “Heaven.” It is literally, the ἐξουσία (ex-ü-sē-ä) POWER of σκότος (skŏ-tŏs) DARK. The true idea is the POWER or AUTHORITY of darkness and with that understanding, “Domain,” or “Dominion,” are okay, but potentially misleading.

However, the “Rescue” is NOT from a place, it is from a mode of operation, a way of existing, a state of being, a type of essence, and especially from an INFLUENCE.

The “darkness” is equivalent to all evil internal and external, human and demonic.

It is like the Lord’s Prayer… “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). That “evil” is the totality of all that stands opposed to God’s Will – everything from human desire to the battle plan of Satan.

In that Matthew verse, translators are torn on whether it should be “Evil,” or “The Evil One.” It is because it is both and so much more!

When they arrested Jesus, He said, “The power of darkness is yours” (Luke 22:53). It is the same phrase. The forces of evil are YOU! As Walt Kelly said, “We have met the enemy, and he is US!”

Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

To paraphrase Richard Trench, “Our world system can be likened to an immoral atmosphere, which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale spewing it back out upon everyone else.”

Juvenal, the Roman contemporary of Paul, complained that the “The Syrian Orontes has long since flowed into the Tiber.” Meaning, the culture of the Syrians has flowed into and altered the culture of Rome.

The culture of atheistic Humanism has permeated the Judeo-Christian culture of America to the point where it is considered a Hate Crime to preach the foundational truths of the Bible.

The grip of evil is everywhere around us and while we could say, “The Devil made me do it,” the truth is he only “made” us do what we wanted to do all along. That’s the “Domain of Darkness.”

That’s the mire we were stuck in and that is so eloquently described by Paul in his letter to the Romans, where he describes a war raging in him between good and evil, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

Paul’s question is answered right here in Colossians 1:13… God the Father will set you free from, “The Evil.”

SLIDE: RESCUED

Rescued is ῥύομαι (rhü-ŏ-mī), and it is a very rarely used word with a special meaning I hope you will enjoy as much as I do.

It means to drag someone from a place of danger to yourself. This particular word emphasizes the perspective of the Rescuer instead of the one rescued. God rescued you for a purpose… for His purpose. He did not rescue you just to get you out of trouble, but to get you into His company, which is confirmed in the next phrase.

SLIDE: transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son

To complete the transaction and thereby accomplish the goal of rJu>omai, the rescue we are transferred from the evil to the good… to God’s family.

The “Kingdom of His beloved Son,” is a way of identifying the new status comparative to the old status.

It is why translators go with the idea of “Domain of darkness.” One could say that Paul was comparing the place called the Kingdom of Satan with the opposite place called the Kingdom of Jesus.

It is far too literal. The “Kingdom of His beloved Son,” or Kingdom of Jesus is the Body of Christ and is NOT a place, so much as a SPHERE of INFLUENCE.

That’s the point of comparison. God has TRANSFERRED us from the Sphere of evil – the life of bondage to self-interest into the Sphere of Good – the life of freedom to live as a Christian for God and others.

William Hendriksen, in his commentary states it this way… He brought us out of the dark and dismal realm of false ideas and chimerical ideals into the sun-bathed land of clear knowledge and realistic expectation; out of the bewildering sphere of perverted cravings and selfish hankerings into the blissful realm of holy yearnings and glorious self-denials; out of the miserable dungeon of intolerable bonds and heart-rending cries into the magnificent palace of glorious liberty and joyful songs.

There is a common understanding of a “now, not yet” view of salvation… we are saved now, but not yet fully saved. Sometimes we express it as two very distinct events… salvation and glorification.

If we stop and think about it, we see that those ideas are from our perspective, based upon our human experience. What has actually happened, is that before God created the universe, He had already finally saved, or if you prefer, “Glorified,” those who are His children.

From God’s ETERNAL perspective it is a done deal; “It is finished.” From our perspective, we need to catch up to these things in time.

SLIDE: in whom we have redemption

Redemption is from the Latin Redemptio meaning to buy back as in to pay a ransom.

It is the translation of the Greek word here, ἀπολύτρωσις (ä-pŏ-lü-trō-sĭs), meaning a paid release. It is to free a kidnapped person by paying the ransom. It is to buy a slave’s freedom by paying the owner the asking price. It is to secure a hostage’s release by meeting the criminal’s demands.

In every case, it is to free a person from bondage, by paying the price of their freedom.

Our freedom was our rescue from the sphere of evil and our transfer to the sphere of God. It was accomplished by God paying the PRICE that was required!

The price was Jesus; it is IN HIM, and only IN HIM, that we have our release. The Father rescued us and transferred us by paying with the blood of His beloved Son. That’s the cost of release.

What was paid for precisely – what was the thing that demanded that cost?

As an example, PETA takes a hostage and demands the price of a billion dollars from the McDonald’s Corporation. The money is the price, but the underlying motivation is to harm a company that sells so much meat.

In our present case, the price was Jesus, because the underlying issue was SIN. Redemption is the “Forgiveness of Sins.”

SLIDE: the forgiveness of sins

Sin is a weird religious word that most people don’t really understand. It is ἁμαρτία (hä-mär-tē-ä). It means to miss as in shooting at a target and missing the bullseye. You’ve no doubt heard people say that, to sin, is to “Miss the mark.” I find that incredibly disingenuous, because there is a sense that you’re aiming at the target.

The target is God’s design and perfect will for your life and sinning is missing that path, so sinning is to live in accordance with your will, rather than God’s will.

That is intentional, not a mistake. That is to miss the bullseye because you were aiming in the opposite direction! Aiming at the bullseye and missing is a mistake, not a crime. Aiming in the opposite direction is a crime, not a mistake.

Sin is not about thinking, speaking and doing the wrong things or failing to think, speak and do the right things.

That erroneous idea actually comes from the Bible. Under the Law, Jews had rules to either obey or disobey. We mistakenly think those things apply to us. We mistakenly think that the 10 Commandments are our commandments to keep. (My disclaimer: It is fine to display the Commandments – don’t anyone freak out… Yet).

We, as Holy Spirit filled Christians, are under a much greater standard. Jesus demonstrated that in His Sermon on the Mount. We are obliged, not to simply refrain from adultery, we are obligated to submit to our husband and to love our wife as Christ loved the church.

The most comprehensive way to understand sin is to recognize it as serving your desire as opposed to God’s desire.

God’s desire for you may coincide at times with your own desire, but often these wills are at odds. When our will wins, we sin (we were NOT aiming at the target). When we choose to deny our impulses, desires and lusts that are opposed to God’s will everyone wins, including us (maybe not in the short-term but…).

I have heard people say that they have gone for days, weeks, months or even years without sinning and I know people who believe that living sinlessly is possible. What I say, is if you think that, you just need to expand your definition of sin (a more honest assessment of yourself will help as well).

If someone’s definition was the literal physical keeping of the 10 Commandments we might live sinlessly, but when we recognize the fullest sense, we realize we can’t even get through this church service without some kind of self-serving, God-diminishing thought, word or deed.

The redemption price was Jesus because He was the only one ever capable of sinlessness. He had to choose to pay the price. If He had chosen to forgo the Cross He would have been putting His own interest ahead of God’s interest, which would have constituted a sin, and He would no longer have been adequate.

In these two amazing verses, Paul has summarized salvation in a tremendously beautiful way and will now elaborate on salvation for the next 9 verses.

We will go through this a little further next week, but for now, I just want these words to hit you with all the information we’ve just discussed fresh in your mind…

SLIDE: COLOSSIANS 1:15-23 ~ 15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

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