Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Give it all to Jesus - Colossians 3:1-14

Colossians 3:1  "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."

Colossians 3 is an amazing chapter in God's Word. Paul is beginning to practically layout everything he doctrinally unfolded in Colossians 1-2 about the main theme of his letter: "Jesus is enough". We know Paul is talking about the Lordship of Jesus Christ based upon Colossians 3:1  "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." Other cross references in Paul's letters indicate that when Christ is referred to as "seated at the right hand of God", Christ's supremacy or Lordship is in view. (Romans 14:9; Philippians 2:9-11) 

Point of application: As we explore Colossians 3:1-14 today, we will be centering around the following main point of application: Submitting to Christ's Lordship means giving it all to Jesus. So what exactly are you and I to give to Jesus Christ as we aim to surrender to His Lordship? Notice first of all....

Give your priorities to Jesus. 3:1-4
From the beginning of the believer's new birth in saving faith, Jesus Christ is both Savior and Lord. (Romans 10:9) The way in which we live our lives ought to demonstrate our submission to Christ's Lordship.  Such manner of living is seen in how we prioritize our lives. Setting priorities is associated early on in the New Testament with Jesus Christ's Lordship. In explaining what is meant by His Lordship, Jesus explains in Luke 14:25-33 that in following Him, one must calculate the cost. Such calculation includes the realm of one's priorities. As Paul writes in Colossians 3:2 "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." 

The mind is the place where the battlefield of the Christian life is won or loss.  Whoever is the general on the battlefield will determine who wins the battle. Oftentimes when we attempt to be that general, things breakdown. Scripture tells us that with regards to our mind, we must surrender all things important (i.e our priorities) to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)  

If we are to submit ourselves to Christ's Lordship, we must begin in the realm of our priorities. Paul plainly tells us that when we were born again in saving faith, we died to our old way of life. (Colossians 3:3). Simply put, we are not our own any longer, but we have been bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Christians are to continue to submit themselves in the realm of their priorities until Jesus comes. (Colossians 3:4) As a matter of fact, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:15 "and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." Thus as you and I aim to "give it all to Jesus", we do so by giving Him our priorities, but notice secondly....

Give your behavior to Jesus. Colossians 3:5-7
Submitting to Christ's Lordship means giving it all to Jesus. True Godly living must begin with the heart, being that from the heart flows the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23) We begin with the priorities, and now we consider the fruit of those priorities: our behaviors. 

The scriptures repeatedly urges the disciple of Jesus Christ to demonstrate their submission to Christ's Lordship by aggressively rejecting the "old way of life" and putting on "the new way of life" in Jesus Christ. Romans 6:12-14 states: "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace."  Certainly we are to be aggressive when it comes to our drives; 1 Corinthians 6:18 states plainly - "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body." The will of God for every Christian is sexual purity, as seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality."

The language used by Paul in Colossians 3:5-7 is that of "putting to death" the following things: immorality or unlawful sexual activity,  impurity or moral uncleanliness, unlawful passions, evil desire and greed or excess. The outcome of all these behaviors is replacing one's desire for God with a consuming desire for created things - which is idolatry. 

So you and I must give our priorities and behavior to Christ's Lordship. But notice another area...

Give your speech to Jesus. Colossians 3:8-11  
As we noted already, submitting to Christ's Lordship means giving it all to Jesus. When you give your priorities to Him, that necessarily leads to what ought to be a change in behavior. The scripture reveals that the overflow of the heart and behavior is manifested in the words we say. As Jesus Himself states that from the heart can proceed all kinds of evil things. (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21) James tells us that the ability to control one's tongue is a sign of genuine and worthwhile religion. (James 1:26-27) Ephesians 4:31 states: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." 

As we read down through Colossians 3:8, why such the emphasis on the realm of our speech?  In times of pressure we discover very quickly the level to which we have surrendered to Christ's Lordship. Thus one's morality has to do with how they use their words as wells as how much they govern their drives. We know for example that out of control anger can never work forth the righteousness of God. (James 1:20). As anger escalates in our words, the heat of wrath accompanies it, followed by malice or the intent to hurt and then spreading lies about that person to other people. Scripture tells us to be aware of letting a root of bitterness sprouting up within us, lest we defile many. (Hebrews 12:15) 

The tongue is spoken of in scripture as containing the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). Is it no wonder Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:10 "For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days,Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit." In times of pressure we discover very quickly the level to which we have surrendered to Christ's Lordship. So as we noted already, submitting to Christ's Lordship means giving it all to Jesus: your priorities, your behavior, your speech and then finally....

Give your relationships to Jesus. Colossians 3:8, 12-14
Paul writes in Colossians 3:9 to "not lie to one another". Then we read two more "one another" (also called reciprocal commands, because we 'reciprocate' the action) commands in 3:13, namely "bearing with one another" and "forgiving one another". The former instructions of "putting off" and "putting on" affects not just our personal spiritual well-being, but also others around us. 

Colossians 3:12-13 speaks of the believer's own practical righteousness and then Colossians 3:14 states: "Beyond all these things....". Now here is the question: what could be "beyond" what Paul just wrote in Colossians 3:12-13. To even "bear with one another" or "forgive one another" is a pretty tall order. The love being spoken of here is not just mere human love, or even the love of Christians, but the love of God that can only be supplied by the seamless robe of Christ's righteousness. Only His righteousness can be deemed that "perfect bond" of unity. We ever rely upon His power, His Person, His grace to fulfill God's commands to us. (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 3:7-9).  
When we individually have resolved to submit to Christ's Lordship, that attitude becomes a sweet expression in a local church body or group of saints. Christ's Lordship is everything in the Christian life, being that we are in effect saying: Jesus is enough! Jesus is all I need! I surrender all to Him!

Closing thoughts:
We have aimed today to communicate the need to "give it all to Jesus", which is another way of saying "surrender everything to Jesus' Lordship". Our main point of application was: submitting to Christ's Lordship means giving it all to Jesus. So what does it look like when you are giving it all to Jesus? We discovered four key points: give your priorities, give your behavior, give your speech and give your relationships to Jesus Christ. When we do these four things, we can honestly say then that we are giving it all to Jesus Christ and submitting under His Lordship in our life as His followers. 

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