Incorporating Christ’s Work for Us Into Our Lives
I — Text (Stand to Read): Colossians 2:8-16a
“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were ‘circumcised,’ but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. So don’t let anyone condemn you…”
II — What’s Really Keeping Us from Living As Christ Commands Us to Live?
- (Illustration) Lieutenant Speirs & Private Blithe (Band of Brothers video clip)
III — Theme:
In today’s text, Paul is calling the Church to recognize the miracle works that Jesus Christ has done for her, and to incorporate those works into her everyday living as though they actually belong to her. Furthermore, if the Church does not recognize that reality about herself, the following things are likely to happen because of her fallen state and the fallen world in which she lives:
- We’re easily captured/captivated by the philosophies of this world, which is not our home (Colossians 2:8)
- This causes us to be preoccupied with ourselves, so we don’t live with the resolute urgency of a “soldier of Christ,” (per 2 Tim. 2:4) regarding our own or others’ eternal salvation
- Later, when difficulties come, and we’re forced to take stock of our lives, we may tend to condemn ourselves because we feel we haven’t done enough for God to continue to love us….
….(because we recognize the first two things we just mentioned as being true of how we’ve lived)
IV — Why Do We So Easily Slip Into Living In the “False Reality” We’ve Mentioned?
- One answer to this question touches on why you’re here this morning—for that matter, why you come to church at all. To tweak John Piper’s quote about why Christian Missions exists, when he says that, “Missions exists because the worship of God doesn’t;” we will say of Paul’s exhortation to the Colossian Church, and to us this morning, “Preaching the truth about who we are in Christ exists because so often, worship in our hearts for that same Christ doesn’t.”
- And herein lies a primary answer to why we so often live according to a false reality—because we either don’t realize what our actual reality is, and/or we need to be reminded of it every single day! And that’s what we see happening here in these verses this morning….
….Paul is reminding Christians of their true reality so that they will live according to that, and not according to their own false perceptions & hopes
- Private Blithe was living according to his own perception & hope of himself and the world around him. He still had hope that this world would be a place in which he could live peacefully, with little trouble…so much so, that when trouble surrounded him, his fear of not having the kind of life he hoped for caused him to be afraid of losing it, and therefore he hid, and didn’t do what he was supposed to do as an enlisted soldier
- Paul speaks to this very directly in an analogy in 2 Timothy 2:3-4 — “Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.”
- What Paul says here is the same idea he’s conveying in Colossians 2:8….
….when he encourages the Church to not be taken captive by the world’s way of thinking, because ideally it is to be Christ who informs our thinking
- Does Lieutenant Speirs’ counsel to Private Blithe sound anything like what Paul and Jesus constantly remind us to do, if we’re going to live peace-filled, productive lives for the sake of Christ, our Commander?
- Yes! “The sooner you accept the fact that you’re already dead, the sooner you’re gonna be able to function as a soldier’s supposed to—all war depends on [that fact].” How many times do we hear the exhortation to “die to ourselves” in Scripture? That is what it looks like—dying to our own version of what our lives should look like so that we can live as God wants us to live! And all of this so that we will find our deepest joy and peace—that which we simply not have unless we learn to live in this manner!
- There’s another reason we live according to a false reality (the subtitle of today’s message)….
….The Christian faith is to be lived out as if we are at war with the forces of darkness (Paul even contrasts the forces of this world with those of Christ in verse 8, and this “at war” mindset is also his thrust in Ephesians 6); therefore, if that’s true, we, like Private Blithe would much rather curl up in the safety and relative comfort of our ditch, as it were, than potentially sacrifice our money, our time, our emotions, perhaps even our lives. Of course we know those things are the right things to do, but since we still consider ourselves as alive to this world and its comforts, we’re “captured” by it, instead of fighting with all we have to save it.
- So, coming back to our text, recognizing & accepting the fact that we’re already dead to this world (“buried with Christ,” v. 12) is not the only definition of the reality in which we’re to live; there is the reason behind why we are even able to be encouraged to reckon ourselves as dead to this world & instead alive to God:
- You see, we’re supposed to actually incorporate into our reality, in real time, the truth of what Jesus has accomplished for us, every single minute of every single day; which, if we do, guarantees us that our lives will be fruitful for the kingdom of God, which, in turn, means that our lives will be filled with the deep peace and joy that so many of us wonder if we’ll ever find. So if these things are true, then what does our next question have to be? What does the text tell us Jesus actually accomplished for us?
V — Incorporating the Text Into Our Lives:
- Let’s look at what Paul says Jesus has done and that we, therefore must incorporate into our lives as the reality of who we are:
- (v. 10) As Christians, we are “complete through our union with Christ..” which means that God sees us as He sees Jesus Christ—absolutely perfect—even though….
….we are still functionally sinners. A huge implication of this reality for us is this: If as believers we question God’s love for us—even on account of our ongoing, indwelling sin—then we question His love for His Son, Jesus, whose identity we assume now, when we believe
- (v. 11) Christ cut away our sinful nature. This means that, where once our sinfulness ruled over us, now the Spirit of God within us rules over us, to move us towards the things of God from a deep place in our hearts, and to convict us of allowing our sinful natures to rule where they have no authority any longer
- (v. 12) Our old sinful nature was buried with Christ, and then our new selves were raised to the same new life as Him, in the symbolism of baptism (which is one of the many reasons baptism is so important)
- (v. 13) Because Jesus Christ has lived the life we were supposed to live….
….and died the death we were supposed to die, due to our sinfulness, God is able and willing to forgive us of every one of our sins, which takes us out of our dead spiritual state and makes us “alive again” in Christ’s perfection
- (v. 14) The Law of God, which we were supposed to fulfill, is no longer hanging over our heads, because Jesus fulfilled it for us—it “died” with Him on the Cross
- (v. 15) Christ’s death “disarmed” and humiliated the spiritual powers of this world, because it meant that those who trust in His death for their sake are no longer under the power of those dark powers. “Disarmed” here means “To completely strip of power..” “To utterly separate from something it was attached to..” (We would all do well to incorporate this reality into our thinking as well)
- What would our everyday lives look like if we could incorporate these actual, true aspects of our reality into our everyday lives? Wow!
VI — Discussion:
- What kind of life-changing inspiration do you or can you receive from a story like Lieutenant Speirs & Private Blithe?
- Look at the three things (from the theme) that result if we don’t incorporate Christ’s reality as our own. Are those true for you now? Have they been true in the past? Could/did incorporating Christ’s reality as your own help you to live more enthusiastically for Him?
- What are some of the things of this world that are currently keeping you from living as an “active soldier of Christ” should live?