Bowman Community Church
Lord's Day 8-15-21
- Blessed Be Your Name
- Come Now Is The Time To Worship
- Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (Nettleton)
- Cling To Christ
- Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me
1 Thessalonians 4:1–8ESV
- IntroductionLike every great communicator, Paul, the author of Colossians, begins a section of teaching by laying out a dramatic summary of his points. In four verses, he puts forth a dramatic proposition for us to consider. We listened to these verses, and were reminded of the death every believer experiences — the death of our previous earthly life in the flesh. This is the transformation of the Gospel, where a rotten earthy rebel dies and a heavenly saint now lives. The believer is raised with Christ, and can now seek the things that are above. What’s being described here is the difference inside of us from before we were saved and after. When Jesus saves us, he raises us, secures us, and makes it possible for us to seek him.It was only four verses, but contained in the four verses is what the entirety of lives are supposed to be spent on. Think about it, those four verses address what should happen from the moment we take our first spiritual breath as a Christian, to the moment we breath our last on Earth, and into eternity, where we appear with Christ in his glory. Col 3:1-4 is our life mission statement.Our being raised, mentioned in verse 1, is what happens when we realize the depth of our sin and cast ourselves on Jesus — he raises us. And look at verses 2 through 4: verse 2 is a single, universal instruction for our entire life — seek the things above, not the things below. Verse 3 tells us we are a new creation, a different thing. If we belong to Jesus, something stayed under water when we were baptized. When we were saved, we died. Verse 4 is the hope we have that makes it possible to endure this life. And this verse is huge because it tells us two magnificent truths: 1) that Jesus is our life right now, and 2) he will be our life when the world ends, on that day.These are heavy truths, aren’t they? Our mind understands their truth, but our hearts grow weary and our flesh is ever lusting for the evils of this world. We wage a great war now, because we are fighting for Jesus. Make no mistake: introverts, extroverts, educated and uneducated; we are all fighting this battle. Christ himself said, “in this world you [all of you who follow me] will have tribulation, but take heart: I have overcome the world.” Paul, the most represented Apostle in the New Testament, said:For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.Tension is too small a word to describe what this internal, spiritual battle is like. With our mouths we confess Jesus Christ is Lord, and then we go and sin. We experience moments of bliss and wonder that we know God, and then we sin. We wash ourselves with the promises of God and the beauty of his word, and then we sin. We make commitments to things and people of this world, and then we betray them. Put in the most brutal but honest way: the blood of Jesus saved us and washed us, and then we go and spend it on our passions.I say to you now that the words of Paul that pierced him must also pierce us:Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?We face a terrible challenge in life. At times we can feel the waves of utter failure wash over us and threaten to take us out to sea. But this Lord’s Day is not dedicated to failure but to victory. For Jesus has overcome the world, and has made in us a new creation — a new self. And God, by his Spirit, has empowered us to put this new self on, every day, until he comes to deliver us into heaven, when the end of the world comes. The message of my sermon today is this: we will only die to self and resist sin when we are alive to Christ and live for him. Let’s pray and ask for help as we read about the life-changing truths that God holds out to us this very moment.PrayerTextIf then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.I. The Old SelfWe will only die to self and resist sin when we are alive to Christ and live for him. This is the extreme belief that Paul had, the belief he was teaching to the church of the Colossians, and it must be the belief that we hold today. For it is the only belief available to those who know Jesus Christ; who know the gravity of his sacrifice and the fullness of joy that is found in him. The Christian life is not a punishing existence of self-denial — it is a life blessed beyond all imagining that results in radical self-denial. When we taste heaven, we lose our appetite for earth.But it’s because we do not fully taste heaven that we continue to have an affair with the earth. This is where Col 3 picks up. Paul says if we’ve been saved by Jesus, we must seek him. He’s saying, “live for the one who saved you.”Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.Paul is telling us to yield our entire lives to Jesus, and in order to do this he makes examples of two specific areas: the sexual and the relational. You can see how the two are naturally connected. You can also see how the two are universal in scope and apply to every single person. The sexual and relational realm are, in my opinion, the most dangerous and dreadful. By God’s grace, murder is not humanity’s highest volume sin. Sexual and relational sin has wrecked havoc across nations and generations. The perversion of God’s great gift of sex drives men and women to barbarity, as it has since the beginning.Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.Paul says this in verse 6:On account of these the wrath of God is coming.This is a blade that must always cut us to the core. God forbid us from ever warming ourselves by the fire of lust. God forbid us from ever seeking fulfillment from the mistress of sexual immorality. The sad irony is that we settle for rotten fruit because we have not tasted the sweetness of knowing Jesus. Have you noticed how verses 12 to 17 respond to verses 5 to 11? Where Paul says to put these things to death, he then says:Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,The key is here, not simply the putting off of something, but the putting on of another. Our sexual and relational sin is to be executed by the power of Jesus and to be replaced with his power. Where we are weak to lust, Christ is strong to faithfulness. Where we are weak to the temptations of anger and malice, Christ is stronger in his compassion and kindness.This is the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. Because we have a new heart, we want to seek the things above, where Jesus is, and as verse 10 says,and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.It’s when we are sold on Christ’s riches that we stop buying the world’s refuse. We are emotional and relational creatures, being made in the image of God. Before we were saved, our emotions and relationships were fundamentally corrupted. But, because we’ve been raised with Christ, we can, and now must, put them away. We don’t put them away because we don’t desire them any longer; we put them away because we know and desire Christ so much more.✝We have put off the old self with its ignorant practices because the new self knows what the good stuff is. We know the peace of forgiveness and the joy of true love. The sins of the old self are washed away, and their being forgiven becomes the fuel for the believer’s fire. We see what Jesus saved us from and are motivated to change. Not from duty, only, but because we love him. We love him more than we love ourselves.✝When we are alive to Christ, we know the truth behind Ps 16:11.You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.We know in our mind where the good stuff is, but act like we don’t. This is, I think, is why Paul sets lying apart from the rest of the list. Look at v. 9:Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practicesWe are fundamentally lying to each other and to ourselves when we act like our old self. We know where the best things are, but struggle to want them, because we know little about them. We will fight this battle against the flesh to the grave; but, God declares to us now that he has made a way for us to win.II. The New SelfPut on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.Every single word of these sentences should break upon us like an ocean pouring into a raging volcano. Where the fires of lust rage, the waters of God’s choosing us out of darkness, making us holy and setting his love upon us, will extinguish them. This ocean does not only have the power to put them out, but this ocean of forgiveness swallows the debt of sin. Before God chose us, we stoked the fires of sin. We chose that which we knew was wrong because we wanted it — and knew nothing better.The key is in the third, fourth, and fifth words of verse 12. Look, “as God’s chosen ones.” It would take thousands of years-worth of preaching to even begin exploring what this means. I’m reminded of one of the greatest chapters in our Bible, Romans 8. In this chapter we read some of the greatest words in our Bible, in verses 31 and 32:What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?I wish I could live every second of my life wrapped in what God is saying here. I, who treasured sexual immorality, lying, and lived an angry and malicious life, was saved by God. I was chosen by the Everlasting Holy God. Where I treasured myself and my desires, God treasured his only Son. God treasured the one through whom and for whom he made the world. Where I clung greedily to idolatry, God did not spare his own Son, and gave him up for me.And for you. And for all who cast their broken souls at the foot of the Cross. For everyone who despairs of themselves and the constant sensation of failure and brokenness. If God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not freely give us all things? This promise for all who have reached the end of themselves, and abandon their earthly lives.✝ (vv. 5-7, our failures)Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.We are all equal in our nakedness and exposure before the Holy One. We are, also, all equal in status in Christ. Where the first brings despair and slavery, the second brings hope and freedom. The Gospel is for all people — Greek, Jew, white, black, publically pure, and the privately wicked: the Gospel calls to you now! In the family God, there are only the forgiven. Would you, this day, lay hold of this great forgiveness?✝In the family of God, there is, as verse 13:bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.This is how the “knowledge of our creator” renews us. Putting on Christ’s compassion means putting off our anger and wrath; putting on Christ’s kindness and humility means putting off our malice and slander; putting on the new self, which is Christ’s power in us, is the source of any life change in the believer. Again, we might ask, “how in the world can I do this?!”And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.Put plainly, the knowledge of our creator that Paul talks about is simply loving Jesus. The power to change is not in us, it’s in him. The specific behaviors that are referred to here are all ranked below one thing: love.And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.Do you see? The love we walk in; the love that we put on, above all else, is the love that we see modeled in Christ. It’s self-denial; the sacrifice of one’s life for another. And in this there is greater example than Christ and the Cross on which he gave his life for us. In it we also see how to better love one another.3. Life After Death: WorshipAs Christ died, and was raised, so are we raised with him. We talked about this a lot last week, and how baptism is such a beautiful picture of this personal resurrection every believer experiences. This is life after death, in one sense. But so is every day spent dying to ourselves; we are constantly dying because we are constantly living to Jesus.God, who is himself the paradigm of beauty and artistry, demonstrates his divine artistry in this way. He saves his people from the darkness of death through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He then bestows the privilege of partaking in a kind of death like Christ’s upon those who love him.For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.We have a new life to live before us, Christians. We have the ability to forgive one another, even the bitterest of enemies. When Paul refers to barbarians, Scythians, and Greeks, he is making a hugely controversial statement. These groups saw each other as grossly different and disgusting, but Paul is saying that these distinctions no longer exist if your life has been hid with Christ, in God (Col 3:3). Many sermons could be preached on the ramifications of this verse, alone, but that will have to wait for another time. We have yet one more thing to consider today.Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.One thing stands above all others as the most important part of putting on the new self; over and over, Scripture tells, in countless different and clear ways; the one thing that can bring true happiness and conformity to Christ’s will for our lives is this: worship.I closed my sermon last week mentioning that we had talked a lot about the truth of our salvation and the new self we have before us to put on, but not necessarily how to do that — or what it looks like, specifically. What does it look like? Well, now I attempt to make good on my promise by closing today’s sermon with an answer. In order to put on the new self, you must make the radical commitment to worship the God who loved and chose you.✝Paul explains what this looks like for unimaginative folk. Verses 12 through 17 are Paul taking the truth of verses 1-4, and turning it like a prism through a ray of light. In verse 12 and 13 we have a difference of character; verse 14 is the motive for all of it; verse 15 is the submission to Christ required for Christian unity; each of these a different perspective.But the ones that stand out as imminently practical and immediately applicable to our lives, perhaps even this very day, are verses 16 and 17. And these verses are all about worship. The word of Christ in v. 16 is the word of God, the Bible, that is read every Lord’s Day with the people of God. It is the word of God that lies available for opening and searching at any time, and it is the word that is supposed to dwell richly in us. Spurgeon once said, “there is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your finger.” I fear this is true of us today, as well. The word of God is supposed to dwell richly in me, and if I consider only myself, I despair immediately. But it’s when I look at Christ, and when you look at Christ, that we are reminded of the truth: he is far better. He deserves my worship; O, how he deserves my worship. Now give me my Bible!The teaching and admonishing of one another is done on every Lord’s Day, according to the word of Christ, and is surrounded by the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God. It’s not just church on Sunday that’s viewed here, it’s a lifestyle that is dedicated to worshipping God every day. This has always been God’s call for his people.Think about it: every time Moses went to Pharoah, thousands of years before Colossians was written, he spoke for God saying: “Let my people go, that they may serve me.” God was delivering his people from captivity so that they would worship God.I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.All along, throughout history, God’s greatest and most important command for humanity has been to direct its worship towards him. From thousands of years before Jesus to thousands of years after his coming, the call is the same. All of God’s people before Jesus were saved by and looked forward to him. All of God’s people after Jesus were saved in the same way, and look upwards toward him, in every endeavor.And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.How do I put on the new self? How do I die to self and resist sin? By looking to Jesus, putting on the new self he’s given us, and living for him.✝
- Praise The Name Of Jesus
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