Dishman Baptist Church
Don't Be Fooled Again Pt 1
      • Colossians 3:11CSB

  • Because He Lives
  • Lord I Lift Your Name On High
  • Open The Eyes Of My Heart
  • Introduction

    The Struggle Is Real

    Colossians 2:1; 1 Timothy 6:12; Philippians 1:30; 2 Timothy 4:7; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Corinthians 11:1
    Paul starts off saying “For I want you to know” tying his next thoughts to everything that has come before. Paul builds on what he has just said about laboring in the Word. He writes that he is struggling for the Colossians, for the Laodiceans and for all those who he had not ministered to face to face.
    This is the Greek word agon from which we get our English word agony.
    It is also the name of the location where the Greeks would assemble for their Olympic games - where they would struggle and fight against one another in foot races and wrestling matches.
    Paul is saying that he is literally in agony for the Colossians as well as all Christians that he had never met. The idea of a physical struggle in connection with the Christian life was prominent in Paul’s writings. Writing to his young protege Timothy, Paul tells him
    1 Timothy 6:12 CSB
    Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
    He would write the church in Philippi
    Philippians 1:30 CSB
    since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.
    And at the end of his ministry he would again write Timothy
    2 Timothy 4:7 CSB
    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
    Each of those verses contain the same word - agon - for struggle that Paul uses in our text today. It would seem that the concept behind agon is much different from our modern conception of agony. My wife will tell you that when I get sick it is pure agony around the house because I’m pretty well useless - I just don’t function that well when I am ill. But here Paul demonstrates that being in agony means, as Vines Expository Dictionary defines it, to engage in intense struggle, involving physical or non-physical force against strong opposition.
    With the exception of Epaphras, Philemon and Onesimus Paul had never met any of these believers (as far as we know) and yet here he says that he is literally in agony for them. When I think of this I think of the agony of a woman in childbirth. Now I’ve never experienced it personally but I’ve heard the pain in childbirth is awful - but the struggle, the pain experienced is for a purpose, the healthy delivery of a baby. Paul is saying that he is a deep struggle for these believers.
    There is a special fraternity that we should all feel for believers around the world.
    Do we agonize over the situation that many of our brothers and sisters find themselves in?
    In North Korea nearly 50,000 Christians languish in work camps known as Kwan-li-so’s. One woman’s story is chronicled on OpenDoorsUSA’s website. She no longer has a name - she is referred to as Prisoner 42. She “lives” in a box that is barely big enough for her to lie down in. When she arrived at the prison they stripped her of her name, her clothes and shaved her whole body. Every day they interrogate her as to whether or not she is a Christian. Do we agonize for her?
    Or the woman in another southeast Asian country who was threatened by her husband that he would kill her because she converted to Christianity. Do we agonize for her?
    What about those who are inside the church and are mistreated at the hands of “pastors”. Our reaction to the stories coming from Houston but really from all across the country are agonizing us right now - but what about those in other nations? Like the congregation in South Africa who’s “pastor” told them that if they ate grass they would be closer to God? Or the congregation in Brazil who’s leader - I can’t even dignify him with the name pastor - who did such unspeakable things that I can’t even find a way to tell you about them this morning. Do we agonize for them?
    And the question is - how? How did Paul agonize over these believers? Like I said earlier we sometimes think of agony almost as a paralyzing condition - where we do a lot of fretting and hand-wringing but really feel powerless to do much else. I can tell you with a fair degree of confidence that the Apostle Paul was not sitting in his house or cell in Rome simply fretting about the condition of the Colossians or the other churches that he mentioned. Paul was a man of action and even limited as he was he took the action available to him - he prayed.
    Paul recognized the significant fact that the struggle for the Colossians was not a physical one but a spiritual one and so it needed a spiritual solution.
    To the Ephesian church he would write the wonderful passage regarding our spiritual armor and spiritual warfare. He began that passage saying
    Ephesians 6:12 CSB
    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.
    To the Corinthians he would write
    2 Corinthians 10:3–5 CSB
    For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
    Thirty five times in his letters Paul mentions prayer and he frequently refers to the power of prayer. He mentions it in every letter except Galatians and 2 Timothy. He often will tell the churches that he is writing to that he is praying for them - for their knowledge, maturity and spiritual growth. In Colossians he will write that Epaphras is “always wrestling for you in his prayers” - the word for wrestling is agonizomai or the verb form of agon the same word Paul used for struggle in our verses this morning.
    Paul encouraged the recipients of his letters to imitate him as he imitates Christ.
    1 Corinthians 11:1 CSB
    Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.
    Even now Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for us. Paul doesn’t merely sit and fret about the situation in Colossae and other cities in which churches had been planted. He accesses the only power that can effectively bring about relief or change in those areas where attacks were happening. Even as Paul imitated Christ, we should imitate Paul.
    There is a power in our prayers to influence God to move in ways that are beyond our understanding.
    Now it’s not as if God is sitting in Heaven waiting for us to pray to alert Him or so that He can move. A good illustration of this is the story of Peter in Acts 12. After martyring James for the faith, Herod had Peter arrested and intended to bring him out and put on trial. Peter was sleeping in his cell when he was awakened by an angel and led out through the locked prison gates and set free. When he arrived at Mary’s home the believers were all inside praying - the text doesn’t tell us exactly what they were praying for but I think in context it is safe to assume they were praying for Peter’s release. God wasn’t just sitting around in Heaven and had heard through these believer’s prayers that Peter was in jail and needed releasing but their prayers on his behalf seem to play some role in influencing God to move on his behalf.
    Prayer is kind of like the laser guidance system that is employed to guide in munitions. We can see the whole landscape from satellites and so we know there are buildings there and that activities may be taking place inside those buildings. But it takes a special operator - a Navy SEAL or Army Ranger - to go in on the ground and target a specific building with a laser that guides in our weapons on target. That soldier or sailor doesn’t have the power that the weapons do, he doesn’t have the ability to release the weapons. All he can do is to highlight the building or target and wait for the power to arrive.
    When we pray we are not alerting God to the need for His power or apprising Him of a situation - we are merely highlighting a situation and waiting for Him to release His power into correcting it. This is how we can struggle like Paul did for believers we don’t know now and may never know this side of Heaven.
    We have to be, like Paul was, a praying people.

    Nothing Is Hidden

    Colossians 2:2-3; Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 53:1; Matthew 12:34-35; James 3:6; Ephesians 3:16;
    We are a results oriented people. We don’t often take on a task or struggle without at least some sort of an idea about what we want to accomplish. Paul is going to explain to the Colossians what his struggle is for and what his expected or hoped for outcome will be. He says that his desire is that their hearts are encouraged and that they would be joined together in love.
    His first desire was that they would be encouraged - this is the Greek word parakaleo and it literally means to come alongside or to call alongside. It can have many different meanings but in this context, because the Colossian believers were being beset by false teachers, the best translation is to strengthen. Commentator William Barclay wrote about it this way “There was a Greek regiment which had lost heart and was utterly dejected. The general sent a leader to talk to it to such purpose that courage was reborn and a body of dispirited men became fit again for heroic action.” A more modern (a least sort of modern) example of this might be the example set at the First Battle of Bull Run during the Civil War. The Confederate brigade of General Bernard Bee was being driven off the hills and streaming toward the rear when he looked up and seeing General Thomas Jackson and his brigade made the now famous pronouncement “There stands Jackson like a stonewall. Rally behind the Virginians!” His troops rallied and the tide of the battle swung.
    This is what parakaleo means here.
    It is Paul’s prayer that the Church may be filled with that courage which can cope with any situation.
    Paul specifically says that it is his desire that their hearts would be encouraged. We are freshly on the other side of a holiday that is all about the hearts of individuals - and the modern idea that our heart is the seat of our emotions but it was not so in the days when Paul was writing. He is not trying to influence the emotions of the Colossians but instead is referring to the inner man, the very center of their life.
    The heart is a synonym for the mind.
    Scripture consistently warns of the dangers of the heart - or of a heart left unchecked.
    Jeremiah 17:9 CSB
    The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?
    Psalm 53:1 CSB
    The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt, and they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good.
    Each of these verses refer to the mind where thinking takes place rather than to the seat of emotions.
    In the New Testament Christ said
    Matthew 12:34–35 CSB
    Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good person produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil person produces evil things from his storeroom of evil.
    While we can be guilty of speaking from emotions it is more often that what is in our minds drive not only our emotions but our words. And this can be a dangerous thing.
    James 3:6 CSB
    And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
    But how do we develop the strength that Paul is referring to here? Paul provides that answer in his letter to the Ephesians
    Ephesians 3:16 CSB
    I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit,
    The Spirit - the parakletos - is the source and developer of strength in the believer. He is promised as a Counselor by Christ in John 14:16. He comes alongside the believer as an encourager and a trainer to help develop Christians into the image of Christ.
    His training methods are two fold -
    The first is the Word of God brought into the life of the believer.
    As we study and learn the Bible more the stronger we develop in our faith and our knowledge of what Christ desires from us. The stronger we become in our faith the more encouraged and assured we are that what we believe is actually right.
    The second is other believers.
    But He also uses other Christians in our lives to strengthen us. This is the importance of discipleship relationships in the building of the church. Jesus told Peter that after he had been sifted and tried that when he turned back he was to “strengthen his brothers”. Acts tells us of Paul’s journeys and that one of his motivations was to “travel through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches”. This is an important part of our ministry as a church - to come alongside one another and to strengthen one another in our faith.
    I just received a packet in the mail introducing an evangelistic campaign called “Who’s Your One”. It basically boils down to each person in the church identifying one person in your life to pray for and then seek ways to introduce that person to Christ. The idea is to “mobilize every Southern Baptist to identify one person in his or her relational network to pray for and share the Gospel with in 2019” - and that is an awesome task and challenge. But I’m going to challenge you to take it one step further - I’m going to ask each of you to identify two people. One outside the church that you can be sharing the Gospel with and one inside the church that you can be helping to grow further in their faith. Who can you identify to meet with regularly - to encourage in their heart - for the specific purpose of seeing spiritual growth happen in their lives? We have tools and resources available to you - you don’t have to develop your own plan but who can you identify?
    Who Are Your Two?
    One:
    Two:
    The underlying motivation for this is the love we share as believers for one another. Paul says that his desire for the Colossians is that they would be joined together in love. This is the Greek word agape and we understand it to mean the universal, unconditional love that is given to us by God and that we can demonstrate towards one another. But the phrase here is more than just the love that we have for one another - it is the idea that that love actually knits us together (the way it is translated in the NASB) into a beautiful tapestry. Much like a beautiful quilt that is sewn together we are being joined together into the body of Christ.
    All to often, however, it is disunity that we are known for. This was a constant concern for the Apostle Paul and it was on display in nearly every church that he planted to one degree or another. It continues to be so today as we look across the landscape of Christianity and the view would seem to be very divided. We seem to be far from the prayer that Christ offered in the Garden on our behalf
    John 17:20–23 CSB
    “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.
    Commenting on this verse Francis Schaeffer said this:
    Colossians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary United in Love

    In John 13 the point was that, if an individual Christian does not show love toward other true Christians, the world has a right to judge that he is not a Christian. Here [in John 17:21] Jesus is stating something else which is much more cutting, much more profound: We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.

    In his writings Paul again and again admonished the churches to have a unified mind - to be joined together in love -
    Philippians 1:27 CSB
    Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel,
    Ephesians 4:1–4 CSB
    Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—
    This isn’t speaking to the emotional aspect of love but to the physical manifestation that bears itself out in self-sacrifice for the benefit of another.
    Not the emotional aspect of love but the self-sacrifice for the benefit of another.
    It is this demonstration of humility that brings Christians together in love and demonstrates to the world that Christianity is true and that there is no secret code that needs to be broken to understand the fullness of God’s mystery.
    Paul seems to say in this next statement that there is a part that we play in helping others to understand completely the mystery of God revealed in the person of and salvation provided by Christ.
    This has practical application in the life of the believer. Sunesis or understanding has to do with the applying of biblical truth to everyday life. Only a spiritually regenerated person is capable of doing this because Scripture tells us that unbelievers are dead in their trespasses, with their minds darkened and incapable of pleasing God. But when a Christian demonstrates a spiritual life by living it out they are growing in their own assurance that their salvation is true.
    It also has an impact on our witness to the world as well. It is through our encouragement and love for one another that we can understand this because it is the love of Christ borne out in our lives and demonstrated for one another that is the most manifest view of what Christ has done.
    To take a person who was entirely selfish and turn them into a self-sacrificing individual who looks out for the benefit and growth of others is the physical witness of a saved and changed life that loudly proclaims the effects of the Gospel in someone’s life.
    To take a person who was entirely selfish and turn them into a self-sacrificing individual who looks out for the benefit and growth of others is the physical witness of a saved and changed life that loudly proclaims the effects of the Gospel in someone’s life.
    Now this is not to give anyone an out for witnessing verbally - while we are to visibly demonstrate the effects of the Gospel through a changed life - we still have the responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to those we come into contact with because it is in Christ that all hidden mysteries become known.
    This is a direct assault on the false teachings that were besieging the Colossians and it is a direct assault on many of the mindsets that are plaguing us as well. The false teachers were trying to tell the Colossians that there was a higher secret knowledge that was necessary for true belief and faith to take place but Paul here says “No - sorry fellas but all hidden knowledge is made clear in Christ”. There is no higher knowledge necessary than to know Him. There are no other categories of information beyond wisdom and knowledge. No matter how reasonable they may make their philosophies sound there is no more information needed and no other source of salvation outside of Christ.

    Don’t Be Fooled Again

    Colossians 2:4-5;
    And they do make their ideas sound plausible don’t they? And the danger in our day and age is that if you don’t buy into their philosophies and ideas then they will just marginalize or browbeat you into submission. We live in a time where there are many ideas and arguments that are vying for our belief.
    There are actually people who believe that the matrix is real and that we’re all part of some big computer simulation - that none of this is real.
    According to National Geographic there are 6.5 million Americans who believe the earth is flat.
    We are being assaulted with the idea that inside the womb is just a bunch of cells but outside the womb it is a baby.
    That gender is fluid but sex is biological - at least it used to be. It changes so fast you can’t really keep up. Evolution is true and the earth is 96, I mean 108, I mean 350 billion years old - that number changes frequently too.
    And it is our kids that are at risk. Every year more and more kids graduate high school and walk right out of the church’s doors - often never to return. It is fitting that we are having this sermon on family worship Sunday and that we are exploring the development of our growth focus group in our Ministry Leadership Team meeting because it is critical that we find ways to counteract the false truths and philosophies that we are being bombarded with outside those doors. And Paul would say - I’ve already given you the answer just apply it.
    He says no matter how plausible their arguments sound - if you know Christ and you are being encouraged in your heart and knit together with one another in love you don’t have to buy in to anything they’re selling. That is why Christ is preached on a regular basis from this pulpit - because it is in Him that all truth, wisdom and knowledge reside. We don’t have to be fooled by anything they’re saying because we know the truth.
    Spurgeon said this
    2,200 Quotations from the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon: Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People Preaching

    1083The sermon which does not lead to Christ, or of which Jesus Christ is not the top and the bottom, is a sort of sermon that will make the devils in hell laugh, but might make the angels of God weep.

    It is in our familiarity and knowledge of Christ and His Word that we find the ability to not be deceived by their arguments. That is why Paul wrote the entire first chapter of this book and then told the Colossians of his desire for them - so that they would know Christ and have been exposed to His fulness and beauty and truth. So that they would understand the source of their encouragement and love for one another. So that Paul could now say that even though he was absent from them that he could rejoice because he was with them in spirit through his prayers for them and the reports of their strength that he had received from Epaphras. But it is also why he was writing to remind them of these things - so that they wouldn’t be deceived.
    As Peter wrote to the churches in 2 Peter 1:12
    2 Peter 1:12–15 CSB
    Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you now have. I think it is right, as long as I am in this bodily tent, to wake you up with a reminder, since I know that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has indeed made clear to me. And I will also make every effort so that you are able to recall these things at any time after my departure.
    I will constantly trumpet the same story - the same truths - so that you will not be deceived and so that I can rejoice in your strength and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Conclusion

      • 1 Timothy 6:12CSB

      • Philippians 1:30CSB

      • 2 Timothy 4:7CSB

      • Ephesians 6:12CSB

      • 2 Corinthians 10:3–5CSB

      • 1 Corinthians 11:1CSB

      • Jeremiah 17:9CSB

      • Psalm 53:1CSB

      • Matthew 12:34–35CSB

      • James 3:6CSB

      • Ephesians 3:16CSB

      • John 17:20–23CSB

      • Philippians 1:27CSB

      • Ephesians 4:1–4CSB

      • 2 Peter 1:12–15CSB

  • Amazing Grace
      • 1 Thessalonians 5:23CSB

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