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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly" -- Colossians 3:12-17

The Eighth in a Series of Sermons on Colossians

Nothing feels better after working out or finishing a grimy project than to take a shower and escape out of our sweaty or dirty clothes.  This image is not far from what Paul has in mind in Colossians 3:10, when he speaks of the Christian life as putting off the “old self” (what we were in Adam–enslaved to the flesh) and the putting on of a “new self” (what we are in Christ–dead to sin, but alive to God).  As Paul explains, those who trust in Jesus and are united to him through faith, will die to certain conduct (sexual immorality and covetousness–which Paul calls idolatry), and will “put away” other sinful conduct, such as wrath, anger, slander, and lying.  These behaviors characterize the old self and its practices.  But all those united to Jesus Christ have put on a new self, so their conduct as Christians grows out of the renewal of the divine image within us (which results from regeneration).  It is this new behavior, characteristic of the new self, which Paul continues to describe in Colossians 3:12-17, our text.

We are resuming our series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians, one of Paul’s “prison letters,” identified as such because they were written during that time when Paul was under house arrest in Rome, awaiting his appearance before Caesar Nero.  The Colossian church had been founded several years earlier in the Lycus Valley of Asia Minor.  One of the pastors from the Colossian church (Epaphras) made his way to Rome to seek advice from the apostle about a serious new challenge to the churches in the region–the so-called “Colossian Heresy.”  From what we can glean from Paul’s response, this heresy was a mixture of Judaism and paganism.  Adherents worshiped angels, sought visions, and practiced a rigorous form of asceticism grounded in obedience to the law of Moses.

The letter to the Colossians is Paul’s response.  The apostle reminds the Colossians of the supremacy of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2)–who is the creator, sustainer, and ruler of all things.  It is Jesus who has reconciled sinners with God.  And it is Jesus whose death frees us from the guilt and power of sin.  All believers are united to Jesus who rules and reigns over all things from the right hand of God–symbolic of Jesus’ authority and power.  Furthermore, believers have been buried with Jesus and then raised with him in newness of life in their baptism (Colossians 2:11-12).  Because of this union with Christ, Paul exhorts the Colossians in 3:1, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”  

The best way to defeat the challenge of those who seek to disqualify them from the prize earned for them by Jesus, Paul tells the Colossians, is to focus upon their union with Christ so as to gain a heavenly perspective on earthly things.  In doing so, we will indeed begin to do the things Paul exhorts to the Colossians to do–we will strive to put to death sexual sin and idolatry, and we will strive to put off the sinful conduct mentioned in the previous verses.  Why?  Because we are united to Jesus Christ by faith and indwelt by his Holy Spirit.  This is what those in union with Jesus do–fight against sin.

The doctrinal error spreading throughout the Lycus Valley was typical of Greco-Roman religion of the first century.  This pagan impulse can be seen in the stress upon learning secret religious techniques and rules (the latter taken from Judaism and the commandments of God), so as to gain authority over the invisible forces of the world (spirits).  Apparently, those teaching the Colossian heresy taught that the worship of angels (mere creatures–not the creator) and the quest for visions (in an effort to gain knowledge of secret things) would give the followers of this heresy the spiritual energy needed to live a life of rigorous self-denial–avoiding certain foods, keeping Jewish feasts and holidays.  All of this was done in an effort to master the sinful flesh–human lust and desire.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

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