Colossians 3B: My Heart- His Home.
Paul has told us to put to death those things which were part of our old nature, in which we once used to walk when we lived in our old nature. He listed some of those sins we used to yield to in our old nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. Paul also told us to rid ourselves of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language.
Paul then reasons since we have taken off our old nature, we must put on our new nature which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of the Creator.
Paul then tells us what our duty is as’ God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved’. Let us think about this for a moment- chosen people, holy and dearly loved. The KJV uses the word ‘elect’ where the NIV uses chosen. This is a word which divides Christians as to its meaning. Paul writes in Ephesians 1-God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Hard to understand? Yes, even Peter said the same thing. Peter said ‘Paul’s letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16) Here is what Jesus said to the Jews in John 5: 39, 40: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
And in Luke 13, Jesus said how he longed to gather Jerusalem as a mother hen would her chicks, but you were not willing. In the KJV, Jesus said ‘how often I would have gathered you’. They were given multiple opportunities, Jesus longed for them to come to Him that they might receive life. In John 3: 18- he tells Nicodemus, light has come into the world, but men had rejected the light because their deeds were evil. They preferred to dwell in the darkness of evil. Again in Luke 19, when Jesus is entering Jerusalem for the fateful week of the crucifixion, we are told: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it, and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes.”
God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and is not willing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance. But these verses tell me there is a window of opportunity in which man can respond to the gospel to the light he/she has received. Then there will come a day and a time in which the Spirit will no longer strive with man.
The agnostic or atheist who says God has not given him enough proof for His existence is described by the Bible as both a fool and liar. The fool says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14). A liar because what may be known about God has been made known to every creature through creation and the conscience. So Paul says they are without excuse. What we are witnessing today in America is exactly what Paul wrote in Romans 1: 18; “….they suppress the truth by their wickedness. “And although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do those very things, but also approve of those who practice them.”
I have quoted all these verses as proof of what God’s purpose is and was in sending His Only Son – it was not to condemn the world ; but that through Him the world might be saved. Jesus did not say – they could not come- but they would not come. This is why Paul says they are without excuse.
Here is a verse I have not thought of until recently reading something that really brought this verse home to me. During his arrest and the trials Jesus went through prior to his execution listen to this reply to Pilate’s question: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replies ‘My kingdom is not of this world, but from another place.” Pilate responds by saying- You are a king, then! Jesus said: “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into this world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listen to me.” (John 18) To this Pilate asked what is truth and walked away, he did not await an answer from the One who is the Truth. * This is the question of today- what is truth?!
Jesus tells us He came into the world to testify to the truth. He knew who He was. His testimony was to reveal to us who we are. He came to tell us the truth about ourselves. He came to tell us the truth which would set us free. *As Christians we are to be truth detectives!*
Peter has already told us he had trouble understanding everything Paul wrote, so I am not too worried that I do not grasp all the significance of this word- chosen or elect. In fact Peter explains it this way, and his explanation satisfies me. “Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.” Notice all three persons of the Trinity are involved in the process of redemption. Peter does not try to explain God’s ways- he simply says God figured all of this out beforehand. And we trust God to be just and perfect in all that He does.
I do not understand all of this, but I know what I am supposed to do: I am to share the TRUTH, the gospel, the good news of a God who saved me from eternal death. I was a 31 year old drunkard, who went down on his knees a sot in a hotel room and arose a saint. It was a miracle of grace. I am to share this good news and leave the working out of His eternal purposes to God. We are to testify to the truth. The world around us needs desperately to hear it.
Let us continue with description of who we are now as new creations in Christ. The next word Paul uses to describe our new self is ‘holy.’ This word means set apart. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (I Cor. 6; 19, 20)
I belong to Him. He belongs to me. Just as a marriage ceremony sets apart a man and woman for each other exclusively, so salvation sets the believer apart exclusively for Christ. This why our relationship to Jesus is one of a bride to her bridegroom. A marriage is a picture of two people living out the same life together. And it was intended to reflect the relationship of God to mankind. Can you now understand how this Supreme Court ruling of same-sex marriage grieves God?
Next Paul says we are dearly loved. Chosen, made holy, and dearly loved by God. I believe love is the most powerful motivating power in the world. When we were created in the image of God, part of that image was the capacity to love and receive love. How important is love? For God so loved the world He gave us Himself… God is love. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.” (I John 4) I love Him, because He first loved me. I exist because God willed for me to exist. Acts 17 tells me God chose the time and place I would be born. He created me so He, Almighty God could give Himself to me.
We will also read in verse fourteen, Paul tells us the role love plays in putting on these virtues of our new nature. He says Love binds them together in perfect unity. This is why the two greatest commandments in the Bible on which all other scripture rest are about love: loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10)
Want to know the secret of life? The secret of life is knowing the Truth about life. Jesus is the Truth and the life. He came to testify to the Truth. Here is the secret to the abundant life He came to give us. First of all- Jesus told us a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions. The abundant life is explained in the teaching of the “Vine Life” or “Abiding Life” Jesus taught in John 15. This teaching was saved for the last teaching He shared with His disciples just hours before his arrest and crucifixion. This night and his words would be a night they would never forget. Using the vineyard as an illustration. Jesus told us- His Father owned the vineyard; He was the Vine and we believers are the branches.
Here are the secrets of living explained:
- The secret of living is fruit bearing. ( This the abundant life, and the purpose of the branch>)
- The secret of fruit bearing is abiding. ( For apart from Him we can do nothing)
- The secret of abiding is obeying.
- The secret of obeying is loving. (If you love Me, keep my commandments.)
- The secret of loving is knowing.
Pauls’ desire above all else was to know the Lord Jesus in the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, becoming more like Him. Paul knew, and we should know- the more we know Him and experience Him, the more we shall love Him. And the more we love Him, the more we will obey Him and the more we obey Him, the more closely we will abide in Him and the more we abide in Him, the more fruit we will bear. And this will glorify God and will fulfill our lives like nothing else in this world can. For the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever and ever!
Do you see what the first three acts of God- being chosen, made holy and dearly and deeply love add up to? GRACE.
The virtues Paul list we are to put on are pictures of the outworking of God’s grace in our lives. Each of these are a byproduct of the outworking of God’s Grace.
- Compassion or mercy. We did not come to ask God for justice- we pleaded with Him for mercy. Have mercy on me, Oh Lord! He has shown us His mercy in the forgiveness of all our sins. We should there for display tender mercies toward one another.
- Kindness. My grandmother used to say – ‘rudeness is never acceptable, kindness always is.; we are commanded to be kind to one another, tenderhearted. We are to reflect the kindness of God. Not harshness. Speak the truth in love.
- Humility. Not thinking more highly of yourself than you should. JOY- Jesus first, others second yourself third.
- Gentleness or meekness. This is power under control.
- Patience or long suffering. Only way to develop patience is to be put in situations which require patience. Waiting on the Lord. Patience is part of the testing of our faith and is an important component in maturing our faith.
- Bearing with each other. Forbearance. Hold back judgment. These three go together- Gentleness, patience and forbearance.
- Forgiveness. This keeps you from developing malice in your heart. Malice is the desire to do evil to another person. It is congealed anger which produces rage, malice and leads to slander.
- Put on love. As this is what motivates and holds all of these virtues of grace together.
Paul then instructs us: “to let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace.” Do you know one of the sure ways to know when you are doing the will of God? It is when you experience peace, inner peace. By the same way, when you do not have this inner peace, you know you are disobeying God. We know what sin is and we know when we willfully commit sin and disobey God we will suffer the consequences of God’s discipline. For God will not only discipline his children, but we will also experience the guilt and shame which come as the twin conditions of loss of peace from disobedience. There may be some gray areas, where you might want to justify an action which is questionable. Paul has given us a simple question to ask yourself: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Is what you are planning to do something to bring glory to the Lord Jesus? Will it possibly cause someone else to stumble? Can it be habit forming? This peace Paul is referring to is rule in your hearts. Rule means it like a referee who can penalize you for breaking a rule, or an umpire in a baseball game who will call one ‘safe or out’, fair or foul. When there is peace in one’s heart there will be a thankful spirit. Cover up your sins and you will lose your peace and your praise.
The key to all of this lies in verse 16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell richly in you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
The Word of God will transform our lives based on this one condition: Let the Word of Christ dwell richly in you.
Dwell means to abide, one’s home. Jesus said, “If you abide in my Word, you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set your free. ( John 8:32) And in this same passage, Jesus then substitutes his name for the Word, for He is the Word. “And if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed” (John 8:36).
“Now you are clean through the word I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abides in me, and I in him the same brings forth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. “(John 15: 3-5) Notice the Word cleanses us.
“If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, so shall you be my disciples.” (John 15: 8)
Paul tells us Christ dwells in our hearts through faith (Ephesians 3. It is here God strengthens us in our inner man. In John 14, again on the night of the Last Supper listen to this amazing truth: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. (John 14:23)
Now Jesus told us when he got ready to leave this earth, He was going to prepare a place for us in heaven, so we could spend eternity with Him. However on the day of Pentecost, He sent the one he promised who would indwell us and seal us and comfort us- the Holy Spirit. So when you got saved through the miracle of the outpoured Spirit, God Himself came to dwell in your heart. And our bodies became his temple.
Now our hearts are his home. If Christ is to dwell richly in our lives, He must have access to all our lives. Make sense to you? If He has bought the house- he has the key to every room. He is not a renter living in one bedroom with limited access to other rooms and some rooms locked to him without giving him the key.
If my wife is going to have company spend the night- she will make sure they have clean sheets, clean towels and toiletries. She wants to make them feel at home and she is a most gracious hostess. She will tell them, as you have also been told when staying at someone else’s home- “make yourself at home.”
I wonder if Jesus Christ is dwelling richly in your heart, now his home. Does He feel at home?
What would he find on your bookshelves? In your refrigerator? On a computer search of sites visited? What would your check book reflect? Are these not His possessions now? Or do you claim the right to withhold certain areas of our life from its rightful owner?
Gina and I rented a house when we were in Florida for my company. We were not sure of what we wanted to do, so rather than buy a house, we rented to give ourselves time to decide if we wanted to stay long term and if we did where would we live.
We found a beautiful old home in Dunedin which looked out on St. Joseph’s Bay. Gina and I loved this house and its setting. Our landlord lived in North Carolina. We had not been renters in years, so it was an odd feeling to know this man could come and walk into our house at any time and inspect it. He also had left a large walk-in closet in our bedroom under lock and key and we could not enter it.
We loved the house, but it never felt exactly like our home, because we were not allowed in a certain area and could not do certain improvements.
I wonder does Jesus feel like a renter in the very house He owns.
Why not give Him all your heart? Why not begin today, but asking Him to help you clean up some areas which you know are not pleasing to Him. He will help you. He will not berate you.
May Christ dwell richly in your heart. May He settle down. And you can truly say to Him- Lord make yourself at home- for this is your home. You are my master.
Now in the verses from Colossians 3:18 through 4:1, Paul covers rules for Christian Households. He explains the attitude the wife should have toward the husband; the husband to the wife, parents to children; and children to parents. Also employ to employer and employer to employee. These instructions are also given in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.
The verses preceding these instructions in Ephesians 5 are important to understand the principle here. In Ephesians 5:15, 16 tells us to be careful how you live- not as unwise but as wise. Do not be foolish but understand what is the will of God. Paul then writes we are to be filled with the Spirit.
When we are filled with the Spirit watch what happens: “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” He then speaks of wives submitting to their husband and husbands loving their wives as Christ did the church. Do you know what is the basis of all these actions? First of all they come from yielding to the Spirit and each one of these relationships is based on mutual submission. The wife wants the best for her husband, and the husband wants the best for his wife. The same with the children to their parents and the parents to their children. Ditto employees to employer and employer to their employees.
This happens when the Word of Christ dwells richly in your heart.
Where does a King live? In a castle. When King Jesus rules from the throne of your heart, JOY is the flag which flies from the castle. J.O.Y. Jesus first; others second, yourself third.