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February 17, 2019

Be Free

To be free in Christ is to be mature in Christ. How do we get there? Listen or read to find out.

Mike Gerhardt, Colossians 2:6-12, 2-17-19, Be Free.

On February 5, 2011, Stefaan Engels 49 from Belgian ran 365 marathons in one year. I wanted to inspire people by showing that if I could run a marathon a day for an entire year, that anyone could run or bike a little each day. Engels says the key to his 9,570-mile feat was keeping a slow pace. I recover quickly. I don't run fast, and my heartbeat is slow. His average 26.22-mile time was 4 hours, with his quickest being 2 hours 56 minutes. Asthmatic as a kid, Marathon Man Engels was advised to avoid sports. Between 2007-2008, he ran 20 Ironman Triathlons. I just told myself to run that day & did not think about the next day or next week. Now it’s time to give my body a rest. No kidding!! Do we have that kind of dedication to our faith, running this race called life? Hebrews 5:11-14 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
They had the instruction to be teachers, yet they were dull of hearing. They could only handle the simple truths in a way a baby can handle only simple foods like milk. But baby boys grow up to consume more complex solid foods and end up eating you out of house and home. We are to grow in Christ to discern good from evil & be spiritually mature. This takes a lifetime. Colossians 2:6-12.  Maturity means living in Christ. Vs. 6 As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. We received Jesus by confessing His Lordship and turning from sin, continue by walking in that same way. But, what does it mean to walk in Him? 1 John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. Darkness is a metaphor for ungodliness and immorality. Walking in the light is the exact opposite. It is to live a godly & moral life, submit to His Lordship & renounce sin. This is not sudden nor easy. Each day we decide to obey or rebel. Every moment we make the decision to walk in darkness or light. When we fall, we decide to get up or stay down. The race of life is won as you go slow & steady & when you are rooted & built up in Christ. vs. 7 Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught. (Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed NAS). Two illustrations. First, we are firmly rooted in Him. Picture a tree being rooted in the ground. The branches don’t stabilize the tree. That's the job of the roots. The branches are free to produce leaves and to sway in the breeze. The second picture is built up and established. Think of a house being constructed, a foundation being made so it won’t sink in the mud and the walls won’t fall. When we are rooted, built up and established in Christ we are secure and free to extend ourselves to others. If our spiritual life is rooted in anything else, we won’t make it through life’s storms. When things get rough the walls fall or be unstable. It’s like the parable of the four soils in Luke 8:14. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. Spiritual maturity is receiving the Word and letting it bear fruit: the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Maturity means strengthened in the Faith. Vs. 7 Strengthened in the faith as you were taught. Vs. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Knowing Jesus as God the Son and having a Biblical World View keeps us free from deception. Most people are easily taken captive by philosophies that agree with their basic wants. It is amazing how quickly I agree with a dietician who says dark chocolate is good for me but how I disagree with someone who says nothing that has added sugar is good for me. Do you remember that white death scam someone tried to convince us of years ago? Three major influences which constantly compete with our Biblical World View are media, education and professional sports. Media/entertainment drowns us with lust, greed, anger, pride, indulgences, selfishness and excess. Think of our obsession with sports, all-stars, Hollywood stars, our obsession with news and weather, style and cooking, clothes and jewelry. Think of our preoccupation with sex: it is used to sell everything from shampoo to lawn mowers. Education pushes an atheistic theory of macroevolution, abortion to the moment of birth and sexual lifestyles that are not only deadly but completely antithetical to biology. It's our responsibility to own a Biblical World View and to discern ideas which are hostile. Too often we either don’t know what we believe, or we prefer the darkness to light. We accept deception as part of life. Jesus made it clear to choose. We can’t serve two masters. The world is enmity towards God (James 4:4). When we try to combine a worldly lifestyle with Biblical truth, we end up with a hypocritical testimony. No wonder people can't see the difference Jesus has made in us. To underscore this point, remember Jesus has all authority. Vs. 9-10 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. No one’s opinions, feelings, commands matter when it comes to Christ. Jesus is the King of kings. We are to be spiritually circumcised in Him. Vs. 11-12 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. You are spiritually circumcised, buried and resurrected in Him. Marked for life. Allegiance to Him alone. You were dead, now you’re alive. You were under the penalty of sin, now you’re forgiven. You had a debt, but now it’s paid. You no longer owe a sin debt, but you owe your life to the one who brought you to life by forgiving your debt. You are free in Jesus. Maturity means overflowing with Gratitude. Vs. 7 And overflowing with gratitude. Babies don’t pay expenses, cook meals, do housework or change the oil in our car. I should know; I tried. Having three boys, I thought I could get them to do all my house & lawn work. A baby cries until he gets what he wants. When he conquers speech, he whines about the food, the condition of the house, & the car needing oil. Hopefully he will become mature and be thankful. Gratitude should match your age. The older you are, the more days you’ve be given, more opportunities to see beauty, to experience love and happiness, to learn, and to grow. You should be more thankful the older you become than the first few years of life. Or are you stagnant? Stagnant water stinks. Stagnant Christians smell bad too. Maybe the Holy Spirit’s voice in your life has been drowned out by the world and you have ceased growing. Maybe you need to get serious with God and say God give me fresh ears to hear and to be taught through your Word. Walk in Christ (v. 6). You were saved by faith, so walk by faith. You were saved by the Word, so walk according to the Word. You were filled with the Spirit, so walk in the Spirit. Your life continues as it began, by faith in God. Grow up in Christ (v. 7). Have roots down into the Word. Have a strong foundation built on Jesus. Do not be taken captive. Stay free & built up in truth. Make Jesus the test (v. 8). Test everything by asking: Does this give Christ preeminence? Almost every religion gives Jesus Christ a place of honor, but only true Bible Christianity gives Him the preeminent place. Draw on His fullness (vv. 9–10). There’s no substitute for Jesus. In Him we have all that we need. When believers drift into worldly living, or are taken prey by man-made systems, it is usually because they feel they lack something that Jesus cannot supply. You are made full in Him! Knowing Jesus as our all in all. Having the fullness of Christ. Grow up now, don’t put it off.