Mike Gerhardt, 03-17-19, Be Holy, Series in Colossians, Col 3:12-17. Ben Franklin: Honesty is the best policy. Mark Twain said: Honesty is the best policy when there is good money to be made from being honest. One corp exec to another: After we adopted that honesty is the best policy, we were able to lay off our entire legal department. Steve Landesberg: Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense. Honesty and other best policies.
“Hello, is this Pastor Mike Gerhardt?" "It is." "This is the IRS calling. Can you help us?" "I can." "Do you know a Teddy Dumbledore?" "I do." "Is he a member of your congregation?" "He is." "Did he donate $20,000 to the building fund?" "He will."
The church at Colossae was not founded by Paul but by Epaphras who was saved during a visit to Ephesus. Several years after, a dangerous heresy arose to threaten it – Gnosticism which taught that God and the spirit world is good, and matter and flesh are evil. Jesus descended from God and is less than God. A secret higher knowledge of scripture was necessary for enlightenment. More Jewish legalism: circumcision was necessary for salvation, observance of ceremonial rituals like diets and festivals. The worship of angels and other mystical experiences brought a spiritual high. Faith was not enough to save.
Put on the New. Verse 12: clothe yourselves.
Ever notice a little child in their christening or dedication outfit, or their first communion dress or jacket and tie. Kind of makes you want to be Catholic or Presbyterian. No doubt those little outfits are really cute but have nothing to do with the important issue of being cleansed from their ugly sin by the precious blood of Jesus. Their bright white outfits are a picture of the purity only Christ can give.
Paul tells his readers at Colossae to put on the new self being renewed in the knowledge and image of Christ, the purity and holiness of Christ. We are to be made anew in the image and likeness of our Creator. We were created in the image of God, but that image was marred and ruined by sin. When we come to Jesus as Savior and Lord that image is renewed and restored. Unlike the Gnostic belief in instant sanctification, living a Christian life is not something which occurs spontaneously or automatically. We don’t just sit back and do nothing. We actively pursue Christ and the Spirit in us to be compassionate and kind. These qualities sound like the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.
Exhibit Jesus in Forbearing and Forgiving. Verse 13.
We are to bear with each other, forgive each other. Forbearance is to be patient and tolerant with someone without becoming angry or upset. Literally, in the Greek, it means holding yourselves back from one another. Forgiveness in the Greek can mean to cancel a debt owed or to give generously. What greater motive is there to forgive each other than that Jesus Christ has forgiven us? How can we refuse to forgive our brother or sister their small and trivial offenses? Paul is writing about the character of the new man and woman. We are changed; our lives should be transformed by receiving new mercies every day.
Put on Love. Verse 14: And over all these virtues put on love which binds everything in perfect unity.
John Macarthur wrote: “Love is the beauty of the believer dispelling the ugly sins of the flesh that destroy unity.”
It is love which ties everything together. This means that we can see the measure of how much the love of Christ dwells within a Christian fellowship by the degree of unity. Is a Christian congregation divided within itself? Then there is very little of the love of Christ in its member’s hearts. Sadly we see so much that lacks unity which is a lack of love. Overall these virtues put on love. It’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us. Our human flesh wants to go the other way and wants to seek self. Constantly we have to remind who we are in Christ and yield to the Spirit to be like Jesus. Love is how we are known. God formed our hearts. Love could possibly be the greatest character trait we develop. Virtues are attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and to act in ways that develop this potential. We are to pursue these virtues we have adopted in the Spirit. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control and prudence are all examples of virtues.
Can a person develop virtues? Virtues are developed through learning and practice. Some suggest a person can improve his or her character by practicing self-discipline. But remember a good character can be corrupted by repeated self-indulgence. Just as the ability to run a marathon develops through much training and practice, so too does our capacity to be fair, to be courageous or to be compassionate. Paul gives us two sure fire ways to be more like Jesus.
Peace of Christ must rule, Verse 15. Peace is Key.
Ephesians 4:1-4 I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Peace with God - when we’re saved. Peace from God - when we’re forgiven. Peace of God - when we’re in pain.
Word of Christ must dwell, Verse 16.
Singing, Doing, Thanksgiving.
Virtues are good habits. They become a person’s character. A person who develops the virtue of giving is referred to as generous. We live in a world that is starving for people who have godly character.
D.L Moody said, Character is what you are in the dark. True character is what we are when nobody’s looking, in the secret chambers of the heart.
The same is true for churches. Our church needs to be passionate together about our love for Jesus Christ.
In his book “Life Wide Open” David Jeremiah speaks about passion and its opposite: passivity. The sinister cancer of passivity slowly squeezes the passion out of our life. The passionate life is one of activity, enthusiasm, and energy... It has been said that the most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire. Passivity snuffs out that vital inner blaze… areas of our life are marred by apathy, boredom and a “who cares” attitude. Unleashing the power of a passionate life begins by defeating the passivity in our heart toward God.
There are over four hundred thousand churches in America, but what effect are we having? Are we turning our society upside down the way Jesus and the apostles did? Not really. Have we become more in love with the internal activity of the church than with the Lord of the church? Have we moved from faith to formalism? Have we lost our first love? Have we lost our passion?
David Jeremiah closes his book with these words: Nothing is more deathlike than the life unlived. Dare to live, dare to meet the day with all that your soul can offer it. I deeply want to avoid dying before I have truly lived. I want to be a pioneer who pushes further and further into that last frontier- the transforming presence and power of God. Col 3:23-24: Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Jesus Christ whom you serve.
Everything we do, everything we say, everything we are, let us be passionate for our Lord, not for men but for Him!
Is Jesus at home in your heart?