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04-26-2015 message by Pastor Rich Doebler

Colossians 3
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

We’re in the middle of a series of messages we’re calling simply, “REDESIGN.” It’s about the ongoing work of God in our lives—he never stops with us; he keeps pouring his grace out on us.

We began two weeks ago by saying: Know who you are in Christ. Don’t let the devil (or your past or other people) steal your identity. When you come to Jesus, the old is over and done with. You are a new person! No matter what you were (past tense), your present and your future are different.

The devil wants to take that away from you. He wants to steal your identity in Christ. God calls you “Child…son…daughter.” The devil calls you, “Unwanted…abandoned…loser.” God calls you “Redeemed…saved…saint.” The devil calls you, “Unworthy…sinner…failure.”

We must stand up against the lies and deception of Satan. Reclaim the truth of who you are in Christ. Know who you are! Jesus gave his life and poured out his blood so you could have new life and new hope! You don’t have to be the same as you used to be.

Last week Fred spoke on the flow of the Holy Spirit—the continual flow that refines you and gives you the power to change when you keep surrendering to him.

The Bible says that Jesus came to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matt 3:11).

So, what happens when you put things in the fire? Do they stay the same? No! Some things burn up! They just absolutely burn to a crisp! Nothing is left but ashes. You sweep ashes out of the furnace and throw it away. Maybe there are things in your life that need to be burned to ashes—habits, behaviors, attitudes, lingering patterns from the past. The Holy Spirit burns those things away, sweeps them out of our lives.

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart. (Prov 17:3, NLT)

NASB: The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts.

And Peter wrote that troubles and trials in your life “come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Pet 1:7, NIV)

Did you catch that? Gold is refined by fire. But our faith is refined by trials! The Holy Spirit brings us through the fire of trials to refine our faith. The fire melts and purifies the metal, so all the old, yucky stuff (called dross) can float to the top and be skimmed off by the goldsmith. So the fire of the Spirit brings us to a place where we can be purified.

After Jesus was baptized, who led him into the wilderness? The Holy Spirit! And what happened in the wilderness? Was it a vacation? Was he camping out? Sitting by the camp fire, roasting marshmellows? No! He was tempted in the wilderness! He was not tempted by the Spirit; he was tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-2). But it was the Spirit who brought him to that place of trial and testing.

When Paul received an extraordinary revelation—an amazing vision of heaven—what happened? Paul said “because of these surpassingly great revelations…to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (2 Cor 12:7)

From blessings to trials! From victory to temptation! Fire! Because the Spirit of God keeps working on us; because his fire works to purify us.

Gold won’t last, but faith—when it’s refined—will last to the end! You see, God wants our lives to result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is finally revealed at the end of time.

But the fire of the Spirit does more than purify us. Fire also strengthens us.

You put clay in the kiln and it’s transformed into a something usable. You see, the potter takes the clay in his hand to shape it. God takes you in hand to reform you and shape you into a “vessel of honor” (2 Tim 2:20-21)—a bowl or a cup or pot or a beautiful vase for special purposes. But clay by itself can’t hold the shape the Potter gives. It’s weak and floppy. So the Potter puts the clay he’s reshaped through the fire—he puts it in the kiln, shuts the door, and turns up the heat. It’s the fire that gives clay the strength to hold together, to hold its shape. After it’s gone through the fire, it can be useful!

Do you see how God changes us? He begins at the cross. We are changed from death to life by Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. We can’t be molded or shaped or purified or strengthened without the work of the cross! That’s the first step—the first essential step.

But it’s not the last. God continues working on us. He continues to refine us. To shape us. To mold us. To develop us and give us strength.

When we came to Jesus he washed our sins away. But the cleansing process is ongoing! We still need “brain”-washing, because we live in a contaminated world, full of corrupt and vile behavior. The distorted values and twisted thinking of the world will kill you, so we need clean hearts and minds.

It seems like everywhere you go these days, you see public hand sanitizers—big dispensers with pumps on them. They’re attached to walls or sitting on counters all over. They’re in hospitals and schools and restaurants. We have several here in our church lobby. Why? Because people know that there are unseen germs lurking out there, trying to make you sick—germs that attach to your hands and then get inside you to spread disease. So we want to kill the germs before they make us sick.

Why is it that we are so conscious of germs we can’t see, but we ignore things we can see: a sick society—corrupted with rotten attitudes, toxic behavior, and sin? Why do we think we can just ignore the world’s empty values and sick thinking—and not be affected by it? Shouldn’t we be way more vigilent about spiritual sanitizers than we are about hand sanitizer?

I know it can be complicated. The same TV that pipes in the rotten garbage of the world can also bring us gospel programs. The same Internet that can infect us with an aggressive spiritual cancer also gives us amazing Bible study tools.

So some choose to solve the problem by removing the pipeline. Just shut it off. Get rid of the TV. Cancel your Internet subscription. You can avoid the sickness if you live in a sterile environment and keep the germs completely out.

But that means you also have no access to good things—even godly things—those tools provide. You see, the tools are not the problem. We are. We need a spiritual sanitizer. We need to use it regularly.

If we cloister ourselves completely away from the world, then we cannot do what God wants us to do: go to the world—go into all the world—be the salt of the earth; be the light of the world; be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have within you…

So let’s go back to the passage we read at the beginning, Colossians 3:1-11.

This letter was written to group of believers in the first century. They had become confused by teachers who said they needed to jump through all sorts of religious hoops in order to gain God’s favor. So they emphasized all sorts of religious rituals and various festivals and customs.

In other words, they were thinking they needed their old traditions for salvation rather than Christ alone! They were thinking their salvation depended on their own efforts, their own religious works.

And Paul, the writer of this letter, said, “No! Don’t depend on human tradition or human philosophy. Instead, make sure your heart and your mind are in the right place. Just make sure your heart and your mind are focused on Jesus.

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Paul said, You’ve already been given new life. You’re already “raised with Christ,” so let Jesus be your focus! Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is. Set your minds on things above. Stop thinking about earthly things—about human things. Stop thinking about what you can do. Think instead about what Jesus has already done when he gave you new life.

4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

If Jesus is your life, then the corruption and decay of the world has no place within you. If you’re alive in Jesus, put your old earthly nature to death—all the spiritual disease that wants to kill you…

7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices

If Jesus is your life, then you need to sweep away the ashes of your old life, your old habits, your old practices.

Maybe you’re thinking, How can I stop doing those things so ingrained in me? Let me answer that question with a question: What are you looking at? Look to Jesus! Turn your eyes toward him who is your life. Stop looking at the world.

Do dead people look at the world? If you’re dead, you stop responding to things like you did when you were alive. A corpse lying in the casket does not care what’s going on around it. People can cry and say how much they loved the person, but the corpse doesn’t feel a thing. No smile. No tears. No nothing. A corpse isn’t touched by emotions. Maybe someone comes up full of bitterness and anger and resentment toward the deceased. Cusses the person out. Calls him names. Does the corpse get defensive? Does the corpse sit up and say, “Whoa! Calm down. Take it easy.” No, the corpse doesn’t respond. Doesn’t react. Doesn’t get defensive or angry. A corpse is unaffected by the things going on around it. Somebody says, “It sure is cold in here.” The corpse doesn’t care.

The Bible says we used to be dead to God when we were living in trespasses and sins, but then God made us alive in Christ. (Eph 2:1,5)

When you’re alive in Jesus and dead to the things of this world, when your new heart and new mind are set on things above, you begin to live differently than you did when the world was your focus.

The world tries to sneak back in; the old nature tries to resurrect itself. But God says don’t look back at those earthly things; keep looking up! Paul reminds us:

10 [you] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Or as the TEV puts it: 10 …This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.