Messy Living

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.

-          At the end of chapter 2, Paul talked about dying with Christ, and with this death, the regulations we self-create to make us feel holier. I challenged you to consider what “rules” you had conjured up to make you feel better about your Christian walk. I pray you’ve given this some thought and pondered the “death of the to-dos.”

-          Paul doesn’t leave us in the grave, he tells us in chapter 3 of the good news: you have been raised with Christ! We must first understand death to self before we can transition to life with Christ. You can’t fully live with Christ when you continue to cohabitate with your sin. Think on this.

-          And speaking of thinking…we are to set our minds on things above, not earthly things. That is hard. It’s a process for God to re-wire our mind so that it’s focused on His Kingdom and not this broken world and the cares we’re loaded down with. This truth is repeated to us in Romans 12:1-2 which says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Death to self = Renewed in Christ.  

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.

-          More death talk—specifically, death talk about what should not be living in your spiritual house. Sexual sin, impure thinking, lust, evil desires, greediness – this will all keep us tossing and turning in a messy bed of shame. We are to rid ourselves of anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. These are all outward behaviors that are a reflection of our inward mess.

-          I know what you’re thinking, “Please tell me how I die to self and take off these old practices and put on the ‘new self!’” Do you want to know how to become renewed in knowledge in the image of your Creator? How to make Christ all in your life? Well, tune in next week…

-          Just kidding. Last week I talked about not generalizing what was meant to be personalized. So often, we go after the “steps to freedom” – those 3 or 4 things to-dos. Man, we love to-dos and sure-fire ways to recovery. But that doesn’t exist. Christ is all, and is in all (see verse 11) and that’s the step. The more you seek to know Him deeply, individually, uniquely, and intimately, this sin junk that is cluttering up your house will be purged. It’s a process, and it’s meant to be a personal journey. The only book with the answer is God’s Word, and that’s why week after week we study it together. But, if you’re simply reading it and going through the actions without personalizing it in your life—it will continue to be “head knowledge” and not a “heart knowing.”  

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

-          Because you have died with Christ, been raised with Christ, and you allow Christ to be all – you are to show the same compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience Christ showed to you.

-          At times, it’s more difficult to forgive believers than it is non-believers. Non-believers have a reason to act as they do: they are devoid of God. How quickly we forget that we, too, were devoid of God and it was by no act of our own that we are now alive. When other believers hurt us, we must remember to bear with them, not bear down against them.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And 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.

-          The peace of Christ sits on the throne of your spiritual house (heart) because you have received His peace through death and resurrection. When you chose to follow Christ, His sacrifice satisfied all the chaotic sin in your life – past, present, and future. Then why do things still feel messy? While God does not see the sin in our life (because of Christ’s blood), it’s not immediately removed. Think about where you live. When it’s dirty – you know, clothes strung out, crusty dishes in the sink, mud caked on the floors, that weird smell coming from the bathroom – you can’t snap your fingers and it all magically goes back in place [I do remember the old TV show Bewitched where she could make that happen, and I was peanut butter and jealous]. Same with our own spiritual houses. From God’s perspective, we are neat and tidy, but sin still has residency. There are emotions strung out, dirty thoughts wandering the corridors, mud on our lips, and the pungent stench of pride. The penalty of sin is removed, but sin itself doesn’t evaporate when we say, “I will follow.” It’s a process, just like it is in our own physical homes. Room by room, closet by closet, the Lord transforms us. He helps pick up the messes, learn healthy practices, teaches where things belong, shows us what to throw out, and is a wonderful gentleman about it all.

-          The clean-up process is always easier when we have encouragement along the way. Other people have messy houses, too. Verse 16 reminds us to share the message of Christ with them. Be a teacher and an encourager who is a godly guardrail and uses wisdom, psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit with a grateful heart to spur others along.

-          “And 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.” This verse is so powerful. It’s not saying, “If you are doing something you love, give thanks.” Or, “When you feel like you’re doing what God called you to do, be happy.” It says that whatever you are doing – dishes, laundry, cleaning up baby poop, going to school, teaching stir-crazy students – do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God. I love this Steven Curtis Chapman song, Do Everything.

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

-          Submission is part of the Christian life. Husbands are to submit to God and wives are to submit to husbands. Of course, we are never to submit to sin, insanity, violence, or adultery – but as wives, we are expected to submit otherwise. I love the advice David Guzik says, “This means that a woman should take great care in how she chooses her husband. Remember, ladies: this is what God requires of you in marriage. This is His expectation of you. Instead of looking for an attractive man, instead of looking for a wealthy man, instead of looking for a romantic man, you better first look for a man you can respect.

-          These last three verses should bring us both a reminder and comfort: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.” We talked previously about whatever we’re doing to do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Again, we’re reminded here that whatever we do, work at it with all your heart because God is boss-man. Maybe you don’t love the job or circumstance or season you’re experiencing right now, but God tells us to just remember that we work for Him. He will dish out the inheritance and He is the One you are truly serving. If you’re not in love with your attitude right now, then maybe it’s time to check the heart and see if it’s God or man you’re serving. Amen.