Living Out Our New Identity

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We’re in the middle of a series now in Colossians, the book of Colossians. The book of Colossians was written by the apostle Paul and has some tremendous teaching for us. And we spent a couple of weeks in chapters one and two digging into it and finding out what the Apostle had for us, what the Holy Spirit entail had for us and his inspired writings. And basically one and two are really just just a just this great exposition on the preeminence of Christ and how amazing and and wonderful and powerful the Gospel is in Christ is and all those things. And so this week we’re going to be jumping into Colossians chapter three. So if you have your Bibles this morning, go ahead and open up your Bibles to Colossians Chapter three. And we’re basically going to be in Colossians this morning. So if you want to dig into it, that’d be a good time to grab your Bible. If not, most of the passages should be on the screen behind me. But in Colossians chapter three and starting in verse five there you’ll see what the famous passage is, especially for us biblical counselors. It’s the put on, put off and put on. It’s these imperatives, these commands that God has given us to be able to live a life that honors God. And so we’re going to start there. In verse five, it says this put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you? Sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry.

On account of these, the wrath of God is coming in these you two once walked when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away. Anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another. Seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. So there’s the put off. Those are the things that God desires us to put off in our walk here in this earth. And then beginning in verse 12, he tells us what to put on, put on. Then as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience bearing with one another. And if one has a complaint against one another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all, these put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And so we see here you can go to the Christian bookstore and you can find stuff on counseling and living a godly life and holiness. And there’s many, many books published, and the majority of them will have this passage of scripture in there put off, put on the important things to do that. But what I want to do this morning is just kind of address the issue that we need to be careful not to just add this as a list of do’s and don’ts.

Right? This checkbox. The things. Okay. Things I need to do. Things I don’t need to do. I need to make sure I’m getting rid of all these things in my life. Because what happens is we’re just kind of pre-wired for this, this thing of just being able, wanting to do this stuff in our own strength and power. And that’s certainly what not. That’s certainly what Paul is certainly not talking about that here in this passage of scripture. And so it’s dangerous just to kind of parachute into these passages of scriptures because we immediately say, man, I’m failing here. I’m failing there, put away anger. Oh, man, I yelled at my kids last night, put away all these things. So we want to make sure that we don’t just add this or make this a list of do’s and don’ts and say, Man, I got to do this and pick myself up by my own bootstraps. That’s not what Paul’s doing here. In fact, if we remember back a couple of weeks, the first chapter is one and two. Paul’s warning against stuff like that, if you will see with me in Colossians chapter two, verse 20, he says this. If with Christ, you died to the elemental spirits of the world. Why? As if you were still alive in the world. Do you submit to regulations? Here’s the don’ts, right? Do not handle. Do not test. Do not taste.

Do not touch. Referring to the things that all perish as they are used according to the human to human precepts and teachings. He goes on in verse 23 to say this These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion, religion and asceticism and severity to the body. But look at this. But they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. So Paul is saying on one hand in Chapter three, do these things and don’t do these things. But then he says, wait, don’t subject yourself to that. Don’t taste, don’t handle, don’t touch. So what’s going on here? Further before 20, in Colossians two chapter verses 16 through 19, Paul says Therefore, let no No one pass judgment on you in questions of food or drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. And we begin to get a hint here. First of all, why he’s writing the letter, right, and where he’s going to go with this letter. But I just want to stop and think for just thank the Lord for a moment. I’m a big picture kind of guy. I need to know the big picture. Like if you if I go to work and someone says, do this task, I need to know why I’m doing the task and what that task is going to do for the overall picture, that’s just how kind of how my brain works.

And so I love this, this these passages here, how this explains to us the big picture, God’s complete redemption story across the entire Bible, that Old Testament, the Temple, the Sabbaths, the rules, the festivals that were kept, all those things, the Old Testament. What were they for? Why do we not need them today? Well, Paul explains this here. Those are a shadow of things to come. Those are all types pointing to the Messiah that would come one day. Right? But Christ has appeared. He has stepped into his creation. The substance belongs to Christ. Christ has fulfilled all those things in the Old Testament. That’s the big picture. And we can rest in that and we can know that. But I digress. Let’s get back to here. So verse 18 says, Let no one disqualify you. And insisting on asceticism, asceticism and worship of angels going on in detail about visions puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind. Okay. Says don’t do don’t let people do that. Don’t let them disqualify you and let them come in with all these lofty ideas. But here again, we have a picture of where he’s going with this letter. Verse 19 and not holding fast to the head from whom? The whole body nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments. Ligaments grows with a growth that is from God. So Paul is saying you need to hold fast to the head and we know this is Christ.

And so what is this all about? As we discovered in the first week of discovering Colossians, the apostle Paul has written this letter to a group of believers in a city called Colossae. And Paul didn’t start this church. Paul was preaching up in Ephesus. You read that in the Book of Acts. And there’s this fellow by the name of Epaphras who was a Colossian, and he was up there in that town, and he heard more than likely the gospel preached by Paul, and he received Jesus as savior, became born again. And then he took that good news down to his hometown, and he spread that good news in the town of Colossae. And people believed they heard this gospel message that Jesus is the Messiah, that he stepped into his creation and lived that perfect life, that we can’t live because of our sin nature. And then he not only lived that perfect life, but he went to the cross and died for us on our behalf. He took the punishment of God, the wrath of God upon himself, for us, for all those who believe so that we might be justified in the sight of a holy God. That amazing gospel message was preached in colossae and a group of believers believed and trusted in that. And it was an amazing it was fruit of the gospel, which is as we study the Book of Acts, it was being spread throughout all the known world.

This was like a wildfire just spreading throughout. The gospel message was just spreading throughout the entire known world. But as we begin to read between the lines here, we begin to see that this message was believed and received by this group of believers. But we can kind of and we can probably all empathize with this. We can see that something was going on where after they received it, they these group of new believers with not a lot of instruction. Right. Apophis was a new believer. Not a lot of instruction going on. They begin to see themselves as justified in front of a holy God because of what Christ has done. But then they begin to wrestle with this reality that this sin nature still abides in in them, and they’re fighting this sin nature. What’s wrong with me? Why do am I still sinning? Why what? Why am I have these angry thoughts? Why am I? You know, the pagan influences of colossae were influencing this church. And so it looks like a Pappas went back to Paul and gave a report to about this church that was going on in Colossae and saying, Hey, there’s some good stuff going on. We see the love for the for the Brotherhood, which always is always a key component of, of a of a believing of Christ follower and the growing in Christ and all those things. But there’s also some concern because these we can see through this letter that Paul is writing to them, that false teachers have come in and said, Oh.

Something’s missing. You want fullness? That’s the key word in this book. Fullness. You want the full thing of God? You want to have the full knowledge. You want to be without sin. These false teachers would come in and begin to say, you need to add Jewish law to your belief in Christ. Maybe false teachers were coming in as we see a different several different things going on in this false teaching that was being being presented. There was pagan mysticism, right? Worship of angels, all these different things. All you want fullness. This is what you need to do. You need to add this God did Jesus. Maybe all these different things were going on. So we have this idea that these new believers were looking for fullness and we can empathize with that. Do we all have sin? A sin nature? We all struggle in that walk. But but Paul is writing here is, is that we can’t find that outside of Christ. Christ is all and in all. And so that’s what Paul is writing in this letter. And so he’s not only saying warning against these false teachings and saying, right, there’s this not in verse 23, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. These believers probably just wanted to stop sinning and they were looking for a way to do it, but they were trusting in false teachings and false doctrine.

And Paul says that’s not where it’s at. It’s in Christ. And so in Colossians one verses nine through 11, we can see Paul beginning to not only warn them against the false teaching, but begin to give them the answer to their question of how we can become sanctified, how we can begin to mortify or kill the old nature. And he says this in verse nine. And so from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you. And here it is asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Now look at this and this is an important aspect for us as believers. Yes, we need to bear fruit. Yes, we need to seek after God and walk with God. And we have a responsibility. But we always know that it’s the power of God working in us and through us that differentiates the believer from the world. When you when someone believes this message and has received Christ as savior and seeks to follow after him, the scriptures teach us that the God, the Spirit becomes and dwells inside the heart of the believer and begins, regenerates us and gives us a new nature. And this new nature is a nature that seeks after God and wants to do things for God.

And so it’s him desiring to do a work with us. And our responsibility is to cooperate with the spirit, recognizing it’s his power and his strength, not us, but him working inside of us. And it says that may you be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might. Not our might, but his. And that’s Paul’s prayer for them. And it’s a prayer for all of us that we might be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. Further, we read in Colossians chapter two, verses one through three. Again, Paul is telling us, or revealing to them and to us what the struggle in this walk in this Christian walk is all about. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those that lay audacia and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged being knit together in love. To and this to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the. Knowledge of God’s mystery which is Christ. And what does Paul say about Christ in whom are hidden? All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. These false teachers were telling them, Oh, you want wisdom, You want to you want to press in. You want to you want a fuller understanding. You need to do these things. You need to have asceticism in your life and deny yourself or you need to add the law to yourself.

No. Paul says, look to Christ, hold fast to the head and him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom and knowledge. So important. This is a book I had to read in Bible college and it was amazing. I highly recommend it. It’s called Knowing God by J.I. Packer. It’s a really good book on just not only the the theological understanding of God, but how we practically live that out in our lives. And he says this. It says, No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind than the thoughts of God. But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He, who often thinks of God will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead and the Glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing. So magnify the whole soul of man. As a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the greatest subject of the deity. And he makes an important point here. And whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is imminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound. And so what he’s pointing to is, yes, knowledge of God is important. And we have this amazing treasure trove of the scriptures that brings us and enables us through the power of the Spirit.

The Word of God is, is is the sword of the spirit. It’s what the God uses to to renew us and to make us the knowledge, the spiritual knowledge of Jesus known in our lives and hearts and minds. But we also have to be aware and be important to realise that it’s not just about knowledge in the head. It’s not about polishing up our theology and then looking down on everybody else who doesn’t believe the same as you. This knowledge is spiritual knowledge. But Paul is seeking and what we should seek is a knowledge that brings us and drives us to a more imminent or a sorry, a closer relationship with Christ. I had some fancy word. Apparently it just decided to exit. But that’s what is we should desire. This increase in knowledge is not just a knowledge that puffs up. It’s the one that makes an intimate. That’s the word relationship with Christ. And I’m going to write it on my own anyway. All right. So it’s about knowledge, but it’s about a knowledge that makes us more intimate with Christ. In Colossians chapter two, verse six says this. Therefore, as you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. And there’s for just a short little verse there. There’s so much packed into that because we see there he’s hearkening back to them to that point when they receive Christ, when they heard that message and they, by faith, receive Jesus as Lord and savior.

And that’s an amazing thing that’s justified. That’s the theological term justification. They when they did that, they were justified. They became justified in the eyes of a holy God because Christ took their penalty for them on their behalf. The vicarious work on the cross and the amazing thing is, is we don’t have to be work to be somebody or work to be holy enough to be able to be justified. Each of us are in a different walk in our life. Each of us have besetting sins that are different When we before we come to know the Lord. Some of us, you know, are have lots of money. Some of us came from a very poor upbringing. All of us are struggling with that point. But the point of the gospel is this You don’t have to work your way up to be justified in the eyes of a holy God. When I grew up, I don’t know how many times I had attempted to have a relationship with God, but I was. A. I was having to deal with the the this training that I had that I had to prove myself to God that I could be worthy and holy long enough before I could have that relationship with him. That I could. If I did enough good things long enough, then I could have relationship with him. And I mean it. I countless times growing up, did I do that? And I would do good for a while and I would just fall flat on my face.

But then I heard this wonderful message of the gospel that Jesus will take you where you are right now, just as you are right now. And if you believe and by faith receive his son as Savior, he will justify you. He took that penalty on your behalf. Such an amazing thing. But then it goes on to say, As you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. And this points to this thing of sanctification. Salvation is not just this thing in the past that’s happened to us where, okay, now we got that squared away. And so when I die, I’m going to go see the pearly walked through the pearly gates. This amazing gospel transaction changes us and gives us that new nature. Who desires to pursue after God and what He wants us to do is walk in Him. He wants us to see our new identity in him. It’s about identity. We before we came to Christ, we identified as a certain person growing up. For me, it was football. In high school, I was a jock. That’s my was my identity. Right then I got out in this world and I was a river guide and, you know, hippie guy who lived in the back of his truck. And that was my identity. And then I got a good paying job. And so that became my identity.

And so everything that, you know, I projected, the people I identified through what I did as my job. But when I came to Christ, the Scriptures say I’ve been given a new identity and that I need to put off the old self. And it’s understand. And all of us need to understand our new identity in Christ. That’s who we are as Christ followers. We identify with the Messiah. We walk in him. And that’s what Paul is trying to get these Colossians to see. It’s not about adding other things to Jesus, it is about Jesus and understanding our identity and walking in him and his power and his strength. You know, the book of Ephesians Chapter five. We often turn there to demonstrate what a godly marriage looks like and what the husband is supposed to do and his role and responsibility and the wife’s role and responsibility and then the children’s responsibility. But in Ephesians 532, Paul makes this very important point. The marriage that we have was intended to be a picture of Christ and the church. Our marriage that we have here with one another, the two shall become one flesh. It’s supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church, according to the Apostle Paul. And that’s what Paul is trying to get these this group of believers here at Colossae to understand that they’re in Christ now. I was listening as I was preparing for this, there was a pastor who was talking about he was doing premarital counseling.

And this young couple comes in and they’re just giddy and just, oh, we puppy love. You know, we just love each other. It’s just going to be amazing. And and, you know, the pastor is asking the this guy questions and he says, so, you know, tell me, do you love your wife? Oh, there’s I there’s you know, I just love her so much. There’s just no way I could love her anymore. And he’s like, I just didn’t have the heart to tell him. You have no idea what you’re talking about, right? Because when the honeymoon ends and real life begins, right? That’s when God uses the everyday in the mundane right to sharpen each other and to walk with each other and to learn about each other and. And to please one another and to serve one another. That’s what the marriage is about. And it’s a picture of Christ in the church. That’s what Christ desires us to do, to walk with him and to love him and by loving others and to serve him and and that picture. And and so, you know, the pastor said, you know, the greatest treasure I have is when that a couple like that comes back to me ten, 15, 20 years later and says, I just my love for my wife keeps increasing. It gets sweeter and sweeter every year. Looking back, the day I married her, I had no clue how my love would begin to grow for her and expand for her.

And that’s what Christ or Paul is trying to explain to us and to the believers there at Colossae. We need to walk with him. Just as you received him walk in him and increase in your knowledge with him, become intimate with him, and your love for him will grow more and more. And the fruits of the spirit will demonstrate itself in in our lives more and more. But we must hold fast to the head. We must walk with him and see our identity in him. And by that, Paul goes on and begins in Colossians Chapter three. Actually, the chapter I was supposed to preach on. So we’re finally here, says in verse one, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. And he goes on to say, For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory. These believers wanted fullness. They wanted a closer connection with God. They wanted to understand how it is that they could get rid of their sin that harboured them and followed them in like a pack of dogs, just willing wanting to pounce on you. That’s what I feel like sometimes.

They wanted to know how to do that. And so Christ says, you need to understand who you are in Christ and walk in that new identity in him. Seek the things that are above where Christ is. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. If you’re a Christian this morning, this world is not your home. You’re a pilgrim passing through. You’re here for a purpose, and that is to shed the gospel light. But this is not our final resting place. The kingdom that is to come is what we should have our minds and hearts set on. Because the things of this world and what this world promises will only lead to sadness and destruction ultimately. Satan is a counterfeit artist. Right. He sets up this world and says, you can find joy and and happiness and this. And this and this, and it’s short and easy. And all you got to do is take this pill or whatever it is, and it’s a counterfeit. He promises a shortcut to the things that only can be found in abiding and walking in Christ and understanding our new identity in Him. So how do we seek things above? That’s the important part. Sounds all great, but practically speaking, when we step out of this building this afternoon and go into our normal lives, how can we begin to practically apply seeking the things which are above? And thankfully, we don’t have to go to the Christian bookstore and say, you know, buy a book to demonstrate that if we just keep our nose in scripture, in this book, we he shows us.

Verse five says, If you want to keep your eyes on the things above, put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you? Sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. See, it’s no longer a list of do’s and don’ts. We now understand why it’s so important to get rid of these things because we are seeking the things that are above, not of this earth and these things are things that hinder us. And look in verse six, it says, On account of these, the wrath of God is coming. An account of these. The wrath of God is coming is that they’re to scare us. Oh, the wrath of God is coming. What is that about? Well, I think. Paul is demonstrating to us that those things that we he’s calling us to put to death immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire are things that God hates. The wrath of God is coming upon them. But why does he hate them? Because they destroy the things that he loves. That’s why he hates them. These are the things. That destroy. Those that he loves. And so that’s why we should put them to death. And these two. You also once walked when you were living with them, before you were justified, before you regenerated. That’s who you were defined as.

But not any longer. But now you must put them all away. And if you were there to say, Well, I don’t participate in their immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire. Well, he’s got you here, I’m sure. Put away anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another. Seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, this new creature, this new creation, this new heart God has given us. That’s what He desires for us to feed and to flourish as we hold fast to the head and increase in our knowledge in him. That new self begins to manifest itself and the old self begins to die off, which is now being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. This new self is renewed in the knowledge of its new creator. So knowledge is important, but we have to make sure it’s a knowledge that’s seeking to drive us to a more intimate relationship, not just a knowledge that puffs up. Second. Peter says this the Apostle Peter, one through three, says his divine power. Again, it’s him. His power, not ours, has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. All things. He’s given it to us. We don’t need to add anything to it. It is Christ. He is all knowledge and all wisdom that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of how do we get this life that again, we read it.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him, who called us to his own glory and excellence. So this picture of a marriage, I don’t love my wife because of the vow I took. I love my life because I enjoy her. And the longer I spend with her, the more I enjoy her. And that’s what the pitcher is here. The longer we walk with Christ, the more we’re going to enjoy it. We’re being transformed and being renewed in knowledge. After the image creator, we become more intimate. And that’s what Christ desires. We have to understand, it’s not just about putting off all those things, right? That’s just pharisaism. Don’t do. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Then you’re in. You’re good. That’s not what Christ desires for us. Just to get rid of all the old bad stuff. He desires to put on the new person. We’re supposed to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. We can’t do do that in our own strength and power. We must have Christ working through us and in us. And so he goes to tell them, put on then as God’s chosen ones. So our new identity. You’ve been chosen by God, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience bearing with one another. And if one has a complaint against one another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, you also must forgive.

And above all, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body. So we’re supposed to put on these things all these different kindness, humility, meekness, patience. Right. We’re supposed to put these on. And really what it is, is these are all attributes of our savior. These are all things that are found in Christ and we walk in Christ. That’s who we are in reality. And and God desires us to live that reality out in our daily walk. And so we seek to put him on to be a good use of influence in this world of good and and for him and his kingdom and and demonstrating those wonderful attributes of our creator to those around us so that they might say, what’s different about you? And we get to say, it’s not me. That’s what God’s desire is. It’s Christ’s power working through us as we keep our eyes on the things that are above and not on the things that the earth. All right. And then in verse 16, we’ll conclude with verse 16 here. So how does our spiritual knowledge of him increase, if that’s what the important part is to learn as we walk in him, to learn about him and increase in him? How does that happen? Right. Hopefully more practical teaching for us here in verse 16.

What does Paul say? Well, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. We’ve been given such an amazing gift in the scriptures. Hebrews One says, God hath spoken in times past by the prophets, but in these latter days has spoken to us by his son. And the scriptures. Manifest itself and who Christ is and what He has done for us and the things He desires for us. All these wonderful things that he wants for us, the fruits of the spirit, all that is found in Scripture. And so let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. If you want to increase in spiritual, increase in spiritual knowledge of him so that you can have a more intimate relationship with him, you’ve been given this wonderful gift of the word and he’s also given us the church. We hear teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom. Right. Christianity shouldn’t be a solo game. We should meet here and congregate together. Not just to sing praise music, but to. To edify. That’s What does it say, right? Admonishing one another in all wisdom, teach and teaching and admonishing. We need to be rubbing up against each other and sharpening each other in the scriptures. He’s given us this wonderful gift of the Scriptures and then the church. And it’s more than just a Sunday morning. I hope for you it’s a time where we can be open for admonishment by other believers that we can they can, you know, as we get to trust each other and know each other, this is all part of God’s way of increasing in our spiritual knowledge and singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

Yes, an important part of it. And we see a diversity diversity of of music, don’t we? Not here singing in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And ultimately in whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. So the third point is an ever increasing awareness. Of our new identity in Jesus. That’s how we increase in spiritual knowledge. Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. That covers everything. All walks of life. You go to work tomorrow? You work for Jesus. You serve your family tomorrow. You’re serving your family for Jesus. You have a lunch over with a non-believer. You have an opportunity to share them with them. Jesus. Whatever you do. In word or deed, everything in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Let us hold fast to the head. That I am. We are all in all and are everything. As the old hymn says, as we turn our eyes upon Jesus, the things of this world will grow strangely dim. And that’s Christ desire in us as we hold fast to the head.