Things That Are Above

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” (Colossians 3:1-10)

One of the major themes of the Apostle Paul’s teaching is that we are to put off the old sinful self and put on the new self which strives to grow into the image we were created in, that of our heavenly Father God in heaven. It is I know easier to say than for us to actually do but it is not a work that we must do entirely on our own. For us it is an act of submission and surrender to the will of God for our lives. It is a life living in the plan and purpose that we were created to be. As the Pastor has been teaching us this year we are created in His image and we are to be reflectors of the original, God. “And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:24)

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden our lives have been tainted with a sin nature. The desire of the flesh have overruled the spirit which was breathed into us from God the Creator. “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) I find it interesting that all of the life that God created on earth came by His Word and was created alive. Yet He formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him by the spirit. The spirit is an eternal gift from God and yet many a man ignores its eternal value.

Man tends to live in the flesh, the physical life that he has to maneuver through this world. The flesh of man is locked in a love affair with the desires of this world driven by his selfish pride. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16) It is hard for us to struggle with the desires of the flesh as our perspective of life is trapped in the physical world we live in. Yet we should have a resurrection perspective as this is where the vast majority of our time will be lived, in eternity.

It is not that our bodies are evil, as God created our bodies and His creation is “very good.” It is the ego of our minds that drives to please the desire of the flesh which lead us into sinful behavior. Our hearts spend too much time feeding the desires of the flesh and forsake feeding the desires of the spirit. It is not a good investment as the flesh will die in this world. It is the passions and desire of the flesh that produces the wage that we all will pay for our sinful behavior, save the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus went to the cross to pay our sin debt, death, that we may be free from the penalty of our sinful living. It is saddening all the people that are destined for hell and there is no reason that they should be. Jesus paid the sin debt of the world and those who end up in hell are not there because of sin, as it has been paid in full by Jesus, they are they because they have rejected God’s free gift of salvation by His grace. For those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior He took their passion and evil desire to the cross with Him and they were crucified with Him. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)

When we have faith in His Word and live in His Lordship through the power of His gift of the Holy Spirit we have the power to put on the new self. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we become sanctified, we mature into the image that we were originally created in, that of God the Creator. It is then that we can let go of a vain perspective of living for this world and live in the resurrection perspective that when we leave this world we will be given an immortal body. If we suffer through this life for Jesus we will be glorified with Jesus. “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Romans 6:5)

I am not trying to over simplify the Christian life. When we accept Jesus into our life we have also gained the attention of the adversary Satan. We are caught in a spiritual battle between good and evil. The purpose of Satan is to destroy us and deny us from God our Father. This is not to scare us as our God is sovereign and Satan is but a creature himself. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)

Our journey through this world will still be filled with trials and we must guard ourselves from further defilement of the sin that can entrap us to unrighteous behavior. We must avoid the old paths that lead into bad behaviors. Still evil thoughts of old will creep in and we must not entertain them. If we don’t quickly put them out they will fester and cause debate. I am often caught in the trap of “just one more time.” I think I must have smoked a million cigarettes just one more time. If we debate that which we know in our heart is wrong, then there is always the probability that we will rationalize ourselves into error. Stop it before the Devil can gain a stronghold and tempt you away from the truth. “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” (2 Peter 2:20)

We are living in two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. One world has nothing of eternal profit and everything that will lead you to destruction. There is nothing in this world that will lift you out and if you live for the physical world you will die with the physical world. The spiritual world of the Kingdom of God lifts you towards it. Everything in God’s Word lifts you towards His Kingdom. It is there you were created to live and fellowship with the Father. It is there that Jesus has prepared a place especially for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)

If we have put off the old self, then let us walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Walking in His power is submitting to His life living through us. It is not our work but the work of God working through us. I in myself am not a loving person but the fruit of the Spirit that resides within me is. I am not joyful or peaceful, I have little patience, I struggle to be kind and by myself I am not good, I lack faith, gentleness and self-control, but the fruit of the Spirit that resides within me is. If I allow myself to be led by the Spirit, then the Spirit bears His fruit through me. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Christians profess to walk by Christ and they should display the attributes of the One who they are to reflect. It is not the old self but the new self that is ever growing to the image of God their Creator. “And have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” (Colossians 3:10) It is a life long journey of growing spiritually into the role model for our everlasting life. We will reach that measure of standard, as our Lord and Savior Jesus has promised we shall live in His righteousness. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant February 22, 2017

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