2018-11-25 These Put On

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          November 25, 2018

“These Put On”
Colossians 3:12-17

Recall that last week we saw what to put off from our lives (5-11)—in a list well captured by the Apostle John’s words: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16, cf. ibid, 15-17).  We put these things off because we have died, and our life is now hid with Christ—as Paul elsewhere asserts, “I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).  We also put these things off because Christ is our life—no mere part, no mere greatest part, but our life.

Now we need something to replace what we put off from our lives.  Happily, God supplies these things in His Word.  Let us see now what God, and we, shall put on our lives.  Hear now the reading of His inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Remember once again, before we launch into those things to be put on our lives, who we are in Christ.  We are chosen ones, as Paul tells us through the Holy Spirit.  God chose us in Jesus Christ, His Son, by His free, sovereign grace—and, emphatically, by nothing on our part.  Moreover, God chose us in Christ in order that we may experience His inexpressible good—both in life and in eternity.  Also, we are holy ones—ones set apart both in position (from outside Christ to in Christ) and in practice (from ungodly conduct to Godly conduct).  Finally, we are ones beloved of God—and He loves us to a degree that we cannot know just now.  Never forget who we are in Christ—even as we would be clothed with these wonderful qualities from Him.

The first group of things we shall put one involves how we relate to one another in the Body of Christ (12-14).  We put on those qualities which help us to treat another well.  Let us, then, put on compassionate hearts (literally compassions of mercy).  May our hearts fill with compassion for our fellow believer at every appropriate moment.  Let us also put on kindness, doing useful and beneficial deeds for others as God leads and empowers.  Let us put on humility as well–preferring others above self (Philippians 2:3) and looking to their interests as well as our own (ibid, 2:4).  Also, let us put on meekness, or gentleness.  Let us not be harsh with one another (yea, with anyone), but let us show that gentleness enjoined upon us here and elsewhere in Scripture.

Next, let us bear patiently with each other—even forgiving each other.  By patience (Greek makrothumia [makroqumia]), we mean calm in the face of provocations and misfortunes without complaint or irritation.[1]  Like many of the commands God places upon us, there is nothing natural in God’s commands to patience.  We need His Holy Spirit’s power in order to comply.  Yet, by the Lord’s grace, we become increasingly patient—and increasingly inclined and able to forgive when wronged.  Remember, we are first forgiven by God—and that to staggering degree.  Let us, unlike the unmerciful servant in Jesus’ parable, forgive others—especially our fellow believers—their lesser offenses against us (cf. Matthew 18:21-35).  Putting on patience, forbearance, and forgiveness pleases our God and blesses others.

We next put on love (Greek agape [agaph]) each other.  Jesus said, on the night of His betrayal, “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you are to love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:34-35).  Let us then love our fellow believer as Jesus’ loves us—with sacrificial service, deep affection, and similar in like manner as Jesus, though to like degree be impossible to us.  The world will know we are Christ’s disciples by this.  They will not know us to be His by our wealth, or by our scholarly attainments, or by anything else save our love one for another.  Yet, if we love one another, the world will know that we are His—and some will want to be His also.

Now we put on some things that further display life properly ordered under the reign of our living Lord (15-17).  First, let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.  His peace brings absence of hostility between God and ourselves.  It also mollifies any strife between ourselves and others.  Christ’s peace also works in us that inner tranquility that passes all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).  Jesus’ peace, not as the world gives, gives He unto us (John 14:27).

Second, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.  This happens as we get God’s Word into our souls in volume and as we meditate deeply and at leisure upon it.  Then we wield God’s Word to teach and to warn each other in all wisdom from Him.  Conversely, we receive the teaching and warning of other believers in all Christian wisdom.  The word (or message) of Christ obviously dwells deeply within us as we sing unto His Name—and that by psalms, hymns of praise to God, and songs of Christian spiritual import.  Indeed, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Third, do everything, whether word or deed, in Jesus’ Name.  Consecrate every deed, word, thought, and motive to Him and to His glory.  Sometimes we may struggle to know—even as we pray and study Scripture—whether a deed, thought, etc., of ours be sin or not.  Here is one helpful question to ask: Can I glorify God by it?  If not, then definitely avoid the doing of the thing.  Let everything we do, think, say, and intend be with a view to the glory of God and to the good of others.

We are to give thanks, moreover, in all things (1 Thessalonians v.18)—including in letting Christ’s peace rule, in letting the Word of God dwell in us richly, and in doing everything to the glory of God.  Indeed, let us also put on thanksgiving, in order that we more and more resemble Christ—and that He may be glorified in all things, for this is our chief end.

It is not enough to remove the things of the earth—as listed in Colossians 3:5-11.  We must seek and set our minds on the things above.  We must put on new things in place of the old things.  Yet we cannot do these in our own strength; we need strength from on high.  We need, to quote Scottish Presbyterian preacher Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), the expulsive power of a new affection.  We need by the power of God to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24), and in its place we need to display the fruit of the Spirit—for against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).  By the power of the risen Christ, then, let us put off the old and put on the new.

AMEN.

[1] For this definition, as for definitions of Greek words generally, I am indebted to Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).

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