Several things happened as I started praying about what to share in my sermon today. First, I knew I should share something personal. I’ve been reading a devotional book on prayer that has excepts from Andrew Murray. He said we don’t just improve our prayer life to experience the power of God. Instead, we must have a complete renewal of heart and mind. This made me think of Colossians 3.
Additionally, I’ve been reviewing my notes since we moved to Flagstaff. We’ve been emphasizing the gospel a lot! It made me think of a helpful illustration. The gospel is like a rare gem and we’re like a gemologist, marveling at endless sides. Ephesians 3 talks about the gospel as God’s multi-faceted wisdom. The gospel is the most awesome gem, kept hidden but now revealed for us to marvel at all its wonderful angles. We’ve been looking at different aspects of the gospel.
Today, we are going to continue marveling at aspects of the gospel of Christ by talking about the Gospel of Renewal. We’re going to look at Colossians, mainly chapter 3, which has two main points of contrast.
Warning: Colossians 3 offers a double-edged sword. If you don’t see the gospel, it hits you like a blunt instrument. If you do, you get the best kind of renewal—renewal with conviction!
Read: Colossians 3:1-4
(1) Much Greater, not lesser thoughts
As we’ve already been talking, particularly in Romans 12 studies, we’re called to think better, higher, more noble, more inspiring, more uplifting, even more satisfying thoughts!
Another brother I have great respect for always analyzed Scripture and issues by getting to the main why. I love the why in this passage.
Why are we called to much greater thoughts? Because…
(a) you have been raised with Christ — you get to be with Him where He is!
(b) God sees Christ when He sees you! That is the hope of glory talked about in chapter 1.
(c) Christ is your life—your rhyme, reason, purpose, force, strength, etc.!
(d) You will appear with Christ in glory! Luke 21:27 (NIV)”At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
These reasons should fuel us to think higher, noble thoughts! To realize our destiny is in greater thoughts.
Although this passage doesn’t totally answer it, it’s a good question to ask whether our hobbies are too distracting from having nobler thoughts. When is it too much? This passage just calls us to higher thoughts, it doesn’t leave room for lesser thoughts. It actually says not to think about worldly things. We don’t want to create a false understanding here by leaving room for other thoughts. But obviously we have jobs and hobbies. The issue with the Colossians was that their philosophies brought Christ down or made Him less in their minds. That was the danger of their false doctrine.
We’ve been talking about “taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ.” We’ve been talking about how we need to rely on God in prayer and study of His word to change our hearts, so that sin doesn’t entice us as much (James 1). If we’re passive, not proactive, then our thoughts remain and our hearts vulnerable.
For these reasons, we are called to a proactive march to seek after and to set our mind on what is above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your mind, or as a commentator translates it, “set your affections” on what is above, not on earthly things.
Proverbs 25:2 — it’s the glory of God to conceal a matter, but to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
What are the things? We don’t need to get into all the worldly thoughts. We spend enough time thinking about those. Colossians talks a lot about the higher things of Christ (esp. 1:15-23).
How you seek after Christ shows how you view Him. Glory of kings to seek out the gems! Do you seek after Jesus like He is a boring Ned Flanders, or do you seek Jesus as the greatest man, greatest leader, friend, brother, and King to ever walk this earth?
Proverbs 25:2 has been a motivating idea for me for as long as I can remember studying the Scriptures. Why would God keep something hidden? That sounds like He’s messing with us. You will find the wisdom is in the spiritual character you develop in asking your questions and relying on God for answers. Do you search out a matter? Are you like Jacob, who wrestled with God? Are you like Elijah who waited patiently and attentively to see God’s glory? Do you even ask questions (personal, objective, cultural, historical, philosophical, etc) when you study Scripture? Do you have questions that you withhold from God? Do you memorize Scripture?
We are talking about the Gospel of Renewal. C.S. Lewis talks about constantly having a renewed view of Jesus because He is so high and holy. Jesus is that gem of the gospel with endless sides to marvel at.
As one of my mentors, Bill Moulden, often said, “Where the mind goes, the man follows.” That gets us into where our thoughts lead us, which we will talk about here in our second point.
Read Colossians 1:5-14.
(2) It’s Renew, not Re-Old
This passages alludes to an illustration of changing clothes. Although it says putting off, and we need to constantly deal with sin, the first part says we put to death. We’re not leaving ourselves open to putting the sin on again. We don’t leave the old clothes around. We through them into the fire.
Verses 10-11 talk about renewal, where we go from the old man to the new man. This renewal is an experience of having a passionate relationship with God. We love God and put on these things, putting on love and letting the peace of Christ guard our hearts and minds. It’s a very secure relationship with God.
Whereas the opposite is lukewarmness. Revelation 3, God expresses His dislike for lukewarmness. Why does God dislike lukewarmness, besides the fact that it is so boring? Because we can trick ourselves into thinking we’re okay when BAM, it becomes obvious we’re not. In relationship, so many married couples trick themselves and everyone else for years of lukewarmness. One thing I love about my marriage is that we have kept the heat. It hasn’t always been great, but we make an effort to keep the passion by getting help when we need to and resolving and asking one another’s forgiveness. We continue to need help and we got the help we needed over the years, and it has made a significant difference.
This renewed man, which gives us a relationship of renewal is also characterized by the word dwelling richly within us. In order to let the word dwell richly, we need the word in all forms. Profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2Timothy 3:16
“The Giant in front of you is never bigger than the God inside of you.”
Hopefully this encourages you—puts courage and spiritual fuel into you—where you can leave here more fired up to think higher and always be renewed!