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5/27/12 Colossians 3:1-4 “Things Above, Things on Earth, Part 3”
I. What makes this struggle especially difficult
A. The old self still is earth-oriented.
1. Two sides to us: “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:17)
2. It is a war. There is an enemy, whose desire for us is to either be so desperate re: earthly things or so intoxicated with them that we rarely think about heavenly things.
B. Snared by good things
1. The advantage of blatant sins: you know you’re sinning.
2. The older brother and the younger brother of the prodigal son
3. Picnics and ball games and haircuts and shopping and driving in the car and video games and food and homework: the normal, everyday stuff of our lives: these are the kinds of things which often cause us to stumble. Because Jesus doesn’t just want us to not do bad things, He wants us to set our minds on the things above.
4. And there are a lot of people who rarely engage in any bad activities but who also rarely give a thought to the hidden things above — where Christ is.
5. Just because something is earthly doesn’t mean it’s bad. But it’s still something we’re told not to set our minds on.
II. Two case studies
A. Physical appearance
1. 1Pet.3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
B. Money: 1Tim6 the subtle distinction between getting rich and wanting to be rich
1. “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1Timothy 6:6-10)
2. “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1Timothy 6:17-19)
III. The location of your temptation
A. Not everyone longs to be rich. And not everyone is taken up in their physical appearance. But all of us have places where we are tempted to put our heart instead of giving our heart to the Lord.
B. Where on earth are the things you are tempted to give your heart to?
1. Your popularity? Your will being done? Your dreams being fulfilled?
C. It’s not always easy to see it.
D. You know better than I do. I can’t possibly list everyone’s idols.
1. Ask your family if you really don’t know.
2. If they have no answer (which would made me suspect they are just afraid to tell you), then ask yourself this:
a. What gets me irritated? What gets me depressed or discouraged? What do I long for when I am unhappy/in pain?
E. The problem with the classic Christian list of priorities (God, Family, Church, Job)
1. There are two lists, not one. These things don’t belong on the same list.
2. There are two sides of each one of these items, one heavenly and one earthly.
F. We can think much too simplistically about this. E.g.
1. Sports, career, house, clothing, health in earthly category
2. Church, quiet times, the Bible, etc. in heavenly category
IV. Bible helps for resisting the temptations to set your mind on earthly things:
A. You have died. Did you know that?
1. Col.3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Cf. 2:12, 20; Rom.6:2)
2. Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
3. Who you were is now dead. The new you has been raised in your old you's place. (3:1)
4. The world doesn't see who you really are now because they can't see Christ, who’s hidden with God.
5. But just because they don’t see it doesn’t mean you have to be blind to it. You are the King's child, destined for glory, even though you don't look it right now. There’s a day coming of "the glory of the children of God." (Rom.8:21)
6. This isn’t our day of glory. This is our day of patience, when we "groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Rom.8:23)
7. (Who we are ought not be hidden from other believers. We need to learn to look at each other based on what we know is true about each other.)
B. The temptations are lies! What feels like it will give you life will actually give you death.
1. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said there are two roads you could follow: one is wide and easy and popular, but it leads to destruction. The path that leads to life is narrow and hard and unpopular.
2. Going up for air when under water
a. Lungs convulsing within you, wanting to breathe whatever’s out there.
b. But you know breathing what’s out there will kill you. So you refuse to open the channel to your lungs. You refuse to give in to the cry of your lungs. You know what’s true, and you know that what your breathing mechanism is asking you to do leads to death.