Stephen Caswell © 1999
Practice Makes Perfect
Quarterback Tony Rice led Notre Dame's football team to a national championship in 1988. Before the season, sportswriters wondered whether Notre Dame could beat the tough teams with a quarterback like Rice, whose passing often was inaccurate. They didn't know that coach Lou Holtz had bought Rice a dart board and told him to practice throwing darts an hour a day. Rice didn't see how that would help his passing, but he did as his coach said. Soon he began to throw passes with more accuracy and confidence--both of which were evidenced in a banner season. Christians likewise find the practice of sharing a sentence or two of testimony or prayer on a regular basis can sharpen those skills. Any activity will improve with practice.
Three weeks ago we observed how we can have heaven on earth. Paul instructed believers to put into practice what they are in principle. He commanded Christians to seek the heavenly and to slay the earthly. Paul started with the heart and mind because our thoughts and affections determine our lifestyle. Paul then instructed believers to once and for all put off the old clothes. Tonight's passage instructs us to put on the new clothes of righteousness. Paul tells believers to
Strengthen The Christly
This passage speaks of four things believers must appropriate. They are found in His Son.
1. The Grace Of Christ
II. The Peace Of Christ
III. The Word Of Christ
IV.The Name Of Christ
Firstly The Grace Of Christ
Col 3:12-13 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
a. We Have Received God's Grace
We have received God's grace freely. The Lord saved us completely on the basis of His grace and not because of anything that we have done. Through Jesus Christ we have received God's grace in abundance.
1. God Chose Us - The word elect means chosen. He chose to save us, we did not choose Him.
2. God Set Us Apart - The word holy means set apart for God's own use.
3. God Loves Us - Why God loves us is a mystery. As rebellious sinners we don't deserve it.
4. God Forgave Us - God forgave us all of our sins because of Jesus. We have obtained mercy.
b. We Are To Put Grace On
Paul commands believers in the light of all that God has done for us, to put on the graces of Christ. Since we are new creatures in Jesus Christ and members of the same body we are to show this same grace to one another. Because God has been so gracious to us we are to be gracious to one another. In verses 5-9 we looked at the old clothes Paul commanded us to take off once and for all. But so that we won't be unclothed, Paul lists eight gracious garments that believers are to put on. He commands us to put these on once and for all like a set of new clothes. The spiritual graces listed enable us to look past the distinctions of race, religious ritual and social class listed in verse 11. The graces of Jesus Christ are beautiful garments that suit the new man perfectly.
1. Tender mercies - This speaks of tender feelings of compassion. It refers to our hearts. It is a constant attitude of the heart that makes us easy to live with. All believers need this grace.
2. Kindness - It is God's kindness that leads us to repentance. Kindness is love in action. David showed kindness to Mephibosheth. He treated him kindly on the basis of grace and love.
3. Humility - This is the attitude that Jesus Christ showed us perfectly. He knew that He was God yet chose to put others first. He lived amongst mankind not as a king but a servant.
4. Meekness - Meekness is not weakness but power under control. Moses and Christ were both meek yet exercised great authority. Their lives were under the control of the Holy Spirit. A meek person has control of his temperament.
5. Long-suffering - This describes someone with a long fuse. Long-suffering enables someone to be provoked by people or circumstances and not retaliate. They patiently endure difficult people.
6. Forbearance - God shows forbearance toward sinners by holding back His judgment. When someone puts up with another's nonsense they show forbearance.
7. Forgiveness - This word means to pardon or cancel out a debt. It is good when Christians don't retaliate when wronged. But God calls us to do more than this, we must forgive them too. God forgave us in Christ. How can we not forgives our brothers?
8. Love - Paul says to put love on the top off all the other graces. Love holds all eight virtues together. In fact without love the other virtues are impossible. They are the motivating force behind it all.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 a describes this: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Getting Dressed To Go Out
When people go out to an expensive restaurant for dinner they usually get dressed up. They start by putting on their under garments, then their best dress or shirt and pants and then finally their coat goes on last. It keeps them warm and is seen by all. All the garments are needed but the coat is the most important of all. It goes on the top and holds all the other clothes together underneath. Love is like this. It goes on the top and holds all the graces together.
Christians are new creations in Christ. Our lives should be different from others, distinctive. We have received God's grace and therefore we should share it with others. Our conduct ought to be different. Have you removed the grave clothes of your old life? Have you put on the grace clothes of your new life? For Christians to make an impression on the world they must live differently. Jesus said by this will all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another. Do you show Christ's love to others? Have you put on the grace of Christ? Without Christ's love we will never be humble enough to serve. We won't endure with difficult people or circumstances. Without Christ's love we will never bear people's faults or forgive them when they wrong us. All Christians need the grace of Christ in their life. Have you put it on?
II. The Peace Of Christ
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
A Referee At A Football Game
The word rule brabeuetw means to be a judge or umpire at a sporting event. We all love to watch football. It's great to see the two teams pit their skills against one another. Its even better if your team wins, but that's not the important thing, is it? It's just great to see them play. Just ask my wife? But every football game involves more than just the two teams. The three referees are very important. They make sure that the teams play by the rules. They penalize the players who break them. This is needed or you would have chaos on the field. They keep the peace between the opposing sides. You might say it's the referees that make rugby the friendly game that it is.
a. Let God's Peace Rule
The second command Paul gives concerns peace. Today, everyone is searching for peace. But they are looking for it in the wrong place. When believers put on the grace of Christ it helps to bring unity to the Church fellowship. Paul's command is for God's peace to rule in our hearts. How do Christians know when they are obeying God's will? One way God reveals this is through His peace. Christians obeying God's word and praying for His guidance will know His peace. When we make a wrong decision either ignorantly or willfully, God removes His peace. Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
How do we correct this? By confessing our sin and returning to the path God wants us to walk. God's peace rules our hearts since it will either confirm or condemn our actions at any given time. When God gives His peace to each believer we will also have peace in our Churches. People that have God's peace are thankful. They cannot be anything but this. If you aren't thankful and lack peace in your life then you are out of God's will.
God brings peace into our lives and our Churches by ruling as umpire. God is not biased toward any individual. He knows about every member in the body and wants them to work together in unity. When we obey God's will for us, He gives us His peace. Do you have God's peace in your life? Or are you disobeying God's will for you? There may be a relationship with another believer or member of your family that needs to be reconciled. Are you involved in something that you know that God would not approve of? Perhaps you have made a choice regarding your job that is not God's will for you. Is this your situation? Then can I encourage you to put it right with the Lord today. You will not have peace until you confess it to Him and do it God's way.
III. The Word Of Christ
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
a. Let Christ's Word Dwell
Paul's third command is to let God's word dwell richly in you. The word dwell ejnoikew means to inhabit, to feel at home with. God's word will transform our lives if we will permit it to dwell in us richly. Jesus emphasized the importance of the word of God when tempted by Satan. It was more important to Christ than food. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Christians need to discover the spiritual treasures of the Word each day. God commanded Joshua to fill his life with God's word. Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Today most Christians neglect God's word to their own peril. They spend hours reading the bad news in the paper and on TV yet only spend a few minutes reading the good news in the Bible. Joshua spent time studying God's word. He meditated on it. He spent time pondering it's deeper truth. He shared it by reading it to others. Then he obeyed it in his daily life. That is what it means to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. I am always finding new things in the word. Are you growing in your knowledge of God through His word? If we don't study the word, how will we know the right way to live? We must learn God's word and obey it. We must also share it.
Teaching is one method. The word teach comes from the root word to learn. How do you know when you have taught someone a lesson? When they have learnt it. Christians are to share what they learn from God's word. We share with others the blessings God has given to us. When you gain new insight into a verse or passage then share it. This doesn't refer to the pastor only. This command is for the whole church to keep. If you don't study God's word yourself then you won't have anything to share, will you? We can all teach spiritual truth's learnt from the word.
Not Enough Study
In an interview, Billy Graham was asked this question: "If you had to live your life over again, what would you do differently?" His answer: "One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough. I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing. Donald Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming in three years, he would spend two of them studying and one preaching. I'm trying to make it up"
The word admonish nouqetew means to warn, to caution, to put in mind. If you see a brother or sister considering something sinful, then gently warn them. It may be that they are going to make a similar mistake that you once made. God's word warns us of dangers in life. We can learn from the mistakes others have made. We can avoid them ourselves. 1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Admonition is the same word in Colossians.
One way we can share God's word is in song. Paul says that the Church should proclaim God's word to each other in song. Christian songs proclaim spiritual truths in a wonderful way. The melody helps us to remember these things more easily. However there is a warning here. Can you discern that what you are singing is correct? If you don't know God's word how can you know if the doctrine taught in the songs are right. This is why there is so much error being taught today in Christian music. Because most Christians don't know God's word they can't judge songs according to it. The great songs of the faith were written by people who knew the doctrines of God's word. Today many so called Christian songs are written by people who have little or no knowledge of God's word. It's dangerous to separate the praise of God from the word of God.
Paul describes three different types of songs in these verses. Psalms refers to the music book of the bible. Originally the Psalms were sung in the worship services. Today many of these songs are being used again. This is good since they come directly from Scripture. Hymns are songs of praise to God written by believers but not taken from the word of God. The church today has a rich heritage of hymns. Many Churches neglect this great wealth. Spiritual songs are expressions of Bible truth other than Psalms or hymns. Spiritual songs address each other. It should not be one or the other in Churches but rather all three. Paul says that all are to be used to teach spiritual truth. Hymns and spiritual songs must be biblically correct. It is just as wrong for a singer to sing a lie as it is for a preacher to preach a lie.
Paul said that we are to sing with grace in our hearts. We are not just to sing empty words that mean nothing to us. We are to sing from the heart. When we have grace in our Hearts we can sing to the lord no matter how difficult our circumstances might be. Paul and Silas were beaten then put in stocks in a Philippian jail, yet they sang praises to God. How? Because they had grace in their hearts. If we have grace in our hearts then we will mean the words that we sing.
After all we are not singing just to ourselves, but to each other and to the Lord. He is the one we are singing to. He is worthy of sincere praise.
Do You Have a Song?
Somehow, about forty percent of churchgoers seem to have picked up the idea that "singing in church is for singers." The truth is that "singing is for believers." The relevant question is not, "Do you have a voice?" but "Do you have a song?" If God has saved us shouldn't we want to sing His praises? It's not how well we sing that matters as much as why we sing. We should sing from grateful hearts to our Savior.
Do you let God's dwell in you richly? We should memorize parts of God's word. Do you meditate on the word? Do you obey it? Are you involved in teaching God's word? Everyone has a testimony to share. All can share what God has taught them. Do you graciously warn believers who are straying? Christian music is a good way to share the word. However it must be based on the word of God. Do you have a song in your heart? Then sing it from your heart!
IV. The Name Of Christ
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
a. Do All In Christ's Name
Paul's final instruction to believers is to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Why? Because we bear His name. It is our identification. We bear the name Christian. This is a great honor. But it also gives us a responsibility. People are watching us to see how we live, what we say. We can either magnify Christ's name or bring shame upon it. Do you share Christ with those at your work? Everything that we say should be edifying and not in any way spoil our witness as a Christian. We should ensure that our works match up to our words. Everything we do should be done for God's glory. This means that we do everything to the best of our ability. Our bosses should see that we are his best workers. People who are conscientious. That always put in their best effort. Because we are Christ's representatives on earth we must be careful to glorify Him.
b. Be Thankful
Wearing Christ's name will sometimes mean suffering but this should not change our stand or behavior. Acts 5:41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. We should rejoice in this and give thanks. This is the third time in three verses that Paul mentions thankfulness. Believers should be the most thankful people in the world. Why? Because God has given us so much. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
The Greatest Virtue
I once read a legend of a man who found the barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart, and on finding the seeds of discouragement more numerous than others, he learned that those seeds could be made to grow almost anywhere. When Satan was questioned, he reluctantly admitted that there was one place in which he could never get them to thrive. "And where is that?" asked the man. Satan replied sadly, "In the heart of a grateful man."
Do you wear Christ's name with pride? When you speak, do you speak as an ambassador for Jesus Christ? Do you do everything to best of your ability as unto Christ? Do you bring shame upon the name of Christ? Are you thankful for all that God has done for you or do you grumble?
Today we have seen four ways that we can strengthen the Christly.
1. The Grace Of Christ - We are commanded to put it on. Since God has given His grace to us, How can we not share it with others around us?
II. The Peace Of Christ - We are commanded to be ruled by it. God's peace is the umpire in our hearts that confirms or condemns our actions. Do you listen to your umpire?
III. The Word Of Christ - We are commanded to be indwelt by it. We must let God's word feel at home in our lives. This involves learning it and sharing it. Do you study the word? Do you memorize it and meditate on it? Do you sing it with grace from the heart?
IV.The Name Of Christ - We are instructed to do all in His name. Do you wear Christ's name with pride? Do you do everything to the best of your ability as unto God?
Because we have experienced the Grace Of Christ, we want to live for Him.
Because we have enjoyed the Peace Of Christ, we want to obey Him.
Because we have been enriched by the Word Of Christ, we want to share Him.
Because we have been ennobled by the Name Of Christ, we want to honor and glorify Him.
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.