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Faithlife

Reversing Racism

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The W's and H of Worship  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:04
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Nothing short of union with Christ in his death and resurrection can reverse racism.

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In light of the racial problems dividing our nation right now, I thought it necessary I gave you a clear Word from the Lord. Next week we will get back to our series on the Solas of the Reformation. However, this message does give me the opportunity to illustrate once again the importance of Sola Scriptura. I have heard reports of ministers, even within the PCA, delivering ideological rants rather than sermons last week. I realize emotions are high, but this is all the more reason to listen to the voice of God, rather than the voice of man.
So let us hear his voice this morning. Turn with me to Colossians 3:1-17.
Colossians 3:1–17 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The first thing I want to point out to you from this text is that...

The Problem is Much Worse than Most Imagine

In verses 5-8, Paul paints a picture of humanity’s fallen condition.
Colossians 3:5–8 ESV
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
The thing we must all come to grips with is the depth of sin within each of us. We will make no progress against racism (or any other sin for that matter) until we can say with the apostle Paul:
Romans 7:18 ESV
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
This is powerfully illustrated in the “one side - both sides” debate between President Trump and the mainstream media. What both the President and his critics can’t imagine is that “all sides” (including themselves) are to blame. The Scripture reveals to us a powerful matrix of sin consisting of the world, the flesh and the devil. Sin doesn’t just have a grip on our individual souls, but is a world-wide system of sin the Bible calls the “world.”
1 John 2:15–17 ESV
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
This world system of evil is not just the sum total of all individual human sin, but it much greater and more powerful—it gives sin a level of social exceptionable it would not otherwise have, thus tempting us to sin in ways we might not otherwise do.
A dramatic illustration of this truth took place a little over 50 years ago, when Israeli agents captured Adolph Eichmann, one of the masterminds of the Nazi holocaust, and brought him to Israel to stand trial for his crimes.
Among the witnesses called to testify against Eichmann was a small, haggard man named Yehiel Dinur. He had survived brutal torture in the death camp at Auschwitz. Dinur entered the courtroom and he stared at the man who had presided over the slaughter of millions— including many of Dinur’s own friends.
As the eyes of the victim met those of the mass murderer, the courtroom fell silent. Then, suddenly, Dinur literally collapsed to the floor, sobbing violently.
Was he overcome by hatred? By memories of the stark evil that Eichmann had committed?
No. As Dinur explained later in a riveting interview on “60 Minutes,” what struck him was that Eichmann did not look like an evil monster at all; he looked like an ordinary person. Just like anyone else. In that moment, Dinur said, “I realized that evil is endemic to the human condition—that any one of us could commit the same atrocities.”
In a remarkable conclusion, Dinur said: “Eichmann is in all of us.”
If our individual depravity and the world system of evil was not bad enough, there lays behind it all demonic forces stoking the fires of sin. In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul reminds his readers who the real enemy is.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
So you see, the problem of racism is much worse than most imagine. This is why we need a solution that is more radical than most imagine.

The Solution is More Radical than Most Imagine

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul points his readers to the death and resurrection of Jesus as the solution to the sin problem. By virtue of our union with Christ we participate in his death and resurrection. Why does Paul continually do this? It is because the sin problem is so serious, nothing short of killing the sinner and raising him or her to life again will work! No amount of legislation or reform will solve the problem of racism (or any other social or moral problem).
The world, the flesh and the devil cause of flood of depravity. We here in Western PA are familiar with floods this summer! Think of an overflowing farm pond. The water is flowing over the dam in numerous places. You can repair the leaks in one section, only to find the water is overflowing or undermining the dam in another. That is the way it is with sin. When left to our own human strength, if we morally reform ourselves in one area we will find that sin spills over in another. This is way we can’t look to Washington to reverse the curse of racism, we must look to heaven.
Notice that the first thing Paul tells us to do is look to Christ who is seated in heaven:
Colossians 3:1 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
By looking to Christ in faith, we participate in His death and resurrection. This alone has the power to overcome sin and create true righteousness. Paul explains it to the Roman church this way:
Romans 6:6–7 ESV
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
This looking to Christ in faith is no “Easy Believism,” in which a person merely raises their hand “while all heads are bowed and eyes shut,” but a life-long looking to Christ in faith. This means that...

The Application is More Demanding than Most Imagine

There are three things Paul tells his readers they must do if they to apply the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to our lives. The first is...

Set Our Minds on Our New Identity in Christ

We see this in verses 1-2:
Colossians 3:1–2 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
As one theologian famously put it, “We must become, what we already are.” The world, the flesh and the devil are all working to convince us that we are still slaves to selfish desires, lusts and the pride fuels our sins, to combat this we must learn to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ.
I find it interesting that the events of last weekend centered around a statue of Robert E. Lee.
Robert E. Lee was a very devout Christian, in so many areas of his life he “set his mind on things that are above,” but on the area of slavery and race he too often “looked to earthly things.” He ideas about blacks were informed more by the world, than by heaven.
I hope you take to heart this illustration from Robert E. Lee’s life. Not so you can pat yourselves on the back and say, “I am so glad that I am a better Christian than he,” but so that you look for those areas in your life where you are not looking towards “Christ who is seated in heaven.”
When you find them, you must...

Put to Death What is Earthly

This is found in verses 5-9:
Colossians 3:5–9 ESV
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
By earthly, Paul is not referring to the physical earth, but to that matrix of sin we spoke about earlier—the world, the flesh and the devil. Think of it this way, if it is not fit for heaven, it is earthly. We see examples of what is earthly in these verses. To this list we could add racism. We can put to death sin, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In my illustration of the farm pond dam, the only hope to repair the dam is to stop the flood of rain. When Christ died he defeated the world, the flesh and the devil—the flood is no longer out of control. By the Lord’s strength we can for the first time plug the holes in our sin sick souls. Without question, “putting to death what is earthly” demands concerted effort on our part, but it is more an act of faith, than effort. This is because the power behind the effort is not ourselves, but Christ. When Paul begins to teach about fighting the world, the flesh and the devil, he begins with these words:
Ephesians 6:10 ESV
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
By the Lord’s strength we can attack and put to death sin! However, It is not enough to put to death sin, we must replace it with something else. You must...

Put on Your Heavenly Identity

In Matthew’s gospel we find this sobering teaching by Jesus.
Matthew 12:43–45 ESV
43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”
This does not just apply to demons, but everything that is earthly. It is not enough to put to death our earthly identity, we must put on our heavenly identity.
Hear again what Paul teaches us in his letter to the Colossians:
Colossians 3:10 ESV
10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Paul goes on to list a whole host of heavenly virtues.
Colossians 3:12–14 ESV
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
It is this perfect harmony that our nation needs to heal its racial divides. It has been 152 years since the Civil War and 45 years since Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment and as we saw last weekend our nation does not enjoy “perfect harmony.” The harmony some strive for is a false harmony—just because people treat each other in socially accessible ways does not mean they forgive and love one another. As the apostle John reminds us true love comes only from God:
1 John 4:7 ESV
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
The only way to truly love is to be born of God and know God, and the only way to be born of God and know Him is by faith in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to Reverse the Sin of Racism in our Nation.
Let us pray:
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