Is Christ Your Life?
SERMON TYPE: EXPOSITORY Chad Williams Box 147
Title: Is Christ Your Life?
Text: Colossians 3:1-4
Sub/Comp: The reality of the gospel implies obedient response to commands which render Christ as supreme in the life of the believer.
Proposition: We must make Christ first place in our lives.
Speaker’s Purpose: I want to challenge my listeners to make Jesus Chris first place in their lives because it is the only appropriate response to believers’ position in Christ.
Interrogative: Why is it so important to make Christ first place in our lives?
Transition: There are three foundations reasons in our passage that explain why making Christ first place in our lives is so important.
I decided about a year ago that I would spend my last year at college at home with my parents. Because our house is only about a mile from campus, it seemed that it would not only be a great opportunity to spend extra time with my parents, but also a great convenience in many ways – and indeed it was both. However, as you know, this has been no average winter, weather-wise. Now, when I decided to live at home, I realized that I would now have a short drive into school instead of a short walk (or run) from the guys’ dorm. Yet, I did not initially account for winter weather and a buried vehicle affecting my morning routine. Because of this, I found myself on more than one occasion, running out the door several minutes before first hour class, only to find my car buried in a either a heap of snow or covered in ice. Not having adequate time to clear my windshield, I found myself scraping a hole, just big enough to see what was right ahead of me. Obviously, this was not the safest way to get to school in the morning. Without a clear focus or perspective, I was at best, hoping and praying to make it to my destination on time and alive!
How often is our focus not clearly established in life? If we’re honest, we often don’t even realize when our focus is off, because it is off. We have a very clear and established priority in life, but this often becomes clouded by all of the ideas, concerns, and pursuits of the world we live in. Like my windshield in the morning, we sometimes fail to affectively “clear” these things away, revealing to us what is the primary focus.
The book of Colossians confronts the believer who is not rightly focused on Jesus Christ. Paul, though not the founding pastor of the church of Colossae, had heard that these believers had some misunderstandings regarding Christ and counters false teaching with a message that dominates the entire epistle – the message we see spelled out in 1:18– that Jesus Christ is preeminent!
Throughout the entire book, Paul addresses two primary spheres in which we are to demonstrate the immeasurable superiority of Christ. In the first half of the book, he explains how we must Meditate on the Preeminence of Christ in our Minds, while in the latter half he demonstrates how we must Model the Preeminence of Christ in our Lives.
Yet, as he makes the shift between the two sections, we find the first few verses of chapter three as a pivotal bridge in the shift of flow. This shift was initiated in 2:6 when Paul explains how the gospel relates to Christian living.
He says, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” Paul is saying that the same way you were saved – by faith alone, through grace alone, offering nothing of value to God to gain His approval, but only the precious blood of Christ…is the same way you now live your life – by faith alone through grace alone!
In 3:1-4, Paul shows us what the gospel really means to us – that the message of the gospel does not stop at evangelization, but merely starts there! He shows us that we do not just become Christians through making a decision and then go about our normal lives – but this radical belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ changes us forever. Paul gives us the implications – or expectations of our salvation we have received. In this, Paul demonstrates the true focus of believers by sharing the truth that believers must make Christ first place in their lives. Friends, Jesus Christ must be the dominating focus of our lives.
Arg: But really, why should we make Christ preeminent in our lives right now, while on this earth? Can we not wait until heaven? This world has so many things that we love, that we cling to. Making Christ first place would mean that He would take over my life and possibly change everything; so, why is it so important to make Christ first place right now?
Trans: Well, our passage today gives three foundational reasons why making Christ first place in our lives is so important for believers.
I. Because it is our natural obligation. (3:1-2)
Exp: As mentioned, Colossians 2:6 in many ways foreshadows 3:1-4 which becomes an appropriate segue from the doctrinal, focusing on the mindset to the practical, focusing on lifestyle. 2:6 explains how believers are to live their Christian lives the same way it all began. In 3:1-4, Paul explains how a life committed to Christ is merely living in light of the reality of one’s position in Christ.
Exp: “If” in v. 1 does not imply any amount of uncertainty – that is, unless you are unsaved. Paul is talking to believers whom he already stated in 2:12 had been raised. All throughout this epistle, particularly in chapter 2, Paul utilizes the language of death, life, dying, and being raised – all being together and joint with Jesus Christ.
· In 2:12, Paul mentions that they have been buried with Christ in baptism.
· He continues with this thought saying that they have, likewise, been raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
· The following verse (v. 13) mentions how they as believers were once dead in their trespasses, but that God has sense made them alive together with Him.
· In his argument against the legalistic commands being imposed upon the church by heretical teachers, Paul proclaims in 2:20 that because they have died with Christ, they do not need to subject themselves to such regulations.
Exp: This idea that Paul gives in 3:1 of being “raised with Christ” is reminiscent of the believer’s salvation, when he was quickened or made alive to a new way of living (Eph. 2). This new “resurrected life” gives the believer a union with Christ which the apostle goes to great lengths to describe here in this passage.
Ill: We just had resurrection Sunday a week ago, three days after Good Friday, where we attended our extension ministries and gloried in the resurrection of our Savior. We must remember, however, that Christ did not die, be buried, and rise alone – but because of our oneness in Him, we share in those actions.
Exp: Paul is saying that since or because you have been raised – or co-resurrected up with Jesus Christ, we should naturally live a certain way. He demonstrates that salvation is more than escaping hell fire and having a place in heaven. Like so many authors of scripture, Paul shows how the believer cannot simply lack biblical behavior. The genuine believer who makes Jesus Christ Lord of his life will naturally act a certain way as described in 3:1-2. This reality of being risen with Christ, along with what is to come in v. 3, is the grounds for the command Paul is about to give.
Exp: Thus, Paul’s argument throughout the book finds its climax here in these verses. After clearly displaying the preeminence of Christ throughout the first chapter and what it means regarding their relationship to Christ, Paul now explains how these realities practically affect the believer in his everyday lifestyle.
Trans: In doing so, the apostle gives two commands that should naturally flow out of the life that has been “raised with Christ.”
A. Seek after the things of Christ. (v. 1)
Exp: We are to seek after things “above” as the text says. The reference to these “higher” things is explained in the text to exist “where Christ is seated on the right hand of God.” Now, while the idea of Christ being on the right hand of God should be seen as an idiom referring to a position of high status, we know that Christ is literally in Heaven. We further know from this verse that we have been “raised with Christ.” This verse, then, implies something about the true home of believers.
App: As Paul put it in Philippians, “our citizenship is in heaven.” Peter expressed that as believers, we are strangers and pilgrims in a foreign land.
We must remember, friends, that in this world and on this earth, we are only travelers on a journey. “This world is not our home…we’re but passing through.”
Ill / App: We should be longing for our true home as you do after a long road trip or after spending several weeks in a foreign country, missing your homeland. After traveling for days, sleeping in motel rooms, we all long for our own bed and our own pillow to sleep on. College students so often yearn for their own home, their home church, their own family. Yet, friends, are we longing for the things above? Are we longing for heaven? Do we yearn for those things of an eternal realm, those things we cannot always see or touch, yet those which have true value in the life to come?
B. Meditate upon the things of Christ. (v. 2)
Exp: However, we are also commanded in v. 2 to set our affection on things above, not on the earth. This furthers the thoughts of v. 1. You see, not only must we be actively longing for Christ, we must also have our minds set on these things.
Exp: What are affections? The word used literally means to “set your mind” on something. It could be explained as someone’s disposition or innermost desire. Generally speaking, these are what you think about. In reality, however, they are what you truly are.
Proverbs 4:23 warns us to literally be a “watchman” over our hearts, for out of our hears proceed our living. Without exception, the inward reality of our hearts always becomes outwardly visible in our lifestyle. This is why Paul spends half of the book focusing on the Colossians’ thinking.
App: The entire message of Colossians centers on this idea. The Colossians had become familiar with a philosophy that did not ignore Jesus Christ, but merely dethroned Him as supreme Lord in their minds. However, when Christ is dethroned in our hearts – when He is no longer preeminent (though he may even be prominent), it will inevitably affect our living! We must set our minds and hearts on the things of Christ.
App: Where are your affections? What seems to captivate your mind much of the day? Such temporal thoughts and desires may not necessarily be sinful, although they may very well be. However, Christ’s words in Matthew 6 challenge the believer to have a different though process than the world (Matthew 6:25-34). Following his challenge to not seek after those temporal things which the Gentiles seek after, He says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When our focus is on the eternal, God will provide for the temporal. The believer who has meditated on the preeminence and sufficiency of Christ will respond with affections and desires that are Christ-centered.
Prop: Believers, we must make Christ first place in our lives. All other pursuits and desires must be set aside. He must be the dominating focus, nothing else will do.
Trans: However, we should live this way not only because it is our natural obligation, but also because it is consistent with our salvation.
II. Because it is consistent with our salvation. (v. 3)
Exp: After giving the two commands of vv. 1-2, Paul explains why this type of behavior should only be natural in the life of the believer. Living in the heavenlies should be the norm for the Christian. Then, in verse 3, he gives the grounds or basis for the commands. This is found in two realities evident in the life of every believer.
A. Believers have died with Christ. (3a)
Exp: We are given the reason or basis of these commands. First, as we saw, we are to live this way because we have been risen with Christ. However, Paul reiterates this truth from a different perspective in v. 3 by stating – do this, “because you are dead.”
Exp: In order to understand this death, it is crucial that we remember importance of Paul’s language of death/ life, burial/ rising throughout the letter. The common thread throughout this language is the fact of 1:27 – that Christ is in the believer. 2:6-7 state that believes live their Christian lives the same way they were saved – rooted and built up in Christ. 2:10 state that believers are filled up in Christ, and 3:4 affirms that when it is all said and done, Christ, indeed, is the essence of life to the believer.
Therefore, we cannot disconnect this death of the believers from that which they experience with Christ (2:12, 20). This is a past event where the believer was united with Christ in His death at the point of the Christian’s conversion (although some believe this occurs at one’s baptism). This death is in regards to sin’s condemnation over the believer, as Christ’s death freed mankind from its penalty. However, this death furthermore causes a complete break between the believer and his former life. This death has loosened believers from their ties to earthly things.
Ill / App: We have all witnessed death before. I remember coming home from summer camp in my elementary years only to find my beloved friend and hamster, Rascal lying motionless in his cage. No longer would I watch him run around his smelly cage. No longer would I need to fill up his water bottle. No longer would I hear the annoying squeak of his running wheel in the early hours of the morning! His death implied a cessation of activity. Our death to the things of this world, likewise, implies a radical change from our former way of living – from the way our neighbors and unsaved family act. This is why the apostle expects the Colossians to “put off” the old self and “put on” those things mentioned in 3:12-4:1.
Trans: However, the basis for the believer’s need to seek heavenly things and keep their minds focused on that which is eternal not only rests on the reality of their death with Christ, but also on the fact that believers are hidden with Christ.
B. Believers are hidden with Christ. (3b)
Exp: The idea of being “hidden with Christ” holds two primary facts regarding the believer:
1. They are concealed from this world.
Exp: Because the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection in Christ is all of spiritual nature, the outside world cannot know of or understand the reality of their true position. Indeed, their lives are “in Christ” as He is the entire essence of their existence; however, they are “hidden with Christ.” In fact, the reality of Christ in this universe is hidden from this world as well. They do not see sovereignty in every situation. They do not realize how intricately He is involved. Therefore, when believers find “new life” in Christ, it becomes but a mystery to the outside world looking on. To them, this kind of spiritual language is foolishness.
2. They are secured in their faith.
Exp: Yet, while this world may not be able to see the realities of his life in Christ, the believer enjoys complete security in Christ as he is “hidden” with Him. The believer is safe and secure in the shelter of Jesus Christ, protected from all spiritual foes. 1 Peter 1:4 speaks of our inheritance which is reserved in heaven. The believer may experience outside persecution, brought about those from whom his life is hidden; however, God will keep Him safe within His loving arms.
App: This is why the terminology Paul uses throughout the epistle is so important for us. You see, the entire grounds for our making Christ our entire focus is found in the fact that we have died, been buried, and have risen with Christ in a new live. Indeed, “old things are passed away.” If we live any other way than one which seeks and longs for heavenly things and focuses on eternal things, the we are living a life inconsistent with our position in Christ.
Prop: Because we have died, been buried, and have risen with Christ, we must, therefore, make Jesus Christ the dominating focus of our lives.
Trans: Yet, we not only should commit to this because it is our natural obligation or because it is consistent with our salvation, but we should live this way because we are given the ultimate motivation.
III. Because we are given the ultimate motivation. (v. 4)
Exp: The final motivation is given in v. 4. We are given the anticipation of appearing with Jesus Christ in our glorified bodies for all of eternity. Truly, no other motivation can compare to this reality! In fact, every motivation given throughout the remainder of the book centers on the Person of Jesus Christ.
Exp: Yet, this verse also ties together what the believer must realize about the Person of Jesus Christ – the One Whom we expect to see someday in Heaven. He is not merely a way to get to heaven. He is not merely a helpful guide throughout life. He is not merely someone we are supposed to get to know and spend time with to please God. He is our LIFE!
App: As we conclude, the simple question must be asked of each of us this morning – “Is Christ your life?!”
Paul had proclaimed to the Philippians in 1:21 – “For to me, to live if Christ!”
This reality makes perfect sense if we remember that we have died, have been buried, and have risen along with Jesus Christ. As Paul told the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
App: Our motivation for making Christ preeminent in our lives closely parallels the grounds for the commands Paul gave us. At our conversion, we exchanged our old life for a new one, a heavenly one – one which is hidden from the world, yet secured in Christ. However, this life is not only closely connected to Jesus Christ, in that we are “Christians,” but we, in essence, are so interconnected with Christ that He has become the essence of our existence. He is our life.
So what do you really believe about Jesus Christ? Can you honestly say that He is what you long for – that He is what your thoughts are focused on? In short, is Jesus Christ the very essence of your life?
If you find yourself having a hard time with these questions, your problem stems back to one of two things: (1) Either you’re failing to live according to the reality of the gospel as given in verses 1 and 2 or (2) You have never actually been buried and risen with Jesus Christ to begin with. Paul’s message is that believer’s will keep Christ preeminent in their lives. This is where we should find our true focus as believes. How about you?