Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

A New Wardrobe

Colossians 3:1-14
 

I’d like to take a poll this morning.

 

By a raise of hands, how many of us here today have ever had a vehicle that has rusted in one place or another?

 

Just what I suspected. You can’t live in Maine for more than a year and not experience some sort of rust on your vehicle thanks to the weather and the DOT’s method of salting and sanding the roads to keep us safe. The price we pay for safe roads is the need to fix our rusted cars and trucks.

 

My brother’s truck is a prime example. He was driving home last month from the BIW and his truck split in two. I’m not kidding. The frame rusted out so badly, the truck literally broke in half. Now being the resourceful New Englander, do you think he junked it and bought a new truck? Not on your life! He hauled it into my father’s garage and proceeded to take it apart. Stripping everything off the old frame. He then cut off the rusted pieces completely, and proceeded to weld on new pieces of metal and managed to piece together a brand new frame. Piece by piece. I can pretty much guarantee you, after taking the truck apart, he did not leave so much as a tiny piece of rust before assembling the truck back together. And we all know why. Because it only takes a bit of rust to start eating away at the frame and he would be right back where he started. Thanks to the fallen world we live in, unless he puts energy into keeping the bottom of his truck rust free, with continued maintenance he will have to replace the entire frame again.

 

God’s grace is similar.

 

As we read in Colossians 3, God’s grace enables us to get rid of “the old self”. In fact, Paul writes, “Put to death the part of your old life that is immoral and rid yourselves of it. This is what we mean by the word conversion. When Christ is living in you, we say someone has been converted. Converted from what? To what?

 

What should happen and what does happen are often two different things.

 

I believe what Paul means by “putting to death” the old parts, the immoral parts, is exactly that, DEATH.

Death is separation, no longer alive, no longer able to make problems. My brother’s truck had in all extensive purposes, “DIED”. The rust or immoral part of his truck had taken over. The engine was still running, and there was enough of the thing working that my brother had already invested in, like brake lines and a new carburetor, etc. that he was willing to take the time and effort to rebuild the frame. But in order to make sure his effort was not wasted, he removed ALL the rust. This is what Paul is talking about. When Christ comes into our life, we are supposed to put to death the immoral parts. All of them.

 

You see the problem is, we don’t.

 

Don’t feel too badly, neither did the Colossians. That is why we have this letter. You see, the people in the church of Colossae were trying to live like the world, and like Christ at the same time. They were listening to the philosophers and the cosmic forces of their day and had chosen to give them equal billing with Jesus.

Much like if my brother had decided to leave some rust on the frame of his old truck. We understand that if my brother had left some rust behind it would have made my brother’s effort to fix his problem, worthless.

 

Paul saw this in the church of Colossae and it happens in the church today. Somehow we think, or Satan has convinced us, that we don’t need to rip out all the immorality in our lives. Let’s face it, there are some immoral things we enjoy. So, we either come up with some mode of compromise to allow us to hang on to the immoral behavior or we succumb to the lies “It’s who I am.” or “It is too difficult to change”. I agree with both of those statements.

Yes, It is who YOU were, but with CHRIST in you, you are no longer, JUST YOU. You have been converted, you are a “New Creation”.

 

And “Yes” It is difficult. But again, when Christ is IN YOU, you have the same power in you that raised him from the DEAD, and that power is strong enough to put to death, any immorality. So “let go and let God”.

 

Easier said than done.  

 

That is why we need to keep reading and see what Paul has to say about how this happens.

 

I think it is important to acknowledge the “rust” or the immoral things Paul addresses. First, we need to own our sin, claim it, then we can take it to the cross and give it up. As I read through this list I am asking that each of us take the time, right now, to listen and be honest with ourselves, and God. If you are struggling with anything on this list, admit it. Once you have admitted it, it will be easier to get rid of it.

 
 
 

I like the way Eugene Peterson translates the list, in “The Message” because he sees it not as a simple list of things you can check off “yes or no” he sees it as

“everything connected with that way of death” I’d like to add, “anything that acts like rust” and then he gives some examples:

 

-       Sexual promiscuity

-       Impurity
-       Lust

-       Doing whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it

-       Grabbing whatever attracts your fancy

-       A life shaped by things and feelings, instead of by God

 

He goes on to say:

               

-       Bad temper

-       Irritability
-       Meanness
-       Profanity

-       Dirty talk

-       Don’t lie to one another

 

When Christ is in you, there is a signal to the world and God, that demonstrates Christ is indeed in you, Monday through Saturday, and the signal is,

 

You will be done with the “that old life.”

 

Now, don’t think for one minute I am portraying this as “Easy”. Oh, just get rid of the old and put on the new, 1,2,3. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Even when Christ is in you, it is generally not a miraculous event, though there are some who have been healed that way. For most of us, it is a process, a journey.

 

Paul’s analogy is like getting dressed. Since the first sin, we have been wearing clothes so this analogy works for everyone. It also allows each of us to put a picture in our mind, which scientists have proven, allows us to better remember.

 

The image is this.

Getting rid of the rust in our lives, the things we do that bring about spiritual death, is like a “filthy set of ill-fitting clothes, you stripped off and put in the fire.”

 

God doesn’t leave us naked, he says “Now put on new clothes. And here is the list of things we are to “put on”:

 
-       Compassion
-       Kindness
-       Humility

-       Quiet strength

-       Discipline

-       Be even tempered

-       Content with second place

-       Quick to forgive an offense

-       In fact, forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you

-       And regardless of what else you put on WEAR LOVE, it’s your basic, all-purpose garment NEVER BE WITHOUT IT

 

You see, God isn’t telling us to just “get rid of the bad”, which would leave a gaping hole, or us naked and vulnerable. He says as soon as you have taken off the bad, put on some good. Replace it with what is on God’s heart. What Christ is like. Allow Christ to dress you, so when others see you they see Him.

 

-       Sexual promiscuity

-       Impurity
-       Lust

-       Doing whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it

-       Grabbing whatever attracts your fancy

-       A life shaped by things and feelings, instead of by God

-       Bad temper

-       Irritability
-       Meanness
-       Profanity

-       Dirty talk

-       Don’t lie to one another

 
 

God also wants us to understand, that every new item we are putting on, compassion, kindness, humility, etc. is “custom-made by the Creator” it has His label on it. All the old labels are obsolete.

 

I admit I am clothes label conscience. Not necessarily for fashion sake, but more for conscience sake. You see for me there are some labels that are not worth wearing, based on how they treat their workers who make their clothing. And whether we like it or not there is a hierarchy of label makers according to the world’s standards. Christion Dior, Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor to name a few.

 

We have also put labels on people and placed them in a hierarchy as well, like male/female, white/black, religious/non-religious, insider/outsider, slave/free, gay/straight. Paul writes in Colossians, “from now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. You see, once you place the garment that has the label “Christ/Messiah/God” on the tag, that is what you are to be seen as, “A child of God”.

 

So, let’s get dressed God’s way.

 

Your basic, all-purpose garment, is first. Something like a clean pair of white long johns. These long johns represent “LOVE”. Don’t get dressed without them. One of the names for God is LOVE. And Paul reminds us that if we are in Christ, we need to start with the basics, LOVE and then continue to dress according to what God would wear.

 

Now there are days when we are wearing clothes with the bad labels, “bad temper” or “irritability” along with some good labels, like “compassion”. We know that this side of heaven we will constantly be

working on taking off the ugly garments and putting on the beautiful garments of Christ. But, Paul wants us to remember, our basic, all-purpose garment should be LOVE.

 

So, if you are serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.

 

Pursue the things Christ pursues.

 

Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.

 

Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is.

 
See things from his perspective.
 

Dress like Christ.

 

And regardless of what else you put on, wear love.

 

It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.

 

Never be without it.