Colossians 1:3-23 ESV 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
We’re gonna focus our attention on Verses 9 through 14 this morning, so you can draw your eyes to that part of this passage, it’s a prayer of Paul for his people in class, people that our best understanding he has never met. Which is fascinating to me. We think that Paul writes this letter to Colossi, having visited that region, going to emphasis, but class was a smaller city, and he didn’t hit that one. And in all likelihood, Epaphras also called a Epaphroditus in the Bible pauses probably a nickname, heard the Gospel in Ephesus from Paul and went home to close and fumbled his way through establishing a church. A small group of believers, they heard his testimony, and all we know about Epaphrus that he was a faithful minister, we don’t know that he was the ongoing pastor there, although that might be… We do know that he was the ongoing prayer warrior there, that’s mentioned several times, his prayer and his labor in prayer on behalf of the believers there. And so Paul, probably hearing reports of Epaphrus and this church that started up, his heart is drawn to it, ’cause he loves it when little pockets of new creation pop up in different cities.
And so he writes a letter to them that would then be distributed throughout the region, this particular part of the prayer I chose for this morning, because if you’re anything like me, the new year becomes a season when you evaluate around the New Year… Who was I last year? Am I the same person as I was last year? And who do I think God wants me to be in the coming year? And how can I intentionally pursue those things? And so as I evaluate those things each year, year after year, my goal is that I wanna say, You know, I’ve grown as a Christian, I’ve grown in my righteousness, I’ve grown in my patients, I’ve grown in my love, I’ve grown in my understanding of the word of God, my understanding of who God is, I’ve grown in my prayer life, I’ve done the crown as a father, I’ve grown as a husband, I’ve grown as a past or whatever those things might be. I’m asking the question, and I’m hoping that the answer will be yes, I’ve taken steps forward this last year, and so here’s the reality, if you just coast through life in your relationship with God, and you do not make intentional will full efforts to grow in your faith, you likely won’t… You’ll look back and 20 years will have gone by and you’ll say, I’m the same as I was 20 years ago, and the emphasis of this passage here is definitely growth, it’s bearing fruit. It’s development, it’s becoming more and more like Christ. And I think that is the emphasis of the Word of God, and this is true for you here this morning, whether you’re in our service, in your three…
I think we have maybe not three or four years old, if you’re three or four years old this morning, you can raise your hand… Anyone? Okay, yeah, there you go. And all the way up to, if you’re 83, 93, 103. The reality is, the Christian life is one of spiritual growth, it’s not one of perfection, it’s one of progress, and if you keep your eyes fixed on the progress, you offer up your progress to God, and he and his wonderful love for us looks at us, knows that we are imperfect creatures, but we’re covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, and if we’ve made efforts for growth, he receives those through the blood of Jesus Christ as acceptable sacrifices to him. It’s a wonderful gift. It’s a wonderful gift. So today, I wanna offer you a kind of three-part plan for your particular area of growth this year, and they each begin with W. The first one is a little bit forced. You’ll have to forgive me for that. But hopefully, you’ll remember it. Okay, so the first one will be that you need to renew your wits or your mind, the second one will be that you need to renew your will, you need to renew your will…
That’s the endurance. That’s the power behind it. And then the third one will be that you need to renew your walk or your habits.
So that’s kind of the order that we’re gonna work our way through here today, and I want you to start in verse 9.
So Paul hears of this little pocket, this little church that crops up in class, and from the day he heard of it, he says, We have not ceased to pray for you, we’ve been asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And if you let your eyes go down to the end of verse 10, that we would be increasing in the knowledge of God. In fact, in the Book of Colossians, knowledge, wisdom and understanding are the key words. And there’s a reason for that. In this day and age, there was a teaching… Well, there was the beginnings of a teaching that was called Gnosticism… Can you say Gnosticism? Yeah, Gnosticism is the Greek word. Gnostic is the Greek word for knowledge, knowledge. And so people would basically tell you that there’s a kind of higher knowledge that you should pursue, yes, it’s great that you know about this Jesus, but the real where it really is in this higher form of knowledge. And they would encourage you to pursue this higher form of knowledge through, as we read the book of class, the Colossians at the end of chapter 2, worshipping angels, different principalities and powers.
And when it says Angels there, you need to read demons because true angels would never receive worship, and so they would say, you see, you can tap into these spiritual forces to get a deeper understanding of the world, and then they go beyond that and they would say, Well, actually, if you are set to your body or you treat your body severely, you go through days without eating or sleeping, and then you go into a state of meditation, you have the ability to rise even higher in that knowledge since the dawn of time. Charlatans have been guaranteeing the secrets of knowledge in your life.
False prophets and liars since the dawn of time will be claiming that they have secrets to your joy, secrets to your success, secrets to your fruitfulness, secrets to spiritual growth. And there are no secrets. In fact, this entire passage here is saying, Look, you want knowledge and wisdom… Chapter 2, I think it’s verse 3 or four says, and Jesus are hidden, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. You want joy. There’s no secret to it. You want deeper knowledge. There’s no secret meditation trench, you have to get into, there’s no other entity, whether that be an angel or a priest or a dead saint, there’s no other entity that you need to gain knowledge up to get to Jesus. No, Jesus is accessible to you today, and so the first thing that I want to emphasize is that you need to renew your mind, your wits.
Now, I say this, and the vast majority of you out there will hear that and think, Okay, so I’ve got to know the right facts, I’ve gotta know what the Bible says, and that is partially true. You do need to know what the Bible says, but for many of you here, you know the Bible, maybe some of you have read the Bible through in a year or multiple times, you’ve done that, you’ve studied a book out in depth, you’ve even taken theology classes, you sit through my dad’s awesome, deep theological Sunday School classes on sin in the morning, and you know these things, you know these facts, and I wanna tell you it’s not just this word… Knowledge is not just about what you know. 98% of the problems that Christians face have nothing to do with what they know or don’t know, they have to do with whether or not you are thinking or lining your thinking up with what you know to be true, 98% of problems start there. I can’t emphasize this to you enough. The vast majority of Christians are woefully undisciplined in their mind. They know the facts about the Bible, they even know what they’re supposed to do. But when the troubles of this world hit, their mind thinks… Things like, Oh, I’ll never get out of the situation. Their mind thinks, if I just think on this a little bit more, eventually I’ll figure it out and the stress will go away, and do other stress thinkers? Their mind starts thinking, this problem will never go away, this will never get better, I’ll never get over the situation, their mind thinks about their sin, man, I don’t know if I’ll ever grow in this area, or I deserve to feel miserable right now.
Or God could never forgive me. See, their mind goes down these and we will call them rabbit trails, and were undisciplined about telling ourself what to think, and then what happens… The problem isn’t that you don’t know what the truth is, you do know what the truth is, the problem is you’re allowing your mind to think in faltered, the vast majority of problems are solved when you renew your mind to think the thoughts of God. So when God says that All things work together for our good, you cannot respond to that when you hit a trial… This is the worst thing ever.
No, we must put the thoughts of God in our mind and say, Now All things work together for good.
When you sin, you should not be thinking, I’ll never grow out of this sin, because the biblical thinking is, you can grow out of this. When you sin, you should not be thinking, Oh, I’ll never be free, I don’t deserve to be forgiven for this, so I won’t even go to God for forgiveness, because the Bible is very clear, your forgiveness is not based off of your worthiness, it’s based off of Jesus worthiness, you see, you have to put on the thoughts of God, it’s not enough just that you know about the truth, you have to think, you have to put on that world view, the scriptures are a lot like a para-glasses that you see the world through. So many people look at the scripture is like there, something I look at. But actually the scriptures are a way of forming the way you think about life, that’s what renewing your mind means, forming the way you think about life.
Because when you do that, that is where you find joy, that’s where you find victory, that’s where you find the ability to glorify God and the pursuit of righteousness, it’s as you put on the thoughts of God.
So Dr. Martin Lord Jones, he was an amazing preacher years ago, he said something to this effect, he said that most of my problems come from the fact that I’m listening to myself instead of talking to myself… How many of you are guilty that don’t raise your hand. You wake up in the morning and what immediately happens, your brain is going, but you haven’t even started talking, you’re thinking about everything you have to do today, you think about all the problems you’re facing in your life, some of you are getting yourself wound up before you even get in the shower, you’re getting frustrated and inks and angry or angry at this person or anxious about this situation in your life, or you’re beating yourself up with shame and guilt, and the reality is that what you need to do is renew your mind, so there are some practical ways for you to pursue this? I’ve given some of you advice to write no carts everywhere with Bible verses on them and leave them everywhere so that your mind has to read those instead of letting it go down that rabbit trail. I have a Bible versus the background on my phone, a verse from Proverbs as the background on my phone for that exact reason, ’cause you know how many times people check their phone in a day, I’m probably below average in that, but I still check my phone a lot, so every time I pull up my phone, I’m looking at the Word of God, I’m reading it again. I’m reminding myself of the importance of that truth.
So just putting the Bible in places where you look is a good way to renew your mind, but that’s not gonna be enough either ’cause it’s not like a magic thing that saves you… If you put the cross up somewhere, that’s not how it works, it’s then you have to take that and renew your mind… And this is a two-step process. You ask first, what I am I believing? And then you ask, Second, What truth do I need to replace it with? Now, it’s really helpful for you if you name them, don’t think in generic… Don’t think, Well, I’m just not believing in the Word of God. So that’s the lie I’m believing. And all I need to believe in the word of God, so that’s the truth. Don’t think that’s not gonna do you much good at all, I think more specific to lie I’m believing right now, is that I wanna beat myself up for this sin because I think in some way that’ll make me more acceptable to God, if I punish myself a while first, and the truth that I need to put on is that because of Jesus, he’s received all punishment, I don’t need to add to that punishment to make myself more acceptable, Jesus has done it perfectly and now unacceptable for God, so I need to confess. And that I need to accept the forgiveness. And that was where I might go first John 1-9, If we confess, will forgive? Something like that.
So you identify the specific line, name it, write it out, and then say, God, I’m believing the fly, and I don’t want to help me to know and believe and feel the truth of this verse. So the first step is you need to renew your wits, and that’s what he says, that he wants you to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and understanding. So as to walk in a manner worthy of God, so you have to start with the mind… The second one is, walk. Walk in a manner worthy of God, fully pleasing to Him, baring through in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. I think the one thing of study that I need to continue to do more and more is the theme of fruit in the New Testament, we can think about that generically, but I think that that has Garden of Eden roots. I think biblically, it has garden to be roots.
So when I read this passage, I’m seeing Paul saying… And part of the reason why I say that is because of Verse 6. Multiple of those words are the Greeks of Turin, equivalent to some of the Hebrew words for the garden of Ed. And that’s part of the reason why I’m saying that. So this idea of fruitfulness though, then Paul is getting at, Hey, I’m praying that you there in close, whether you’re a church in a Pacers home of 12 or 120, I don’t care, I’m praying that you guys in this desert wasteland of the world start to be a little mini garden beaten. Fruitfulness starts to come in your life as you bear fruit to God, worshipping Him, being righteous to him. And that’s a really cool idea. So he says in Verse 10, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, bearing through in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. So the second one is the word walk, and you might recognize that this word is a process word, it’s not a destination word.
Which means there are going to be days in your life over the next however long God gives you, if it’s a day, or if it’s 70 years, 100 years, whatever. They’re going to be days where that walk feels like it’s going backwards, like you’re on a treadmill, there are gonna be days where you get… If you’re on a hike, you accidentally get off the path on.
Oh, there’s the path, you gotta get back on it, and there are gonna be days when you cover 20 miles in a day, but the importance is, are you on the path? And are you moving forward? The idea of that word, walk there is an idea of the manner of life, the idea of the quality of your life. And he is encouraging you to let the quality of your life be worthy of the Lord. So I wanna take a step back this morning. We sang the song, is he worthy? And it says, is He worthy? Is he worthy of all blessing and honor and glory? Is he worthy of all blessing and honor and glory in your life today? And the answer to that, we know is yes, but then we have to think, What does it look like for me to walk in a manner worthy of Jesus? What does it look like for me to walk in a manner that’s like, I’m acting like he is the most worthy thing out there, who… What is… I think to really understand this, there’s a few steps. First, I think you have to understand what he’s worth, what he’s worth, and I think that’s why he goes from Verse 15 to 20, just talking about Jesus for a while.
Who is Jesus?
If today, you think to yourself, God, Jesus is not worthy of my whole life, or Jesus is worthy of this area, but not this area.
I don’t have to live that righteously, I just need to be this righteous, if you find yourself with a little bit of numbness to who Jesus is. Spend some time in Verses 15 to 20, because I think that’s why they’re there. It’s wordy, there’s a lot packed in there. But there’s also a concentrated dose of who our Jesus… He wasn’t just a man who knew how to answer someone when they asked a question.
It wasn’t just a wise teacher, this is being a person, God that has existed before time began and brought into existence all things, things you can see, and things that you have a sense of, but you can’t see in those moments of darkness and temptation, you know there’s something influencing impacting you, working against you. God created all things. That’s the point of verse 16, whether visible or invisible, all things, angels, whatever, you don’t need to be praying to angels, you don’t need to be fearing the forces of evil at work against you, neither… No, fix your mind on Jesus. No, he is the image of the invisible God. The first point of all creation, first born is a position, not an order of birth, that’s really important to understand in that culture, first-born was about a position like a king or a boss, not necessarily about the order of birth. I know that sounds funny, but when you think about it like that, you realize we’re quick, Oh, that means He’s first place, he’s in the position of authority, and He’s the image of the invisible God, which is a fascinating, fascinating thing, where… Do you remember that from the very first pages of the Bible, right? He created male and female in His image.
So Jesus becomes man, created in the image of God, He is God eternal, and yet he is also the perfect image of the invisible God in a way that you and I never have been, because we’ve been marred by sin. He goes on, Verse 17 years before all things in Him, all things hold together. Very atoms of your body, very elements that hold this world together, God has control of those things, I often look outside and one of the things that I enjoy doing just for meditation is like, How many snowflakes are there in my yard right now? A lot. A lot… And you know what they say, No, two snowflakes are alike. You just imagine a God who has the wisdom and the power to be able to put that many snowflakes in my yard, and that’s just about snow in my yard, that doesn’t talk about the ecosystem here in Iowa that he holds together, the ecosystem of the world that he holds together the water, the fresh water, the salt water, the clouds, the atmospheres, the moon, the way that the Earth rotates around the sun, the way that the sun has all these planets rotating it, but it’s hurdling through space at so fast miles an hour.
I don’t know what the actual number is. And the way that there are billions of stars and billions of galaxies, and our God holds all things together, not just accidentally, not like one of those infinity, all toys that there’s like five balls and they drop it and it hits it and the next one comes out, and it goes back and forth like that. It’s not like I just did that and then walked away from it… No, our God is intensely interested. Jesus Christ intensely interested in this world, holding it together, and not only that, but He has a special relationship with his church, which is Verse 18. He is the head of the body, the church. Why is he the head? He’s in charge. He’s king. Yeah, he’s our king. He’s in charge, he’s the shepherd. I’m the under shepherd, he’s the one who we look to to lead us, and it says here, Why don’t we know he’s in charge? Well, he’s the beginning, he’s the one who started the church, so yeah, I think that gives him the right to be in charge, he’s the first born from the dead, so he’s the one that is sourced…Is the source of all life. For all those who put their faith in him, the hope that we have of heaven one day comes back to him, that in everything he might come to have in some of your translations of first place, some will have pre-eminence. It’s enough to say that he is high and holy and in a standing that is above us, and the problem isn’t that Jesus isn’t glorious. The problem is that you and I have a tendency to go a little bit spiritually blind, and
We forget how worthy he is, we forget that he’s worthy of our life. All the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile all things. And that’s where we find peace, ’cause He’s reconciled us to our God… How amazing that passage is, look, it’s not enough that you just think… Right. Although that is a good start. The second thing is the habits of your life, the principles that you live by, the actions that you take part in, are you going to intentionally take specific steps to walk in a manner that’s worthy of the god described in verses 15 or 20, ’cause he’s worthy. He’s worthy. Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing through in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. I’ll give you a couple of practical tips for your new year as you try to grow in your walk. Okay, I would encourage you to take a specific thing, name it, and go after that in the new year. Different times I’ve pursued different specific things, but you’ll remember a year or two ago, one of my goals was to study through in-depth the entire Book of Isaiah.
You guys hear me talking about Isaiah all the time, it was a specific step for me for a couple of reasons, Number one, because I did not feel like I understood the Old Testament, especially the profits, like I should. But number two, because I wanted to understand the hope, how they viewed Yahweh of the Old Testament, in the hope that they had for the coming Messiah, that the Gospels would eventually fulfill. I wanted to get that, I wanted to grow in my knowledge, and so I took the specific stuff I bought, it’s note takers, copy of Isaiah, it’s a book about this thick. One page has the Scriptures, the other page has a blank page, and I took lots of notes, a lot of notes, and I underlined it, color coded it, everything throughout that whole year 2019 to grow in not only my Bible study, but my understanding of who God is, so for you, it might be a specific step in your life, it might be your bible reading, how are you going to do that?
You could set a few different goals that could be to read through the Bible in a year, it could be to read through the Psalms twice this year, that’s a really easy and low-hanging fruit goal, ’cause the Psalms are great, and there’s 150 of them. So there’s 300, it’s that 65 days in the year. So if you miss a few days here, there is not the end of the world, just keep going, and
So read through the Psalms twice in a year, and read them to God, some of you might be growing in your prayer life, and there are specific steps you can take with that, whether it’s prayer journaling to God specifically, or reading a good prayer book, whatever it is, like what specific steps are you gonna take? And here’s the cool thing. You ask the question, Who do I wanna be? What kind of person do I wanna be as a Christian before God? And then I ask the question, What does a person like that do every day to be that kind of person? And then I’m gonna do those things. It’s relatively easy, we make it way more complicated, but you just set your mind on the type of person you think God wants you to be, then you ask the question, What does that kind of person do? And then you do some of those steps, so you form habits, whether that have… It takes 21 days to form, 45 days, 60 days, 75, 90. You can find a bunch of places on the internet that say different things on that, but
It does take a while to form, but you do it, and that brings us to our third point. And the third one is to be strengthened in your will. Verse 11, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might. For all endurance and patience with joy. Anything worth doing is going to be hard, which means you’re gonna be tempted to give up and be tempted to give up putting on the right kind of thoughts, it can be tempted to give up, putting on the right kind of walk. You’re going to need a Dore. How do you have sustained endurance…
Well, some of it is just will power and self-discipline, I’m not gonna live, you’re gonna have to work on that. But a lot of it is, you see here that were strengthened with all power according to his glorious might. It’s in connection with God, as we keep our eyes fixed on Him and we have that close relationship with Him, that He gives us the spiritual energy we need to be the kind of people he calls us to be. So today, if you’re like, Well, how do I become more righteous in this area of my life? I don’t feel like doing it, I’m not strong enough. Whatever it is, the first step is you have to turn to God and to wrestle with him and not let him go until he gives you an understanding of who he is, and understanding that refreshes your will and refreshes your strength and your endurance. You have to turn to Him.
And so there’s a number of different ways you can do that, but he’s where you find the source of strength to be this, you’re not gonna find enough strength within your own soul to be the kind of person God wants you to be. So I would encourage you with that.
So be renewed in your mind and your wish, be renewed in your walk, be renewed in you will be renewed in these three areas in the coming year, and I hope that you take this sermon, you take the applications, you look at Jesus, you worship Him, you set your minds on him, you realize that he is worthy because he’s not on the cross for our sins and forgiven us so that we can stand before God and be as children. I hope you believe that, I hope that you’ll give that to him today, you give him your faith.
And then hope as a result of those things, that you’ll live in a manner worthy of his calling. That’s bow our heads. Close, arise, and we’re gonna sing a song here to close. Father, we often so often grow blind and dim, and we don’t see you like you deserve, and as a result, we don’t live the way we should, and as a result, we don’t think the thoughts we should, and we don’t endure and habits of righteousness like we should and so I pray that You would refresh each person and hear their vision of who you are and your worthiness, and then out of that, that they would make a choice this year to have their mind renewed and make a choice this year to put on a better walk of life, and to turn to you so that their heart can be renewed and they can have the strength to endure.