Colossians 3:3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
The Apostle Paul was a master teacher, one who was chosen by God to teach that Christ is God, and those who believe and have faith are called to a higher standard of living. It’s a calling placed in the heart of every follower of Christ which demands that we not be conformed to the ways of this world.
And those who are either currently wrapped in bondage to sin or those who have been sober for a short time, months or even years know exactly what that bondage looks and feels like.
People who never experienced childhood trauma or chronic dysfunction in the home as a kid growing up don’t know what it is like to be filled with mountains of shame, self loathing, an inability to trust others, a pervasive fear that invades every thought and an overwhelming desire to unplug from reality by any means possible; food, drugs, alcohol, lust, power, ego, anger, self-righteousness, pride… it all feeds a delusional self-image of having arrived, being whole and complete while in reality living as enemies of God.
Jeremiah 2:35 you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’ Behold, I will bring you to judgment for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’
Jeremiah 3:25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us. For we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.”
Once a person comes to Christ however, we are set free. We are no longer sinners who sin, but saints who sin. It is the cross that binds us to God, the blood of Jesus that washes us clean.
Does that mean all our troubles go away, not by a long shot, in fact in some ways the battle gets harder. In our old life we were fighting the wrong battle. We focused outward accusing others as being the problem, the cause of our pain, and in that we justified our actions to feel good at any cost.
Colossians 3:5-11 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,[e] free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Notice the Good News Paul sprinkles within the roadmap to recovery in this verse. We are all the same, regardless of what walk of life, no matter where we come from, what we’ve done, we are all now equal in the eyes of Christ.
We cannot out-sin Grace. That is worth repeating. We can NOT out-sin Grace. For the repentant heart there is great hope in the continual renewal of our life when we take our sins to the Lord and freely admit and repent.
Now we have a new self; “…which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator”.
Being renewed. When we come to an authentic walk with Christ, God’s word comes alive and where once we lived in shame and guilt over our sin, and walked around blind and destroying ourselves and others through our own brokenness, we are now given insight into the condition of our own dark and hardened hearts, and the true work of sanctification has begun.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but after 2.5 years on this road of recovery, since the morning I dropped to my knees and cried out to Christ for healing, I now realize He instantly went to work on me, but not the way I had thought or expected.
Much like the way the Apostles and Israel thought that Jesus was going to overthrow Rome and become their new leader and make their lives wonderful from that day forward. They were expecting Him to do all the hard work and they could just live happily ever after.
I too had that same expectation. I thought, now that I am growing in the knowledge of Christ, He would simply take my sinful nature away, let me go on living my life in peace and serenity with no more struggles or strivings.
That is in fact what He offers us, complete freedom from our old self; but many like myself don’t even recognize the gift right in front of us most time. We go on applying our old understanding to the new life. We struggle and strive to earn grace and love, we battle our lustful or addictive thoughts trying to earn salvation.
The incredible news is we are already given that incredible gift of Salvation, solely by what God has done for us. Our striving to put off the old self is just icing on the cake, it is the hard work and fruit bearing years that are in response to Grace, it should not be an attempt to earn it.
That distinction matters a great deal, for in the former you are still not free, you are not a new creation, nothing has changed until YOU make the difference. In the latter, It is Jesus who makes all the difference, and living in the assurance of salvation allows us to BE FREE.
If we can get that distinction down in our heart, then we can instantly began to feel empowered to rejoice in our new bodies. It then becomes OK for the guilt and shame to melt away; and yes… even if we aren’t perfect yet.
We will fall short the rest of our lives, but if we continue to rely on God’s grace, know that if we continue to pursue righteousness and honestly with all our heart, mind, body and soul, that we continue to do our best to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; then we can rest in the peace and joy that comes from the assurance that we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
The “New Self” is not living perfect, but being in pursuit of righteousness. We are allowed to feel great joy in the fact that we can now see our sin, and that our desire to root that out is now in us.
We felt only guilt and shame before, but it all changes with Christ.
This too is worth repeating… We are no longer sinners who sin, but we are now saints who sin.
In our old lives there was no hope, no joy, no future. But in our new lives in Christ we are assured of it, if we stay the course.
The foundation of all 12-step recovery programs is the same foundation that brings us to Christ.
- I am powerless, I am not God, I am just a broken sinner in need of a Healing, Loving, Gracious Savior who can’t do it on my own, I’ve tried a thousand times in a thousand ways and I give up. I can’t do it.
- There is a God, a Supreme God who is the Creator of all things. It is He who in His perfect love saves the un-savable from the path of destruction we were once on.
- I surrender my life, my will, my understanding, my desires, my everything to what God has in store for me. I become a seeker of truth. I now desire nothing more than to know God’s will, plan and purpose for my life and I pray daily for the power to carry that out.
Colossians 3:12-17 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.
So today brothers, my prayer is that we can above all give thanks to our Heavenly Father, who in His unmerited favor chose to give us sight, to remove the veil of self deceit, denial and death. That He in his love chose to open our eyes to the darkness in our own hearts so that we can be humble and surrender to our Savior, and show grace, love, patience and kindness to others and especially ourselves. Let’s enjoy the path He placed in front of us this day.