Hidden With Christ

Thursday, July 25, 2013, 7:24 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Open My Heart” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Colossians 3:1-17 (ESV).

Things Above

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

We, as true followers of Jesus Christ, have died to what once enslaved us. We have chosen, by faith, to allow the Holy Spirit of God to transform our hearts away from our lives of sin to walks of faithful obedience to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Sin was once our master and we were under the influence and control of Satan. But, when Christ Jesus came into our lives, by his grace, through faith in him, our old selves were crucified with him so that “I” no longer live, but now Christ lives in me as Lord (master) of my life. He’s the boss! – Not me, and not Satan or sin.

If we have indeed died to sin and have been raised with Christ to new lives, free from the control of sin, and free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, then our hearts and our minds should be focused on what is above, not on the things of this earth. This does not mean that we don’t work for a living, provide for our families, and make sure we have food to eat, clothes to wear, etc. Those are necessities of life. Yet, what it does mean is that our lives are no longer our own to do with what we want, so our focus should not be on self-gratification, entertainment, and/or our own plans, but we should desire to do the will of God, seek what he wants for our lives, and then walk in obedience to him.

Our lives are “hidden” in Christ, i.e. they are covered with the blood of Christ and are enveloped, encased, swathed and wrapped in his life and in his love. For example, I have nearly 12 grandchildren. The 11th grandchild (a girl) is only 3 months old. Her mom still swaths her in a blanket, so I can easily picture the love, tenderness and care of God in this swathing of us; and in this wrapping of us in his love, grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and protection. It is an awesome visual! If our lives are truly enveloped in Christ in this way, which they should be, then that should mean that our minds, thoughts, emotions, passions, desires, and activities should be permeated (infused) with Christ, his thoughts, his will and his purposes for our lives, and all else should flow from that center.

Put To Death

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

There is a popular teaching in evangelical circles today which teaches that God’s grace means he does it all and nothing is required of us in thought, word, or deed. This would mean that God “zaps” us with salvation and we are now mindless creatures like puppets on a string, and we no longer are even capable of doing anything good or bad, because he takes over like evil spirits take over people’s bodies and he makes us do things, possibly even against our wills. This is not what scripture teaches about God’s grace.

Certainly our salvation comes from Christ and his death on a cross for our sins, and there is nothing at all we can do in our flesh to earn it or to deserve it. Amen! Yet, scripture is real clear on the subject of true faith involving us fully cooperating with the Spirit’s work of transformation in our hearts and lives by us willingly dying to sin daily, and by us choosing to walk in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, in the power and strength of the Spirit of God working his will in our lives and through our lives for his good pleasure and for his glory (Cf. Lu. 9:23-25; Ep. 2:8-9; 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; Ro. 6; Titus 2:12; and 1 Jn., etc.). Otherwise, why would we be given all these instructions in the New Testament on putting to death our worldly and sinful lives, so we can be renewed in the image of our creator?

If we have truly died with Christ and have been raised with him to new life in him, created to be like Christ in true righteousness and holiness, and our lives are now swathed in him, our desires should change, because we now have the Spirit of God within us prompting, encouraging, counseling, nurturing, convicting, and leading us the way in which we should go. And, we should now desire to please our Lord in all we do and say. This is not to say that salvation means instant perfection. It doesn’t, obviously, otherwise why all these instructions on putting to death the deeds of darkness in our lives? Salvation (or sanctification) is a life-long process, and we won’t reach perfection until we get to heaven. Yet, that should never be an excuse for continued willful sin in the life of a believer in Christ.

We are given a list here of some of the things we should put to death in our lives, in the power and wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit of God within us – sexual immorality, impurity, evil passions and desires, idolatry, anger, malice, slander, and lies (I hate lies), etc. I would encourage each and every person reading this to honestly go before the Lord in prayer, seeking his face, and inquiring of the Lord as to what areas of our lives we need to still put to death. I did that this morning during my time with the Lord, so I am not asking you to do something I have not honestly done myself, not only in inquiry, but in obedience. And, I pray we will all be obedient people of God, who desire him above all else, and who want nothing more than to please him in all ways.

Put On

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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. 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.

If you are at all familiar with Ephesians 4, you will find many parallels between it and Colossians 3, because they both speak of the necessity for followers of Christ to put off our old way of living for self and sin, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and of putting on our new selves (not cleaned-up old selves) in Christ. And, both passages of scripture give us lists of things we need to put off, and lists of things we need to put on in place of what we put off. There is a Biblical principle here that I believe we all need to get. Many people make professions of Christ as Savior without ever putting to death their old lives, and without truly ever putting on new lives in Christ Jesus, mainly because they never put the old life off first. Coming to Christ does not mean having cleaned up and somewhat altered old lives. Coming to Christ means we change from caterpillars into butterflies, i.e. we become something or someone else. And, that is the principle behind the put offs and the put ons.

Many people, as well, come to Christ in all sincerity, and they even pray for the Holy Spirit of God to remove their old desires and to put new desires within them, and for a time they stop doing what they used to do, but eventually old ways of living begin to creep back into their lives. Why? Well, there could many reasons for this, but one of them, I believe, is that they never truly grasped the whole concept of transformation (from a caterpillar to a butterfly), and of the necessity of filling our lives with the things of God – his purposes, will, working, ministry, etc. in place of those things we put off. If all we do is sweep the house clean, but we never fill it with Christ and the things from above, then eventually the old stuff will come back and fill those empty places. So, not only must we put off telling lies, but we must tell the truth (become truth tellers). Not only should we stop stealing, but we should work and then give to others. Not only should we stop bad-mouthing people, but our mouths should be filled with praise and words that edify and build up God’s people.

Above all else, we should put on love, and this is not speaking just of friendship love, i.e. the kind that is emotional and is based in the one we love. But, we should put on god-like love for one another, which is based in the one who loves us (Christ/God), and we should love as Christ loved (and loves) us, and gave himself for us so we might be free from sin, and so we might walk in his truth. This means that this kind of love speaks the truth in love, it confronts sin in humility, and it cares enough about others to share with them the truth of the gospel, even if it means being hated and rejected in return. This is how Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. True love doesn’t just tell people what they want to hear or what makes them feel good, but it demonstrates love in such a way that shows that we truly care about people, about their lives, their relationships with Jesus Christ, and their eternal destiny. So, let’s love others as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us.

Open My Heart / An Original Work / July 2, 2013

“Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil”(Rm. 16:19b).

Open my heart. Let Your truth in.
Make of me a servant, pure within;
Sing of Your praise all of my days.
Let Your Spirit transform all my ways.
Jesus Christ died on a cross to
Save me from my sin.
“Repent of sin. Be cleansed within.
Obey all of His commands today.”

“Why do you doubt? Why do you fear?
Jesus Christ will wipe away your tears.
He cares for you. He feels your pain.
Die to sin, and life with Him you’ll gain.
Follow Him where’er He leads you.
Talk with Him each day.
Then you will know what He has planned
For your life before your world began.”

“Come unto Me, weary in heart.
Let My love and grace to you impart.
Believe in Me. Trust in My care.
Take your burdens to the Lord in prayer.
He will meet all of your needs,
And give you peace within.
Rejoice in Him! Tell of His love.
He will give you comfort from above.”