Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
What a joy and privilege it is that we have a Shepherd who pities, protects, and provides for us. And the greatest wonder of them all … is himself. The good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. But more than this – as we will consider this Sunday – he is also sovereign and powerful over his creation. What a Savior we serve!
A couple of announcements:
Ladies, be on the lookout for your next fellowship time of Mugs n’ Muffins.
Commit to praying over the next several months as we begin the steps towards organization – our Lord is at work!
This week’s devotional is a reflection from Colossians on the Christian life.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Putting Off and Putting On”
Colossians 3:5, 12, “Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you … put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate heats, kindness, …”
The book of Colossians can be divided into two general sections. In chapters 1 & 2, Paul expounds the glorious person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the sufficient savior! He alone is the creator, sustainer, and redeemer of the world (1:15-20). Nothing at any time is to be added to him or placed beside him. He alone is King and Lord. The Christian, Paul writes, has been delivered by this glorious and exalted Christ from the domain of darkness and has been transferred into the kingdom of the Son (1:13-14). Moreover, in 2:20, Paul states that the Christian has ‘died with Christ.’ And in 3:1, Paul writes that the Christian has been ‘raised with Christ.’ These are indicative realities for the believer. In other words, they are true and sure – they describe the objective position of the Christian. The Christian is no longer under the reign of sin – sin is no longer king in his life – Christ is king once and for all! Also, the Christian possesses resurrection life – he has the spirit of the ascended Christ dwelling within him! Brothers and sisters, it is absolutely critical to understand these twin realities – you have died and been raised with Christ – this is your identity! And it is these realities that ground all of Paul’s exhortation concerning the Christian life in chapters 3 & 4.
Following this line of thought and moving to consider how our identity affects our life, there are two verses I want to highlight and then I will follow with two brief observations. In 3:5, Paul writes, “Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you …” And in 3:12, he writes, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved …” These two verses serve as summary statements describing the general tenor of the Christian life. That is, the Christian is called to continually put to death what is earthly in him and to continually put on Christ-like virtues (kindness, humility, etc).
There are two points of which we need to be aware. First, notice that Paul is calling us to put into practice the very things that has been accomplished in principle. As I mentioned above, the Christian has objectively, once-and-for-all died and been raised with Christ. Yet at the same time, Paul commands us to put to death our indwelling sin and to put on Christ. From one perspective, the Christian life can be seen as being conformed in practice to who we already are in principle. Also, because of who we are in principle we are able – because of the spirit of Christ at work in us – to make real and actual progress in the Christian life.
Secondly, we need to observe that the Christian life entails both negative and a positive elements. In particular, we are called to put off (put to death, v. 5) certain things and to put on (v. 12) certain things. Progress and growth in the Christian life is not simply negation, but rather progress in the Christian life is made through replacement. As we put to death and starve the remnants of sin in our lives, we – at the same time – are to cultivate and to put on things of Christ (see Matt 12:43-45 for Jesus’ parable emphasizing the same point).
Thus brothers and sisters, remember your identity in Christ. Christ is king. You possess his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in you. Be in practice who you already are in principle. And as you battle the sin in your life, never cease to look to Christ – his word, his church, his people, his sacraments, his love, his grace, his faithfulness, and his glory!!
God bless and I look forward to seeing you and to worshipping with you this Lord’s Day,