Sermon: The Resurrection and the Sin of Idolatry Colossians 3:1–5

TT- Believers are raised with Christ so we should focus on heavenly things not earthly things

To focus and worship earthly things rather than God is Idolatry…

Idolatry is the selfish sin of substitution in which we devote ourselves to worship something or someone in the place of God.  It is foremost a sin of a covetous heart that leads us to desire more than what God provides, and to trust something or someone lesser than God to satisfy our wants and needs.

Colossians 3:1–5 (ESV) 

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. 

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 

1.  Humanity in Adam

So much of the Christian life is getting our thinking in line with what really matters, what’s really true and what God desires.  In order to see clearly what’s true, what matters and what God desires we must look back at what happened.

As we look to the question what happened it’s important that we go all the way back to the beginning to answer this question.
Genesis 3:1–4 (ESV) 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. 

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 

Adam ate the forbidden fruit and sin entered into the world.  Not only did sin enter the world but Adam, as the representative of all humanity took us down with him.

Federal Headship, in a broad sense, is the position that the male represents his descendants. In the case of Adam, he was the federal head of mankind in that he represented mankind in the fall. We were “in him,” in his seed. When he fell, we fell “in him.” Likewise, Jesus is our federal head in salvation. He represented his people on the cross.

1 Corinthians 15:20–22 (ESV) 

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 

Because all humanity was in Adam, he being our representative failed the test and we all got F’s with him.  All humanity is in Adam and all humanity is sinful we have a fallen nature and we sin ourselves because we are in Adam.

Romans 5:12 (ESV) 

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 

So what happened?  Like it or not, Adam sinned for all of us.  Because we are in Adam everything Adam did was credited to us.  The curse is not just on Adam; it’s on us too.  Adam died and we die.  
This is the condition of every human ever born since.  All humanity lies under Adam’s curse.  All humanity waits very reluctantly for death.
That’s the bad news…it’s pretty bad.  All humanity waits for death then judgment.  As humans we try not to think about it any more than we have to.  We busy ourselves with distractions; fill our lives with idols so we can think about other things.  Because we are in Adam we are bound to this world and therefore seek things to worship from this world.  We are all by nature idol worshippers because we are earthbound and our god’s are also earthbound.

What happened, we fell and became idolaters.

All humanity emerges from the womb as sinners by nature, by declaration and by deed.  All humanity is stuck in this earthly existence until we die and God then judges us for our sin.

The fall affected every part of our being. Our minds, because of our fallen nature, are darkened incapable of understanding the things of the Spirit of God. Further, our emotions are now deceptive and untrustworthy (Jeremiah 17:9) and our will, which is, our ability to choose good over evil and right over wrong, is bound. 

The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith reads,
“Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation, so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to commit himself, or to prepare himself thereto.”

1 Cor. 2:14 (ESV)  

    The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  

Romans 8:7 (KJV)  

    Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 

Our Will is fallen, Emotions are fallen, Passions are fallen, and our Bodies are fallen.  Everything about us is fallen. 

That’s our sad condition in Adam.  Every human without exception is in Adam. 
2.  Believers In Christ

Romans 5:19 (ESV) 

19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 

All who are in Adam die.  All who are in Christ live.  Just as Adam is humanity’s representative head so for all who believe, Jesus is our representative head.  So, what does that mean for believers?  Everything that happens to Jesus happens to us.

Earlier in the Book of Colossians we are told that as believers we have died with Christ.  Our new Federal Head has taken us into the grave with Him.  Now, watch what else takes place because we are in Christ…
Colossians 3:1–5 (ESV) 

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. 

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 

A – Because of Christ’s Resurrection, God has Raised Us as Well 

Col. 3:1a (ESV)  

    If then you have been raised with Christ

We died with Christ now Paul tells us we have been raised with Christ.  In Jesus’ resurrection we too have been raised from the dead.  Paul is declaring that if you are a born again believer all that is about to follow applies to you.  Many translators think that the if then would better be translated since.  Paul is telling us that because we were raised with Christ we are now set on a solid footing and now have responsibilities to live holy lives.  Have been raised means it is a stated past event with on going results.  Our resurrection with Christ not only was a past event but it has changed our future as well. 

B – Because of Christ’s Resurrection, Our Treasure Is In Heaven 

Col. 3:1b-2 (ESV)  

    Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  [2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  

That is the fact of this passage.  We are being made into the image of Christ.  Paul gives us practical advice.  Since we have been raised with Christ and since Christ is seated in the heavenlies so to positionally before God we are seated in the heavenlies, so focus on heavenly things.

How can I, as a believer, focus on heaven and begin to live less like my old self and more like my new self?

                        – Seek Heaven

            Seek the things that are above

Keep seeking.  Don’t stop seeking.  Never give up seeking.  

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)  

    But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 

Be on a heavenly quest. 

– Think Heaven

            Set your minds on things that are above

Our goal is to move our thinking from our idols (earthly things) to heaven where our real home is and where our Savior is.  

Just like a compass is drawn to the north, so should our hearts be drawn toward heaven.  Our attention, our minds, our thoughts should be on the Lord and His kingdom.   Paul is telling us to consciously think about heaven. Our thinking must begin to change from what it used to be to what it will be.  What we used to think about to what the Lord wants us to think about.  As we persevere in the process of changing our thinking, God will change it.

Romans 12:2 (ESV)  

    Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

As our minds begin to think heaven we will understand more and more God’s Will.

Why should the things above be our passion?

C- God Will Glorify Believers

Col. 3:3-4 (ESV)  

    For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  [4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

We died with Christ. We have been raised with Christ.  God tells us we will appear with Christ in glory.  

Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Our promise of heaven is secure in Christ.  He is our life.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)  

    It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Because He rose, we will be raised.  Because He will appear, we will appear.  Because He was glorified, we will be glorified.

God takes the initiative in every step of our salvation.  Even the salvation we have yet to fully see.

3- Because We Have Been Raised With Christ We Seek to Kill What is Evil Within Us

Col. 3:5 (ESV)  

    Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry

I am not going to go through the lists of these sins.  You can read them and you know what they mean.  What I want to do today is help you Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.

That is our quest as believers.  That is God’s will for each and every one of us.  Based on our position in Christ, Paul tells us what to do.

I really like the word the KJV uses here in this verse.  It says, Mortify

According to the dictionary, mortify means, to destroy the strength, vitality, or functioning of something. 

 So, to put to death therefore what is earthly in you, means to destroy the strength and vitality of your sinful nature and do battle with your idols.  Because Christ was raised from the dead and because we also have been raised we must do battle with our old self, our earthly sinful nature, our self that is in love with this world.  

Our way of thinking has ruled our lives for far too long.  We have been accustomed to the world’s values all our life. 

In the JB Phillips paraphrase Bible, it really helps here.  He translates Romans 12: 2 like this: 

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remake you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.

Am I willing to give up a particular idol to better focus on Christ?

Is the Lord calling you today to a deeper level of commitment and holiness?  

Perhaps God is calling you to go from trying not to sin very much to trying not to sin at all.  What idol do you have that God wants you to give up and repent of?  This takes conviction and commitment doesn’t it?

Jonathan Edwards, in his resolutions says, “I am resolved never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”

Well, if you have Conviction and Commitment about holiness and putting to death therefore what is earthly in you, you are 90% on your way to a holier life.  

The way you kill your sinful nature is to slowly starve it to death.  Rather than feeding it by, engaging in temptations and sin, feed your new nature by spending time in God’s Word, memorizing Scripture, prayer.

David said, 

Psalm 119:11 (ESV)  

    I have stored up your word in my heart,

        that I might not sin against you. 

Paul tells us that we are to renew our fallen corrupted minds.

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)  

    I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

After we realize that we are in Christ.  Because of the Lord’s initiative we are brought from death to life, then our goal is to battle against our sinful nature and kill it. 

Beloved Jesus’ resurrection has raised us as well.  We are no longer earthly but heavenly.  Now we must kill our old self with it’s idols and focus on heaven because that’s where Christ is and that’s our real home.
Believers are raised with Christ so we should focus on heavenly things not earthly things

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