************ Sermon on Colossians 3:1-17 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 7, 2013
"The Christian's Uniform"
What comes to mind when I say the word "uniform"? Or, perhaps I should say, who comes to mind? Here is a list I quickly jotted down:
-soldiers and sailors and those in the military
-some schools have uniforms for their students
I The Christian's Uniform
A Did you know that Christians also have a uniform? Did you catch what Paul wrote in verse 12?
(Col 3:12) Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves ...Paul says, "Clothe yourselves." What follows is a description of the Christian's uniform: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and so on.
Every morning we choose the clothing we are going to wear that day. Likewise, every morning we need to consciously choose what we are going to wear as Christians. We need to consciously and deliberately put on the Christian's uniform.
B As with all uniforms, this is clothing that sets us apart. Clothing that marks us as being different. Clothing that distinguishes us from all other people. However, those who study and research such matters tell us there is little discernible difference in the lifestyle of those who go to church from those who do not go to church. There are people today who claim to be saved without undergoing any moral transformation. But the grace that saves us always changes us. Saving grace is also sanctifying grace. The grace that saves teaches believers to live in ways that are different from the patterns of this world. So, clothe yourselves with the Christian's uniform.
C This week of TASC we are going to look at the Christian's uniform. Each day we are going to look at a different item in the uniform. Each day you will be challenged to wear the full uniform. Each day you will be challenged to be different from the world.
You need to wear that uniform as you go out to the job sites. You need to wear that uniform when you first get up in the morning. You need to wear that uniform when you eat your meals and play your games. You need to wear that uniform during worship. You need to wear that uniform as you travel. You need to wear that uniform on your day away. As a symbol of this, I want you to come to worship each night wearing your TASC t-shirt. Think of it as the Christian's uniform.
Of course, what is true for those in TASC is also true for every person here. Everyone here is called to wear the Christian's uniform of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and so on.
II Dying and Rising with Christ
A Before he writes about the Christian's uniform Paul points us to the death and resurrection of Christ.
What can we say about the death of Christ? In His death Christ satisfied the claims of God's justice. In His death Christ made payment for sins. In His death Christ took the sinner's place.
We see in the Gospels that this was not the only time that Jesus took the sinner's place. For instance, He was baptized by John the Baptist. John the Baptist had one message: that sinners needed to repent and be baptized (Mt 3; Lk 3). Surprisingly, Jesus also came to John to be baptized – even though He had no sin to confess and had done nothing of which to repent. He acted as a sinner.
Jesus suffered so much. There was gossip about His choice of friends and His eating and drinking habits. There was rejection by His own people, His own village, His own family. There was betrayal by one of His chosen disciples. There was denial by a close friend. There was hatred and enmity from the Jewish religious leaders. There was whipping and mockery and finally death by crucifixion. The Romans did not invent crucifixion but they certainly perfected it. It was meant to humiliate and hurt the condemned man. And, it was meant to send a message: the cross awaits anyone who attempts to cross the Roman Empire.
Jesus suffered all of this in our place, for our sin.
And, then, three days later came the resurrection. An actual, physical resurrection of a Jesus Who had been dead and buried. And the message went forth: the Lord has risen, He has risen indeed. He has overcome death and sin and Satan. Everything depends on this resurrection: preaching, sacraments, evangelism, songs, Sunday worship.
Ours is a broken world. We see that every single day. People are hurting. They need comfort. The message of the resurrection is the first thing we say to them. It is not the only thing but it is the most important thing. It is the platform of everything else we have to say to the world.
B The message of Colossians is that you have died and been raised with Christ (Col 2:12,20; 3:1; 3:3). Meaning what? Meaning that in Christ your sin has been paid for and you have been raised to new life.
Now from this comes a command: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Col 3:12). Put on the Christian's uniform because you have died and been raised with Christ.
Every command in Colossians 3 and 4 flows from this basis. "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things," (Col 3:2). Why? Because you have died and been raised with Christ. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature" (Col 3:5). Why? Because you have died and been raised with Christ. Clothe yourself with compassion, with kindness, with humility, with gentleness, with patience (Col 3:12). Why? Because you have died and been raised with Christ. Bear with each other and forgive (Col 3:13). Why? Because you have died and been raised with Christ. Over all these virtues put on love (Col 3:14). Why? Because you have died and been raised with Christ. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (Col 3:15). Be thankful (Col 3:15). Devote yourself to prayer (Col 4:2). Why? Because you have died and been raised with Christ.
Everything follows from dying and rising with Christ.
C Paul gives us here a framework for understanding the Christian life. The Christian life is a dying and a rising. Every time you put away resentment and put on gratitude something in you dies and rises. Every time you put off scorn and put on respect something in you dies and rises. Every time you put away anger and put on kindness something in you dies and rises. Every time you put away immorality and put on holiness something in you dies and rises. Every time you put away rage and put on love something in you dies and rises.
Day after day, as we are sanctified by the Spirit, something within us dies and rises with Christ.
III The When of Dying and Rising with Christ
A You have died with Christ. You have been raised with Christ. When did this happen? There are four answers.
First, when Jesus died and rose we died and rose with Him because Jesus never died and rose alone. Jesus died and rose as the second Adam, as the Head of the body, as the Shepherd of His sheep. When Jesus died and rose around A.D. 30 so did you and I.
B Second, Colossians 2:12 indicates we died and rose with Christ at baptism. As you know, Christ sank deep into death and was raised up Lord of Life. In baptism, Christians are being like Christ. Let me explain this. In Sunday Evening Fellowship we have been viewing a DVD series entitled "A History of Christian Worship." We learned that many early Christians walked down steps into a pool for baptism. There they were either immersed or large scoops of water were poured on them. Then they walked back up the steps and out of the pool. Just as Christ sank deep into death so Christians sink into the waters of the pool; just as Christ was raised up Lord of life, so Christians walk out of the pool.
C Third, we die and rise with Christ when we live the new life, the converted life. This involves two steps. First, by the power of the Spirit, we are to put to death the corruptions of the old nature. We take off pride, envy, greed, rage, and so on. These things have to die. Second, by the power of the Spirit, in their place we are to put on the Christian's uniform of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and so on. Paul is thinking, again, of baptism in the early church. Baptized Christian put on a new robe when they came out of the water. The new robe symbolizes that they are under new management. The new robe symbolizes new life. The new robe symbolizes the Christian's uniform. We used to wear the uniform of the Rutgers basketball coach who abused his players (Mike Rice) but now we put on the new uniform of Christ.
D Fourth, we finally and totally die and rise with Christ when He comes again. At that time the old man of sin is totally killed off. At that time the new man of righteousness becomes fully alive and we are finally like Christ in all our ways.
When, then, did we die and rise with Christ? We did die and rise with Christ at the grave. His death and resurrection is guaranteed as ours when we are baptized. We personally taste this dying and rising when we are converted. And, we fully experience this dying and rising when Jesus comes again.
IV Keep on Dying and Rising
A You have died with Christ. You have been raised with Christ. Now keep it going. Put to death your old nature. Clothe yourself with your new nature. Take off your old clothing of sin. Put on the uniform of Christ.
Take off scorn, put on respect. Take off pride, put on humility. Take off envy, put on gratitude. Take off anger, put on joy. Take off impurity and lust, put on righteousness. Take off slander, put on kindness. Take off harshness, put on compassion.
We are looking at compassion tomorrow evening. But let me say this. A person who knows how to weep with those who weep, who knows how to feel distress at the pain of others, such a person has died with Christ and has been raised with Christ.
B I want to say a quote from Mark Twain. Twain said, "Clothes make the man ..." What he meant is people will judge you according to the way you dress.
How true. Especially when you are a Christian.
You have died with Christ and have been raised with Christ. Therefore, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and so on.
Think of people in your life who have put on the uniform of Christ. Maybe someone elderly. Maybe someone who has died. Some kind, gentle soul in your family or church. You love being around such people. You admire such people. You want to be like these people. For they are people of great beauty.
Clothes make the man. The Christian's uniform is a thing of great beauty. And, those who wear it become people of great beauty.
You have died with Christ. And, you have been raised with Christ.
(Col 3:12-15) Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (13) Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (14) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (15) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
My prayer for those of you on TASC is that each and every day you will consciously and deliberately put on the uniform of Christ. My prayer for the congregation is that you will live as people who have died and been raised with Christ.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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