Colossians 3:1-11

Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus, who have been baptized into Christ and have put on Christ, Whether it was an advertisement for a new diet or a new exercise program, no doubt you have seen those “before and after” pictures. These pictures are used to advertise a product or program and show you the radical changes that have occurred in the lives of its users. You see Anne who joined Weight Watchers and went from a size 10 to a size 6 in just two weeks. Or we see Hank who began using the PX-90 workout and went from having a beer gut to rock-hard abs.

In our sermon text for today, we have a sort of “before and after” description of the life of a Christian. We read of those things and desires that are earthly, carnal. This is the “before” of the Christian. But in our text we are also reminded of the “after.” This is the “new life” every Christ-believer has. It wasn’t accomplished by the Christian’s hard work, but rather by Christ’s hard work. His sinless life, His innocent death, His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension into heaven. This new life has been given to all who are with Christ by faith. So let us consider this new life with Christ, first by considering when and how your new life began.

In Colossians 2 we heard Paul write that you were “buried with (Christ) in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God.” (Col 2:12) When you were baptized, God did something. He connected you with Christ. In your baptism you put on Christ. What happened to Jesus, happened to you. His righteousness is credited to your account, as though you did it yourself. He died for sin, and your sins died with Him. He rose from the dead on the third day and God gave you new life. As Jesus says in John 3, you were “born again” by water and the Spirit. This is what Paul is referring to in the first verse of our text, “You have been raised with Christ.” When Jesus rose from the dead, He rose to new life. No longer in humility, Jesus was getting ready to return to His Father and our Father. He was not going to die again for sin, that was done once for all on the cross of Calvary. He rose to new life. Having been baptized into Christ, this is your new life with Christ. You have been raised with Him in baptism. No longer must you suffer hell for your sin, because Jesus suffered it for you. You died with Him and you have been raised with Him. Like Jesus after Easter, you are getting ready to return to His Father and Your Father in heaven. I

But doesn’t heaven seem so far away, so uncertain? Here again, we can return to our baptism for our comfort, strength, and reassurance. Having been buried with Christ in baptism and raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, Paul writes in verse 3, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” We hide things that are important to us. Important documents are hidden in a safe, kept out of sight of intruders. When there is a national crisis, the leaders of our nation are hidden in a top secret and secure location in order to protect them from any threat. So it is with our life – the life that Christ died to give us. Right now it is hidden with Him in God. It is safe and secure, out of sight and out of reach of the enemy. Our life is locked up with Christ, and “no hellish burglar can break the combination” to gain access. Just as no one can go to God’s right hand and remove Jesus from His throne of power, no other person or hellish enemy can snatch your new life out of Jesus’ hand. It is securely hidden with Christ in God.

Sometimes when something is hidden, we wonder if we will ever see it again. For instance, the man who hid those rare, gold coins in his backyard can no longer remember where he buried it. That will not be the case with your new life in Christ. Just as you have died with Christ and were buried with Him in baptism, have been raised with Him to new life, and your life is now securely hidden with Christ in God, so too your new life – your true life – will appear with Christ in glory when He returns. What will that life be like? We are not fully told in Scripture, because we cannot fully comprehend it. But what we are told is pretty amazing. The Apostle John writes, “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1Jn 3:2) When Jesus returns on the Last Day, our true life, our everlasting life will be revealed. These bodies of ours will be perfect, holy, and glorified, just as Jesus is. Paul writes to the Corinthians that these mortal bodies will put on immortality and these corrupt bodies will put on incorruption. When Christ who is our life appears, then we also will appear with Him in glory. This is your new life in Christ.

Since we have this new life hidden with Christ in God which will be revealed in glory, we have new priorities right now. By faith we now know that there is more to life than the here and now. By faith we know that the earth and all its works will be destroyed by fire on the Day of the Lord’s coming. By faith we know that our true life, our eternal life, is with Christ in God. Therefore we set our minds on things above, not on the things of this earth. Paul lists some of the things of earth. “Sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness…anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth,” and, “do not lie to one another.” If our hearts and minds are focused on the here and now of this earth, then we would expect such actions and attitudes to follow. We would want to serve our sinful flesh with all sorts of sexual immorality, because that is the only pleasure to be found in this dying world. IF we set our minds on the things of the earth, we will be full of anger and hatred every time someone does us wrong. We would use foul language to make a joke or to cuss someone out. We would lie and cheat to better our lives. These are earthly things. Yet, hearing Paul list off these things, how many of them describe you? Let me read them again – “Sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness…anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth,” and, “do not lie to one another.” Though we have a new life in Christ, we still have our bodies of sin to deal with. Our “old self” as our translators call it. You might be more familiar with the terms “Old Adam” or “Old Man.” This is the sinful image of Adam that was passed down from our sinful parents. Our old self longs to serve it self and please itself. It is hostile to the things of God. It is opposed to His every command. Why are you sucked into those dirty internet pictures or those filthy movies? Because your old self desires to please itself. Why do you curse out your spouse or kids or co-workers when they didn’t listen to you? Why do you lie and make up stories? Your old self wants to be its own god and hates anyone who would impede that. Taking from Jesus’ parable in our Gospel lesson, our old self want to be rich toward itself (Lk 12:21). Yet, because of these things the wrath of God is coming. These are all things that He is opposed to and go contrary to His will. Sexually immorality, that is all sex outside the marriage of one man and one woman, is a perversion of HIS institution of marriage. And because of this, His wrath is coming, just like it was poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham. Selfish anger and malice, are contrary to the God who is love and sent His Son to save us. Lying is contrary to God who only speaks truth. We all are tempted and struggle with these things because we carry with us our old self. And yes, these things are very prevalent and socially acceptable in the world around us. Yet, we have a new life with Christ. We are connected to Christ through baptism by faith. Our minds are not consumed with the things of this world and the pleasures of this world, but with the things that are above. Therefore rather than serving our flesh, let us kill it. And kill it daily, because it seeks to control us daily. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Rom 13:14) Turn off the TV or at least turn the channel, or leave the movie when filth comes on. Put a web-blocker on your computer to block search results that might lead you to lust. Use your body to glorify God, rather than glorify sexual impulses. Seek the well-being of your neighbor, to serve him or her, put their needs ahead of your own, rather than looking out for your own best interests. Speak the truth in love, rather than lying. Daily kill your old self, which is consumed with the pleasures and joys of this world, rather than the things above.

In every Christ-believer there is both the “before and after.” Before Christ, there is only the old man of sin which blindly leads the sinner on the path to hell. After being brought to faith in Christ there is the new self, a new life, headed for heaven and eternity with God. Only in heaven with the “before” be gone forever. While we are still here in our bodies, we will have both our “before” and our “after.” The before we want to kill daily, daily put off, like an old soiled garment, lest our flesh rule our thoughts and actions. Likewise, the “after” we need to continually work on. Verse 10, “and you have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” The word “put on” is the same word that is used for putting on clothes. We have put on the new self, the new man of faith, when we were baptized and brought to faith in Christ. Our new self constantly needs to be renewed. This happens, as Paul says, “in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Through word and sacrament, our new self is being strengthened by the Holy Spirit and renewed. Right now your new self, your new life, your new man of faith is being renewed. The Holy Spirit has convicted you through His word that those sexual sins and desires, those unloving words, and those lies are things that God hates and thus you hate, and want to kill and put off. Just as you get dressed each morning, so our new self needs to be put on and constantly renewed in the knowledge of God and His Word. What an amazing “before and after” picture Paul paints for us today. We see the ugliness of our lives “before” and without Christ. But we see the glory and beauty “after” Christ joined us to Himself through baptism by faith. We see the new life we have been given through His resurrection from the dead. New life that is secured for us with Christ in God in heaven. A new life that will appear with Christ in glory on the last day. Until then, let us daily kill our old self and all its sinful desires, and daily renew our new self, our new man of faith, through regular use of God’s Word and Sacraments. Let us daily, set our minds on things above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Praise be to Christ for the new life He died to give us! Amen.

This message by Rev. Pfeiffer is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas.  For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected].  A Pass it On Project ,  You can read more  at  Trinity Lutheran Church, Spokane, Washington