Colossians 3:1-4

Gilbert K. Chesterton the British poet, essayist, novelist and journalist was dubbed “The Prince of Paradox.” Chesterton was a professed Christian and he once made the spiritual observation that in the house of life many people are content to live in the cellar. In fact, they seem to assume that the cellar is the only room in the house.

I think we know exactly what he was saying. There are many who live out their lives in the dusty, musty chambers of the basement of life. They live where there is little vision of what life is really all about. But when someone becomes a Christian, they are moved upstairs to enjoy the quarters of the Heavenly Father.

Out of the life of the great Scottish preacher, George H. Morrison, there comes a story of a woman who lived in the cellar when she first went to hear him preach. He is one of the great preachers of all time. He was a great expositor of the Word. In the process, she became converted. Sometime later, someone noted that she had moved to an upstairs flat. In her well kept yard now there were flowers. A song regularly came from her little flat. When someone asked her about her move out of the cellar, she replied in her rich Scottish brogue, “Well, you can’t live in a cellar and listen to George Morrison preach!”

That is exactly what the Apostle Paul is talking about in Colossians. He has now turned from proclaiming the teachings to the practical application in the Christian life. It is not enough to believe in Christ our lives must demonstrate His life. This is in contrast to the pagan religions of Paul’s day and our own which said little or nothing about the personal morality of the believer. A person at a pagan idol could drop down and pray, then give his offering and go right back out into sin. What a person believed had no direct bearing on how he behaved. Sounds like the way some professed Christians live today, doesn’t it?

I. We must live upstairs because Jesus’ resurrection makes it possible

This is a picture of our baptism experience. Baptism doesn’t save you but it does declare your new life in Christ. That is the picture that Paul is alluding to here. When a person is baptized, they are placed helplessly under the water. That is the reason that sprinkling can never furnish the proper picture that baptism portrays in the New Testament. The baptism of an individual is the first declaration of his death to an old life and the resurrection of a new one. That is the first step for a Christian – following the Lord in believer’s baptism.

You see, your baptism is a spiritual obituary to the world. I am sure that we don’t make enough of that in the baptism experience. Paul says, “We died with Christ!” Jesus not only became our substitution when He died for us, we received our identification with Him. For Christ not only died for sin, bearing it’s penalty; but we died to sin, breaking it’s power. This means we can have victory over the old nature that wants to cause us to sin and control us. We must declare death to sin.

Two young sisters used to attend wild parties and live reckless lives of abandon. But in their teens, they were converted and found new life in Christ. When they received an invitation to one of these wild parties, they sent their RSVP in these words, “We regret that we cannot attend because we recently died.”

There is a second positive way we are to declare our death to an old life and that is in testimony – confession of Christ. We don’t make as much of Christian testimony today and I believe we are the worse for it. When we bring someone into the baptismal waters, we ask them to tell about how they came to Christ. What we should ask them is, “Is it your desire and intention to live for Christ by leaving your old life behind?” Becoming a Christian is not just being immersed in water, it is coming to terms with death. Confession of Christ is not just about being baptized. That is only the first step on the long road of the Christian life. We must confess Christ to others as the source of our life. Jesus said, “If you confess me before men I will confess you before my Father which is in heaven.” Do you think He means that?

II. We must live upstairs because we have a new life in Christ

Paul challenges us to, “Seek the things that are above and not the things of the earth” (Colossians 3:2) This brings us to at least one other way to declare our death through living for Christ. Paul says, “We must live in Christ” (Colossians 3:4). In Philippians Paul says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Colossians 1:21). The choice is not just to use language unbecoming a Christian. The choice is not to go to those places that will not mare our testimony. We must choose to do the things that are becoming to a Christian.

Since we have received His Holy Spirit when we became a Christian, we are empowered to live the new life in Christ. Paul uses the term “Hidden with Christ in God.”

That speaks of our security we have in Christ. I like what an old preacher said, “If the Devil tried to get through to your soul, he would have to bust through the love of God. If he got through that, he would have to overcome the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. If it were possible for him to do that, he would have to break the power of the Holy Spirit and friends, if he got that far, he would have to get saved.”

It speaks of our satisfaction. The hymnist wrote, “Satisfied with Jesus”:

I am satisfied with Jesus,
He has done so much for me,
He has suffered to redeem me,
He has died to set me free.

I am satisfied, I am satisfied, I am satisfied with Jesus,
But the question comes to me, As I think of Calvary,
Is my Master satisfied with me?

It also speaks of our source for this new life. We don’t have to depend on our ability to say no to sin, we come to Christ for new strength to make the right decisions. We pray and ask God to help us. That is what Jesus taught us in the model prayer He gave to His disciples, “Deliver us from evil.” “… our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:6), says Paul.

May I say the new life draws on the Word of God to be victorious. We must do as did Jesus when He faced temptation. Give the Word of God to the enemy. He can’t come against that.

III. We must live upstairs because of the future glory that awaits us

Paul pictures Jesus at the right hand of the Father. We must understand this is a figure of speech. He doesn’t mean you could see God and Jesus at the same time. First, because God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Secondly, because they are One. If you could see both of them that would be what is called modalism – two separate personalities. No! “Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Christ at the right hand of the Father is a figurative expression denoting the supreme privilege and authority of Jesus.

Well, what are some of the things we must leave behind in the cellar of life? Indeed, we are to put them to death. We are to crucify them in our flesh. I have only time to mention them briefly:

1. Fornication – refers to sexual immorality in general
2. Uncleanness means lustful impurity that is connected with loose living.
3. Evil concupiscence denotes base desires.
4. Covetousness is the sin of always wanting more or that which is not ours.

After warning against sensual sins Paul points out the dangers of social sins:

5. Anger, wrath and malice have to do with lack of self-control.
6. Blasphemy describes the slander of others under the guise of spiritual concern.
7. Filthy communication has to do with dirty stories and crude language.
8. Lying is the misrepresentation of the truth even if the words are accurate.

Bishop Warren A. Chandler was speaking on the lie of Ananias and Sapphaira when he asked this rhetorical question, “If God struck people dead for lying, where would I be.” But before he could finish the audience broke out in laughter. Then the Bishop shouted, “I’d be right here preaching to an empty church.”

At Christmas one of our dear members gave each of the staff a copy of this little book entitled The Prayer of Jabez. Every Christian ought to read it at least three times. It was just what I needed and when I needed it. It is the miraculous story of what God can do in a person’s life who sincerely prays the prayer of Jabez.

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
and enlarge my territory,
that Your hand would be with me,
and that You would keep me from evil, That I may not cause pain.’
So God granted him what he requested.” (1 Chronicles 3:10)

That’s living upstairs.


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