April 18, 2004
||"God's HDL Design:"
Pastor Brian Shimer
"Walking in the Resurrection Clothes"
Colossians 3: 15-17
When the two weavers came to town boasting of the magnificent clothing
they could weave, the emperor was intrigued. He fancied himself the best dressed not only in the county but the world, so if these weavers could weave such fine stuff, he must have some.
He hired them, and they went to work. But when he came in to see the cloth -- such fine cloth that only the most intelligent and wonderful of people could see it - the emperor was too embarrassed along with the rest of the people in his court to admit to the fact that he could not!
So, he boasted of the cloth's beauty, and everyone thought that they just must not measure up to snuff, for they could not behold this magnificent fabric.
Then when the trousers and robes were made, the emperor talked about how wonderful the cloth was, how exquisite the colors, even though neither he nor anyone else could see a thing.
Then came the great day when his magnificent new clothing was prepared and out the emperor went, parading through the streets wearing absolutely nothing. But as the people watched him walk by, they too knew that only the best of people could see these clothes, and were too proud to admit they could not.
All that is except one young boy who was the wisest and most honest of them all, for as the emperor walked past, he alone exclaimed: "But he hasn't got anything on at all!" And with his exclamation, all began to snicker and guffaw, for indeed, the emperor was not wearing a stitch.
Most of us are more alike in character to the emperor and the
people than to the little boy who could honestly say, "He's naked!"
We know we are called to be a holy people - a people set apart by God to live differently. We know that God has done great things in Christ to make peace between us and God. That we have a new nature purchased through the cross, but when it comes to our real living, we are as afraid as the emperor to say: "But, I have absolutely nothing on at all!"
The new clothing we wear in God's holiness is not like this stuff woven by the weavers. It is not something that only the most beautiful people can see. Actually, it is visible only in our behavior and most of all only visible to God. But there is evidence of that clothing which we can experience. We know then when we have shucked some clothes when the evidence is lacking. And then like the little boy we can enter honesty, telling God: "Here I stand, so very needy, naked before you."
Our lives in Christ are established through the cross. As Paul says in chapter 1 of this book we have been reconciled to God through the cross. The action of reconciliation is an action of peace making. We were enemies and now we are friends.
As Romans 5 says: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which was now stand" (Romans 5: 1-2).
We were in a foreign kingdom ruled by a tyrant bent against God, and now we are in God's kingdom. We were dead and God has made us alive. The weight of judgment hung over our heads, we lived under the "low lying black cloud of condemnation," but now we are freed from judgment. All the record of offenses against us has been nailed to Christ's cross. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," Paul wrote in Romans 8:1.
All this and still we can parade through life, decked out in our self-made armor, pretending with all our might with the people and the emperor that all is well while on the inside, all is not well. Within can be feelings that come against us: "I am stupid, a failure, the worst person alive, or an idiot." Oh yes, the list goes on.
Just a week ago my dear friend Bill made an observation that has been life-changing for me about the words of accusation. He said the accusations of the enemy are always "general statements". Like those I have just listed. They are such words as: "You are a terrible witness! You are a lousy pastor! You are a stupid man! You are a nagging woman!" Those are general statements. The enemy's attacks are of such general stuff. And we take it and it spins in our heads and we make is specific.
As a child is never disciplined by good parents for "general disobedience" so God never makes general accusations. God is specific. "Child, that word you spoke, it was wrong. Make amends. Repent." He will point at the word, the sentence, the attitude, or the action which was sinful. He will not just point at us and lay us in the dust.
This is so freeing. When an accusation comes, you can stand against it. Resist it for it is not of God. Remember, God is specific.
Within us can also be guilt over past sins, which we refuse to repent and release to Jesus. Within can be memories of past acts against us, which we have never brought to the cross. Within all this am more can militate against all God has granted for us to walk in. Within can be a constant stream of worries beating down our confidence in God. When this is the case the evidence God has given will be lacking.
So what is it?
A. The first is the role of peace in our hearts. Peace is given to be the umpire of our hearts. Peace is a gift from Jesus through the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said: "My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, give I to you." And this peace, this gift of reconciliation, guards our lives and hearts.
Does peace rule in your hearts?
This is evidence. IF peace is missing, something is messing with God's work in your life. You will not experience Peace: when you believe the accusers lies; or hold onto some sin, or worry instead of pray.
Peace is not ruling, and you are strutting naked through the streets of life.
How can you get peace? Deal with the stuff within you. Some is long term, but if you position yourself to face and change, what great fruit will come. I have talked with people over the years with long years of pain and lies inside. And what freedom happens as we ask Jesus into the places of hurt and pain and bring the lies to the cross in prayer. God moves to set people free.
I remember at a camp years ago the peace the flooded a dear young lost soul when she turned from all the sin to Jesus and opened the door.
Peace sometimes is not ruling in my life as I battle with some aspect of sermon preparation, or the mess on the desk, or the lies in my head. And I too need to repent, bring them to Jesus, and receive the peace He offers. Remember the hymn: "Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry …" what it is again? hat again? Yes, "everything to God in prayer…" (What a Friend we have in Jesus by Joseph Scriven).
Friends, you have peace. Paul says, "Let it rule in your hearts." He is saying, it is God's gift to you, an umpire for your daily living. "I'm ruled by peace, this does not have to conquer my feelings." Others may be fuming at the traffic jam, why you?
B. The second evidence given in this portion of chapter 3 is the command for Christ's Word to dwell in you richly. How much room in your heart is there for the Word? Is your mind occupied with the cares and concerns of life or with the greatness of God? "Great Peace have those who love your law," we read in Psalms (119:165).
What place does God's word have in your life? Do you just glance at the verse printed in a devotional once a day? Do you open your Bible daily to put it on the coffee table or to read it? Or do you never open it? IF never, I question where you are in Christ! I do not know how any Christian can be still living and never opening the Bible - it is food for the day!
But if the Bible has a low priority in your life, be assured, you are not following this command, and at that level are joining the emperor and people in their foolish nakedness. Just as they were deceived by the false words of those weavers, you will be living by the false words of the culture.
How else could people be applauding same sex unions, even people who claim Christian faith, unless it is because they have lost hold of the Word. They are believing deceptive lies and applauding shameful acts, rather than upholding the truth. Yes, the weavers are still at work and many are wearing their false creations!
The Word must dwell in our hearts richly as we teach and admonish one another, the Bible says. We cannot teach and admonish with all wisdom, without the Word.
So, what place does God's word have in your life?
Notice, the richness is heightened as we share with others, and as we come to worship and worship on our own, singing spiritual songs, hymns, psalms to God.
C. How do we sing to God? With thanksgiving, Paul writes. And he has already told us to hear the command to be "thankful". Thanksgiving means to have "good grace" in our lives. Just to be thankful daily for evey blessing, to speak it out, to find more things to say "thanks" for, to recognize that everything from breath, to body, to clothes, to house, to family, etc, comes from God and tell God you see it that way. This is an important piece.
D. And the last evidence - look at verse 17. "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed…"
What does that encompass? Do you ever speak or act in your day?
"Do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
I'd say if we only did those actions that we could truly thank Jesus for and believe He approved of and delighted in, there would be a whole lot less sin! And there would be a whole lot fewer people walking around in shameful nakedness - dressed in the culture's lies. Peace - the Word - Thanksgiving and living in His name are the four evidences God gives to see if we are dressed in His clothes or somebody else's garments. Check your hearts.