How to be Ready for False Teaching in the Last Times

One of the signs that come before the return of Christ is exactly what
Jude is talking about in his letter, deceivers in the church who try
to lead God’s people astray. “For false Christs and false prophets
will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray,
if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). What are we to do in
response to this warning? Peter tells us two things we can do.
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you
are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your
own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:17–18)

(1) Grow in the grace of Jesus Christ. God’s grace to us, seen most
clearly in his giving of Jesus, is the foundation of our lives. We are
to grow in it, be nourished, and strengthened by the grace that we
don’t deserve but do receive. Growing in the grace of God insures that
we persevere to the end and receive our eternal reward. Thank God for
his gift of grace and continually pray for more.

(2) Grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Earlier, Peter says that
God has, “granted to us all things relating to life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him” (1 Peter 1:3). We have the Bible, which
is what we need to grow in our knowledge of Christ so that we can find
joy, comfort and salvation in his presence. There is great danger in
not growing in the knowledge of Jesus (see 2 Peter 2:20-21). Let us
allow the knowledge of Jesus Christ in his word grow us so that we can
stand firm until the end. “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have,
so that no one may seize your crown” (Revelation 3:11).

The Before-and-After of the Christian Life

Today’s text (Colossians 1:21-23) gives us a beautiful before-and-after picture of the Christian life. It is very common for advertising companies to use before-and-after images in order to prove the power and ability of the product they are trying to sell.  This is the sort of thing Paul is giving us here. This is your situation before Christ saved you: because of your sin, you were “alienated, hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.” This is your situation now by the grace of God: you are “reconciled” in order to be presented “holy and blameless and above reproach” before God.

This amazing, before-and-after picture does not make much of you.  It merely shows how far you have come in your spiritual maturity.  This picture clearly makes much of God’s power in the way He gives sight to the spiritually blind (Matthew 11:5). This picture glorifies God in the way He gives life to us: we who were “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  As your reflect on the sermon, remember the immeasurable grace of your savior Jesus Christ who, despite the fact that you were in rebellion against Him, loved you and saved you.  What an amazing God we worship.

The book of Colossians has been a huge blessing in my life.  If you are interested in going through Colossians in you devotional time, I would encourage you to consider The Hope of Glory by Sam Storms. My wife and I have been greatly blessed by reading this devotional together. I also recommend a book called The Hole in Our Holiness for anyone who would like to learn more about the joy of seeking holiness.

The Hope of Glory by Sam Storms

100 daily Meditations on Colossians

The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin Deyoung

Tells of God’s power to help us grow in personal holiness as we enjoy the process of transformation

Can Radical Heart Change Happen Outside of the Body of Christ?

In our text today (Eph 4:25-32) we are told to put away several natural, man-like traits (i.e.-falsehood, unrighteous anger, theft, corrupt talk, bitterness, wrath, clamor, slander, and malice) and put on several supernatural, God-like traits (i.e.-truth, righteous anger, honest work to have something to share, talk that builds up, kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness).  This is a call to radical heart change.  Can this kind of change happen outside the church?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian, assassinated by the Nazis during World War II, didn’t think so.  Upon his study of Scripture, he said in his book, Life Together:

“The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus.  The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is.  Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man.  And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness.  Only the Christian knows this.  In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.  The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth.  The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness.  The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God.  The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

If we are to put away all of these old-self practices, we cannot see them as merely sickness or weakness.  They are nothing short of sin.  Further, what better place to confront them, than within the body of Christ?  If we are to grow up in every way, into Christ, we need each part of the body (the church) to work properly, so that we grow and build one another up in love.

Old Self. New Self. Which Are You?

In today’s sermon text (Eph 4:17-24), we’re told to put off our old self, which is corrupt, deceitful, futile, dark in its understanding, alienated from the life of God, hard-hearted, callous, sensual, and greedy to practice every kind of impurity, & put on the new self, which is renewed in the spirit of our minds, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness & holiness.

And even though we only see 2 persons in view here, I would argue that the church contains 4 such types of persons:

(1)    There are old self people living old self lives.  They live their own life in their own power and their quite content to remain in their sin.

(2)    There are old self people trying to live new self lives.  They live life in their own power, apart from the Holy Spirit.

(3)    There are new self people living old self lives.  They believe they’ve had some point of conversion, they’ve had some noticeable fruit, but they continue to rely on themselves and ignore the Holy Spirit’s demands on their lives.  They have in some effect hardened their hearts.

(4)    There are new self people living new self lives.

And all but the last one lives in their own power.  They have in some form or fashion alienated themselves from the life of God.  They’re understanding has been darkened.  And what I hope you will consider is what category you fall into.  Are you an unbeliever—an old self person whose either trying or not trying to do what the Bible calls you to?  Are you a new self person who refuses to let God, through the Holy Spirit work on you, who constantly thinks that the pastor is talking about someone else when he’s preaching, or who is just generally ambivalent about the things of God?  Or are you a new self person who lives out your claim?

And the point is: you are to put off the old self—alienated from God—and put on the new self—made in the likeness of God.  How can you do that?  Look at Ephesians 4:25-32 and see how you measure up.