We're gonna turn to the word of god now. Colossians chapter 2 carrying on our series. Colossians chapter 2 and verse 6. Colossians 2 and verse 6.
Paul's writing to the church that meets in Colosi and Leah Garcia. And he says, so then, just as you received Christ Jesus as lord, continue to live your lives in him. Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no 1 takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ for in Christ, all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority in him You were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.
Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by him, by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him. Through your faith in the working of god who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins, And in the uncircumcision of your flesh, god made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness which stood against us and condemned us has taken it away, nailing it to the cross, and having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them. Triumphing over them by the cross.
Keep that word open, and Tom is going to open it up to us. What are you? My name is, my name's Tom, and, I'm 1 of the masters here. And as Pete just said, it would be great if you could, let me unmute myself. That would be great.
Let me go. It'd be great if you could keep that bible passage open in front of you and, let's pray to the lord as we look into it together. Father, as, and already said in her prayers, we we ask you please that you would speak to every single 1 of us here this morning, that we would hear your voice and as we reflect together on the great triumph of the cross and the forgiveness of our sins and the death of our old nature, you would empower us to live this new resurrection life to which we have been called, and we pray in Jesus' name, amen. Well, in, in almost every house, there are jobs that need doing and I'm sure this is true in your house. It's certainly true in mine.
Little jobs. You know, there's the the taps that might have a a slow leak. Or there's a a hole or a crack in the wall. That needs filling, or there's a light bulb that's been out for months and, could really do with changing. Or there's some old wallpaper that you never got round to taking down and it's peeling away.
Or there's a hinge that squeaking somewhere in the house every time you open or close a door, and it's amazing how we we just learn to to tolerate them or how I learn to tolerate them. I won't speak for you, but it's amazing how I learn to tolerate them. I mean, when you first notice it, you think I must get that fixed. You know, I must get round to that. Next Saturday, I'm gonna go down to b and q, and I'm gonna get what I need to fix that, but then 5 years later, in our case, it's still happening.
Now 1 reason for that, is, is laziness, another reason in my case is incompetence, and I'm just not really sure how to fix it. But mainly lots of these little jobs are just not that serious, are they? I mean, if the roof started falling in, or if the boiler packed up in the middle of January Well, that's a whole different story. Everything goes on hold until that's fixed. You know, take leave from work.
If you need to, you'll part with whatever money you need to pay. You've got it. Those are the sort of jobs you cannot leave and you must get sorted. But these are the jobs in an ideal world, you'd want them fixed. But over time, you learn to tolerate them, and in fact, they become a quaint little part of your your life and your house.
And sadly, I think, and again, you know, true of me, maybe maybe not of you, but when it when it comes to, when it comes to my own it comes to my own sin and my own battle with sin, I often treat it more like a leaky tap than a collapsing roof. In other words, I'd rather that it wasn't there, but over time, it just becomes part of part of life. And that which I which I guess is is true for lots of us here is hard to square with what Paul says about our attitude to sin. In colossians 3 verse 5. Perhaps if you've got your bible open, you can just flick over a page.
Colossians 3 verse 5. Put to death Therefore. Whatever belongs to your earthly nature, put it to death, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed which is idolatry because of these the wrath of god is coming. You see, 1 other reason why I might ignore a leaky tap in my house is because it poses no threat to me. But if I discover that my boiler is leaking carbon monoxide into the house.
Well, that's gonna get my attention because that's not the sort of job that I can leave. All of a sudden, there is something in my house which threatens the life of my family. And so I'm not gonna say to Laura at that point, do you know, I think these things have a way of fixing themselves. Why don't we just give it a week and, and see and see how we go whilst the monoxide alarm is beeping away in the bedroom? I'm not gonna suggest we just give it some time.
You're gonna get everybody out of the house. You're gonna stay with a friend. You're gonna do whatever is needed to get it fixed. Because that is the sort of job that poses a threat to your life. That's the language of verse 5.
Are you gonna allow prides and sexual immorality and lust to share your house with you. Even though the alarm is going off all around you, you're going to leave it and hope that it's just going to go away and fix itself over time. Are you going to show mercy to something which is bringing the wrath of god upon the world? Are you gonna give quarter to something that provokes the just anger of god against humanity? Whatever belongs to your earthly nature, put it to death.
But here's the question and this sets us up for colossians 2. How do you do that? And here's where it gets tricky because it kind of depends who you ask. So if you were to ask some of the false teachers here in colossians, they would say, well, you know what? Killing sin might actually be easier than you think.
I mean, have you tried for instance that old testament law? Because once you get going with those, that will turbocharge your holiness. I know you're gentiles and this may be a bit weird, but look, let me tell you about circumcision. And let me tell you about a strict diet and a sacrifice. Let me tell you about the special days and the the festivals and the passover.
And if you will just begin to submit yourself to an old testament Jewish legal life, it'll do wonders for your sanctification. Put your sin to death by putting on this legal life. That was their message, and you should do it because that's where measurable progress can be seen. Put to death your sin by putting on this legal life. And still today, although perhaps in a different form, that temptation lives on, isn't it?
1 very good way to cover over the sins of my heart is to put on a legal life. To give you the impression outwardly that I'm very strict and serious about my Christianity because look how legal my life is, but actually in the quiet of my own life, I leave the heart unchecked and undealt with. I've definitely fallen for that 1. Trouble is what Paul says in colossians 2 verse 23 just exposes all of that. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, of course they do.
With their self imposed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body, but what's wrong with them? When it comes to fighting sin, what's wrong with them? They lack any value in restraining, essential, indulgence. In other words, trusting in the outward to deal with the inward will never at a heart level change you. It's like that boiler that's broken and leaking carbon monoxide side into the house.
I mean, I could do all kinds of things with it, couldn't I? I could clean the casing. You know, I could wipe it down with a with a with a couple of wipes polish up the outside. I could dust it. I could look at the pipe work and I could polish it and make it look all clean.
I could invite you upstairs to see it when you're over for dinner, and I could say this is a new worcester Bosch, you know, I've only had this, you know, I bet it's better than yours, you know, it's it's brand new. Look at it. And all all from all the outward signs, it would look like a healthy, polished boiler. And yet if carbon monoxide is seeping out of it, all of that stuff is just mucking around. It's the heart.
It's the heart that needs dealing with. But okay. If that's not gonna work, What is the answer? How do we obey colossians 3 verse 5? Put to death there for whatever belongs to your earthly nature?
Well, the answer is right here in these verses, we've just read colossians 2 11 15. Paul uses 3 images here He uses the surgeon's knife. He uses the watery grave and he uses a ripped up record. 3 images to show us that in Christ, our relationship to sin has fundamentally changed forever. In 3 verse 5, he says put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature.
How do you do it? By remembering to verse 11 that your whole sinful nature was put off. When you were circumcised by Christ. It's already gone. Put to death whatever belongs to it.
How do I do it? By remembering dead and buried, cut away from me, thrown away utterly renounced in Christ. Verse 12, having been buried with him in baptism. Again, it's dead. It's in the ground in which you are also raised with him through your faith in the working of god.
That's how you fight. First picture then to rub this in is the surgeon's knife, the surgeon's knife. Now, the reason I choose the surgeon's knife is because in verse 11, Paul picks on something, which in our part of the world and in our time of history does sound a little bit odd to talk about. But in the new testament church, this was a recurring very significant issue. And so in verse 11, he says, in him, you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands, your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ.
So very simply He talks about a circumcision done by human hands, and he talks about the circumcision of Christ. Now what is that all about and how do those things relate to each other? Well, we've used this illustration here before, but I but I think it is helpful when it comes to the difference between signs and reality. So you imagine that after the service, you decide to go to West wittering. Okay?
Let's imagine it's not November, but it's June or July. And after the service, you decide to go to West Wittering. Now, unfortunately, your phone has died And so you're gonna have to use road signs. If you don't know what they are, they're sort of metal poles that go in the ground, and they tell you where you ought to go. Okay?
You're gonna have to follow the road signs. Now, it's almost too obvious to say, but when you see that first sign to West Wittering, you will not stop there, get out your deck chair, put on your wet suit and, have a cup of tea. You will not set up base for the day beneath the sign because you instinctively know without ever being taught that that is not West wittering, that that is a sign for West wittering which you will follow so that you can enjoy the reality that every sign was pointing to. In other words, the sign is important, but it's not a substitute for the reality. The sign is important, but it's not a substitute for the reality.
Well, look, in Genesis chapter 17 and you can read about it there, God says to Abraham, when a boy in your family, not girls, just boys, when a boy in your family is 8 days old, or when a man comes into Israel from another country, he is to be circumcised as a sign. It is just a sign. It's an outward sign that that person is now separate from the world that he is not like the nations around him and will not worship their gods, but rather that he belongs in the family of the covenant God. It was a sign. But then like all signs, it was pointing beyond itself to a far superior reality which they were meant to grow up and embrace and lay hold of and take for themselves.
And again, I know this is kind of strange language and sounds a bit odd, but have have a look at deuteronomy verse 10 and see what Moses also said about the reality. To the lord your god belongs to heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth, and everything in it, yet the lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them and he chose you their descendants above all the nations as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff necked any longer. For the lord your god is god of gods and lord of lords, the great god, mighty, and awesome. And you know as you read through the old testament, you see that this was 1 of the biggest problems.
And this really was the reason that whole generations of Israelites either died or went into exile. They started to trust in the sign and would not seek after the reality. They started to trust in the outwards and not care about the inward to which the outward was pointing. You see, like all of the ceremonies and the rituals in the Old Testament, circumcision was never meant to be a substitute for devotion to the lord. It was never meant to replace genuine affection for the lord.
Instead, the law was given in order to fire devotion for god and to channel devotion to god in the right direction and to encourage heart level worship. It was never meant to replace that It was given to show them what it looked like that they might love him. That was why it was given. And so the idea in the old testament and you see this time and time again in the prophets that you could sacrifice your bulls but hate your neighbors or eat the right food but worship the wrong god in your heart. Or circumcise your body outwardly but leave your heart out in the cold is utterly foreign to Old Testament worship.
And so you can see that the nonsense of these false teachers is revealed. Because they seem to be saying to these gentile Christians that you need to become like unfaithful Old Testament Israelites. That's what you really need to be. An unfaithful old testament Israelite who trusts in the outward but ignores the heart. And Paul says in verse 11, why on earth would you do that when the reality that every sign was pointing to is yours in Christ.
It's like you're on the beach at West Wittering. And the sun is shining, and you're really there. It's a beautiful day, and you can feel the sand within your toes, and you might go splash around in the shallows and have an ice cream and you're with your friends and your family. And then there's somebody there who taps you on the shoulder in a dark suit and dark glasses and says, I know it looks good here, but you know what's better? That first sign that you saw on the M 25 to Westwood.
That's way better than here. Yeah? You should go back there. Come on, he says verse 11. In him, Christ, you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.
You have the reality to which the sign was pointing, why would you substitute the reality for the sign? Why would you do that? Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ. That phrase put off means to thoroughly renounce. It means to cast away.
It means to be done with forever, circumcision by the hand was a signpost to a far better thing to that work of Christ in the heart of his people and Paul is saying to us and to the colossians, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, god has taken a Stanley knife to your past, and to your mistakes, and to your guilt, and to your sin, and he has cut away everything that separated you from God. That that is what it was always all about. The far superior work of Christ in the heart and you have it You have it, so don't go anywhere else. So chapter 3 verse 5, put it to death. How do we do that?
Where we remember the surgeon's knife that Christ has cut it away from inside our hearts and we can carry on in him. Secondly then, and very much connected to that is the watery grave. So we've had, the surgeon's knife and here's the watery grave and see how it goes in verse 11 to 12. In him, you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of god who raised him from the dead.
So can you see how the image moves from the surgeon's knife in verse 11 to the watery grave in verse 12. Now, if you've ever been to a baptism at the hub or anywhere else. We always use, well, we use the language at the hub of birthday, birthday, and burial day. Birthday, birthday, and burial day. And we use those words to describe what baptism is all about.
It's a birthday. Because it celebrates the beginning of a new life in Christ, a born again, new life. It's a birthday because it symbolically pictures the washing away of sin. When somebody goes down into the water, it's as if the sin is cleansed, and they rise to a new life. It's a picture of that of what Christ has done.
And it's a burial day because if somebody goes down into that water, It's like they're being laid into the tomb. It's like they're saying goodbye and farewell to the old nature, and rising again to a new life. If it's a birthday, it's a birthday, it's a burial day. I love this language that is used in 1 old confession of faith. This is called the 16 89 London Baptist confession of faith, not to be confused with the 16 44 Baptist confession of faith.
Here we go. 16 89 or 16 84. I don't word. Some language here. Baptism is an ordinance of the new testament, something ordained, something sovereignly commanded and given.
By Jesus Christ to be onto the party baptized or onto the person, a sign of his fellowship with him. In his death and resurrection of his being engrafted into him of remission of sins forgiveness, cancellation, and of giving up into god through Jesus Christ to live and walk in newness of life. I love that language. It is a sign that somebody has come into fellowship with Jesus priced, that they have been engrafted into him, that they are united to him, that their sins have been dealt with that a new life has been won and that they are saying I want to now surrender my life to follow the lord Jesus Christ. That's what a baptism proclaims and demonstrates.
And so you can see that baptism is not like circumcision in Genesis 17. It's very significant that. And I know it's a little bit of heavy lifting this, but, it is important to see what he's doing here. It is not the same as circumcision in Genesis 17. It's very significant that Paul does not go from circumcision by the hand verse 11 to baptism in verse 12.
He puts in a critical middle step, which is very, very important for understanding the relation between these things. Firstly, there's circumcision by the hand, that's the sign verse 11, then there's circumcision of the heart That's the critical middle step. That's what everything was pointing to. And then thirdly, there's baptism which celebrates the reality. Do you see that?
So baptism does not arc back to Genesis 17 circumcision because it's not the same thing. Circumcision by the hand is a sign that points to circumcision of the heart. That's the reality and baptism celebrates the reality. What has been done in the heart. In other words, it is not just water on the body.
It is a sign of the converting work of Christ in the heart of a person. Or to use the language of this passage, when somebody stands up to be baptized, they are proclaiming to family and friends that verse 11 is true of them. That my old self ruled by the flesh was put off when I was circumcised by Christ. Do you see? Baptism is not a sign just given by human hands.
It is a declaration that the happy reality lives in my heart. And this is why we encourage all believers in Christ, those who have confessed him to be lord, and have experienced all that is true in that confession to be baptized because when we repent of our sin, and trust in Jesus Christ, there is a colossal change in the heart. The old master sin is cut away by the knife is lowered into the grave, and we rise again in the lord Jesus Christ. So do you see how these images are connected, circumcision of the heart having been buried with him in baptism? And so to tie it into our main question, if you want strength for the battle, remember that baptism.
And what it illustrates and what it declares about your relationship to sin. It's dead. Now put it to death. Thirdly then, and finally, last image is the ripped up record. This is the ripped up record.
So in 0.1, We were in the operating theater. In 0.2, we were at the graveside, and now thirdly we're in the courtroom. And you can notice the legal language here. In verse 13 to 14. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ.
He forgave us all of our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness which stood against us and condemned us. He has taken it away nailing it to the cross. A few of us on the staff team recently went to Black Paul for a for a conference and, we were we were staying in an Airbnb. And if you, if you've ever done that, if you've ever booked an Airbnb, you'll know that on the website, there are the house rules. There are things that the owner of this house would like you to do while you're staying in their home.
So you might have things like please strip the beds at the end of your stay. Please leave your used towels in the corridor. It would help us if you could put recycling in the green bin And on and on it goes, there's all kinds of laws for the time that you have in the house. And really, the owner is saying, look, in your house, you're the boss and you can do whatever you like with your recycling. But when you're in my house, there are some rules that I love would like you to abide by.
And, you know, in some ways, in some small ways, life is a little bit like that. 70 or 80 or 90 years is not is not a long visit. This is only a temporary visit. Only a temporary stay. On this earth.
And given that the house we live in is owned by the lord, it's not our place. We didn't make it. It's not our house. We are under his rules. Now the key difference is that god is not just an internet landlord.
He is a loving heavenly father and his laws are less about keeping the place tidy and more about teaching us how to love him and how to love our neighbors. Jesus actually summarizes the law that way, doesn't he? He says that the heart of the law is teaching us how to love vertically, how to love god, and how to love our neighbors. And yet, Paul says in these verses, that that very same law stands against us and condemns us. You see, with Airbnb, it's sort of up to you what you do.
I mean, you can read the rules online, but then when you're living in the house, you can ignore them if you want. I mean, it's not very considerate and you'll probably get a bad start rating after you've been, but you it's not a huge deal. You can you can sort of do what you want. But if we don't submit to god's laws in god's house, well that's a problem. See verse 14, the charge of our legal indebtedness which stood against us and condemned us.
It's as if we've moved into god's house for the weekend. We've invited all of our mates around. We've utterly trashed the place from top to bottom without any thought for the master and then we've walked out. What is the landlord gonna say when he comes? The laws he gave us have all been broken, and the damage that we have done cannot be repaid.
And worst of all is the grief that we've caused him. See, I don't know about you, but my my debt, my legal indebtedness to the law of god is huge. It's huge. I can imagine it on judgment day when the books are opened coming into the courtroom of God and reading the charge against me. How did Tom get on with the laws of the house?
You shall have no other gods before me. How did he get on with that? Guilty. He shall not make for himself an image of anything. He shall not exchange what is properly god's by worshiping something that is not god.
How did he get on with that? He shall not treat the lord's name as if it is a light trivial thing. He shall not blaspheme and bring down the name of the lord. How did he get on when he was in the house? Guilty.
How about honoring the Sabbath Day resting in the lord and looking for rest in Jesus and nowhere else? How did he get on when he was in the house? He failed. Honor your father and mother and respect all the loving authorities that god has put in his life. How did he get on while he was in the house?
He failed. Shall not murder. How did he get on with that in the house? Well, he didn't do it with his hands. But with his head and his heart, he did guilty.
Shall not commit adultery. How did he get on in the house? Same deal. I'm afraid. Maybe not with his hands, but with his head and with his heart, he failed.
What about stealing? Did he steal anything from the house? Did he break into what belongs to the lord and take it for himself? I'm afraid he did guilty. What about lying?
How did he get on with lying and bearing false testimony in the house? Did he do that? I'm afraid he did that in more ways than this scroll can even detail. He lied and he exaggerated the truth and he muddied the truth in order to put others down and get off things himself and do whatever he needed to do guilty. And how about coveting when he was in the house?
Did he desire anything that belonged to 1 of the other neighbors? Did he want what was theirs and wasn't happy with what he had, guilty? He did that as well. And on and on and on, it goes. The charge of my legal indebtedness is stacked up to the heavens.
And so what is the verdict, your honor? Verse 14, the charge of Tom's legal indebtedness stands against him and condemns him. But you see wrapped around that verse. Is the best news for debtors, like me. God made you alive with Christ He forgave us all of our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness which stood against us and condemned us.
He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 1 commentator writes this. To place a written accusation above every condemned criminal meant at least that a man's crimes placarded for everyone to see and read. Might serve as a justification for his punishment as well as a warning to others. In our lord's case, the accusation was a mockery as pilot well knew.
And yet according to the apostolic preaching, there was an accusation nailed there in god's purposes. An accusation against us and yet borne by Christ. King of the Jews, That's what his sign said. Remember, king of the Jews. That was his crime apparently that he claimed to be king of the Jews and it was put there to mock him and yet with the spiritual eye, the Christian looks to the cross and sees that there is in fact another sign there.
A list of crimes that have nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with us and yet who is it on the cross, not us, but him. And that is why I want to follow Jesus because I need him to pay my debt. I need him to go to the crime scene and destroy all the incriminating evidence against me. I need him to remove every trace of guilt and sin, and I need him to make me clean. And praise the lord, that is what he has done for me.
And it's what he has done for you if you're a Christian, and it's what he will do for you if you call on his name this morning. He will cancel and rip up the record that stands against you. See in our world, there's a very nasty form of cancel culture, isn't there? But the canceled culture of the gospel is an absolute delight because for those who will believe it means the cancellation of their sin forever. A few people in the church some years ago used to help out with an organization called CAP, which is Christians against poverty.
And they used to work to help people get debt free, people who stacked up all kinds of huge debts. They used to help them to manage their lives and put structures in place so that they could get debt free. And I remember watching a video 1 from the from the CAP Organization, whether it was at an evening we did or online, I can't remember. And apparently in the CAP offices, When 1 of their clients gets debt free, they have what's called the debt free celebration. In other words, all the staff in the office who've been working towards making this person debt free.
They put up the bunting and they get out the party poppers and they have a bit of cake together and they celebrate that 1 of their clients is now debt free. And you know, thanks to the lord Jesus Christ, we are in a lifelong debt free celebration. We didn't manage it ourselves He wrote it off for us, and we live on the party side of the cross, celebrating a debt finished forever. That is that that is what God is saying to us this morning. You know, I hope we don't think that these things are just like nice and things that we like.
The these are objectively true things that that god has accomplished for and wants us to enjoy this morning that the lord Jesus Christ died on a cross for your sins and that above his head was your debt. And though he did not deserve it, he paid for it. So that if you will say lord Jesus, please rip up my record this morning, rip up my record then your sin will be canceled, and satan's mouth will be shut, and you will be free. Just think of that brothers and sisters. Every accusation that the Bible ever makes against you consider it nailed to a cross.
Every lie that Satan ever whispers to you consider it silenced at the cross. You are no more forgiven today than you will ever, And therefore, when you read colossians 3 verse 5, put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature, you can go at it ruthlessly because the battle is won. The surgeon's knife tells you that your old nature has been cut away. The watery grave tells you that you have been buried and began a new life. And the ripped up record assures you that there is now no condemnation for all who trust in Christ.
With those gospel truths, let's take the fight to sin shall we this week. Father, thank you for the achievement of our lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Thank you that the charge of our legal indebtedness, though massive has been paid for in full by the blood of a saviour who loves us. Thank you that when he left the tomb 3 days later, we rose with him and help us now knowing the gospel in our hearts to put to death whatever remains that we might live this new resurrection life to which you have called us and which you died to bring us into in Jesus' name. Our men.