TRANSFORMED: COLOSSIANS 3 | Colossians
Monday— Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (v 2).
Her smile was the first thing people saw when Hallie entered a room. Pronounced dead at the scene of a five-car pileup, she had defeated all odds and three years later, the former track star was beginning to train again. “How’d you do it?” reporters wanted to know. “I set my mind on getting my legs back, so I did,” she answered. Craig had the same response when asked how he overcame poverty, a meth addiction, and a lack of education to become a bank president. “I set my mind on never going back to the life I was raised in, so here I am.” If setting our minds is so powerful, we need to know what it means.
When Paul says to set our minds, he’s not referring to positive thinking or visualizing success. He’s reminding Christians that when we received Jesus as Lord of our lives, we switched citizenship. We are no longer citizens of a broken world’s system. Our names are now included in God’s family roll call. Because of that, our priorities change. Our lifestyles change. And our interests change to match God’s interests. Rather than setting our minds on the problems of this life, we can set our minds on God’s kingdom and the future waiting for us. We overcome earthly despair by focusing on heavenly hope. Paul went on to tell us why: “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Joy and hope depend on where we set our minds.
Final Thought: Where have you set your mind: On things of earth or on things above?
Prayer: Father, help me evaluate where I’ve set my mind. I want to think it’s on you, but I am too tangled up with earthly passions that have no eternal value. Help me refocus, drop the worldly goals, and pursue yours. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (v 5).
“What are you holding!” screamed Allison to her six-year-old son. He grinned. “It’s a snake I found on the porch. I’m gonna tame it.” Allison grabbed a shovel. Racing to her son, she whipped the snake from his hands and stabbed it with the shovel, leaping out of the way of its thrashing tail. “MOM!” wailed the boy. “I wanted to keep ‘im!” Shaking, Allison dropped the shovel and knelt by her son. “Honey, that was a six-foot copperhead,” she said, pulling him close. “You can’t make friends with it. It can’t be tamed. It will bite you and try to kill you because that’s what poisonous snakes do. How about we get you a turtle.”
That’s how seriously God takes sin. Imagine how our Father feels when we wail, “But I wanted to tame it!” He whips it out of our lives and stabs it with bloody spikes that once held His Son to a cross. “That was wickedness,” He cries. “You can’t make friends with it. It can’t be tamed. It will bite you and try to kill you because that’s what sin does.” He’s even created Top Twenty Deadliest Sins lists and scattered them throughout the Bible so we can’t miss them. However, instead of memorizing the list and staying clear, we argue, “But I wanted to keep that one. It’s not as bad as the others. It’s not hurting anybody.” God isn’t kidding. He hates sin because He knows how deadly it is. We think we can tame our fleshly nature, teach it some Bible verses, take it to church, and make it behave. God says kill it. Go after it like a mom after a copperhead because it’s that dangerous.
Final Thought: What sins are you flirting with, believing you can tame them?
Prayer: Father, it’s time to get real. I have a whole box of deadly sins I’m trying to tame and they’ll do nothing but bite me. I invite you now to look inside that box and stab them all. Protect me from my own evil. I renounce it now. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— Because of these, the wrath of God is coming (v 6).
If we had to describe God’s nature based on what’s popular right now, He would be all love. All forgiveness. All mercy. All the time. His operating system would be nothing but Gracey-Gracilicious-Grace. The End. That’s a little odd because we don’t get that from the Bible. Neither Jesus nor the apostles preached anything like that. Instead, we get that from today’s man-centered, self-affirming, tell-me-I’m-amazing, half-Christians who claim to represent God’s word. We kinda understand why. They fear that if they tell the whole truth about God’s wrath against sin, no one will sign up, tune in, or buy their books.
So we end up with a watered-down, sanitized version of an anemic God who’s worried we won’t like Him. That’s not at all what the Bible says. It makes no apologies about calling our favorite sins “damnable” and warning that more people are going to hell than are going to heaven. Might be you. Eternity is too serious to take anything for granted. That prayer we prayed in elementary school might not be sufficient protection on Judgement Day because God’s wrath against sin is a real thing. It’s part of God’s nature and He isn’t apologizing about it, so we need to stop apologizing for Him. Wrath against sin is the reason Jesus came, so we can love the wrath of God as much as we love His grace and mercy. It’s part of His wonderful character.
Final Thought: God’s wrath is as much a part of His character as His love. They are equally wonderful.
Prayer: Lord God, the thought of your wrath scares me some. You poured out all the wrath you feel toward sin on your Son Jesus. If I’ve received Him as my Lord, I’m protected from that wrath. But if I’m keeping my sin, I’m not. Help me know. Amen.
Thursday— …you also used to walk in these ways. But now you must put aside all such things… (v 7).
Before and After pictures always draw an audience because we love transformations. Whether it be a house, a piece of furniture, or our own faces, Before and After photos remind us that nothing has to stay broken, ugly, or messed up. Think about your seventh-grade school photo. You thought you were hot stuff with that weird hairdo and outfit, but now that you see it for what it was, you’re so glad you don’t still look like that. (If you do, you might not understand the next paragraph.)
That’s how Jesus sees our hearts. We think we’re hot stuff, but He sees a seventh-grade photo and insists that we grow up. Sins we once thought cool are disgusting compared to the holiness of God. We may not have realized how disgusting those sins were back then, but when we let Jesus take over, we “put aside all such things.” Paul listed a few: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Those actions and attitudes belong to people bound for hell, not God’s adopted children. We will know we’ve moved past our seventh-grade photos when those sins no longer define our lives. We now see them like God sees them. But if we’re still defending them, we haven’t been transformed. Saving faith is changing faith. If we haven’t been changed, we haven’t been saved. Surrender to Jesus results in eternity-impacting transformation.
Final Thought: Does your life have clearly-defined Before and After pictures?
Prayer: Lord, have I put aside those sins that you condemn? Have I truly been transformed? Search my life for activities that should no longer define me. I want to be a walking testimony of your transforming power. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— Don’t lie to one another, since you stripped off the old self with its evil practices, and put on the new self… (v 9-10).
Derrick swiped his card again and frowned. The elevator doors still wouldn’t open. Kit came up behind him. “Trouble?” she asked. She swiped her card and the doors slid apart. “What’s the deal?” cried Derrick. Kit gave him a funny look. “Well…didn’t you get a promotion last week? Aren’t you moving up to the fifteenth floor? This isn’t your elevator anymore. You get the VIP treatment.” She pointed down the hall to the gold-plated doors. “I’ve heard that thing shoots you straight to the top, no stops. Who’d want to ride this clunky old thing when you can travel up in style!”
That’s what Paul wants to know. Who’d want to linger in Satan’s elevator when Jesus offers the VIP treatment? We were just another face in crowd, headed to hell with everybody else. Then Jesus reached down and plucked us out of the masses, cleaned us up, gave us a new identity, and declared, “You’re mine.” Our cards don’t work on Satan’s elevators any more and why would we want them to? Jesus’ travel plan shoots us straight to the top. Paul says we’ve stripped off our old self with its evil practices, like lying, and put on the new self. If Paul were to write a personal letter to you, what sin would he name in place of lying? “Don’t ______________, since you stripped off the old self with its evil practices.” If your old self still clings to you, strip it off so you can put on the new self, purchased with the blood of Jesus. You can’t ride both elevators.
Final Thought: Are you still using your old card to activate Satan’s elevator? If you’re a Christian, it shouldn’t work anymore.
Prayer: Father, too much of my life is still dominated by my old self. You’ve paid the price so I could be new. I invite you now to strip off my old self and clothe me in the righteousness of Jesus. May all I do be part of my new self.. In Jesus’ name, amen.