Summary: This is an expository sermon that teaches how to develop Christian character by abiding in Christ from The Exchanged Life perspective.
It’s my hope to help you be prepared to crack the character code in the message this morning. Paul in writing to the Christians at Colossae revealed the key to cracking the character code in chapter 3:12-14. It is summarized for us in the very first phrase of v.12 when he says . . . The NASB says it like this, And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on. . . The NIV says, clothe yourselves. So the key to cracking the character code is what we put on or what we clothe ourselves with.
To live with character requires having Jesus as Savior, Lord and Life. Oh, the Christian life is indeed an exciting adventure. It’s an inspiring pilgrimage filled with lots of challenges, failures, opposition and victories which all brings about transformation, growth and maturity in our lives. However, having Christ as Savior, Lord and Life is the real key to cracking the character code. So, let’s see if the Holy Spirit can help us with cracking that character code. How do we crack it? First of all by:
I. Putting On The Right Clothes v.12a
Or should we say, Putting on the Right Character. People in London, England and the beautiful British Isles wear kilts from time to time. They wear different clothes - their clothes may be a bit warm for our climate this summer, but these tee shirts should wear well for the casual occasion of attempting to crack the character code.
But that’s not what Paul is talking about when he suggests clothing yourselves with Christ or putting on Christ. The first word in verse 12 is “therefore” or as NASB puts it “And so” or as others have it “Since” which points back to the first part of Colossians 3:1a “Since, then you have been raised with Christ . . .”and verses 3-4a, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life . . .” From this context, what Paul is saying in verse 12 can best be understood by the Living Bible paraphrase, “Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life...” The point being, as a believer you’ve been given a new kind of life, Christ’s life. You see, when you received Christ, you died. You had to die to be reborn. Your old nature, self, spirit-man/woman died. A new you was created. Your character was changed. You don’t have two natures, you’re not a spiritual schizophrenic. Your spiritual identity was changed from sinner man/woman to saint man/woman. God changed your very nature, your spiritual personhood by crucifying your old spirit and starting all over again, not physically but spiritually. You’re a new creation, you’re literally a new spirit being.
So to crack the character code, you’ve got to embrace this spiritual reality and live like who you really are. And the only way you can do that is by putting on the right clothes - by putting on Christ. You’ve received Him as Savior and Lord. Now, you need to put Him on as Life each and every day. You must appropriate your new identity by faith. That’s the secret of cracking the character code. Also let me suggest you crack the character code by:
II. Being the Right Kind of Person v.12b; 13
How do you do that? By the Grace of God. By discovering and appropriating “the mystery. . . which is Christ in you..” (Colossians 1:27). That’s why Jesus came into you and me instead of alongside, under, behind or before us. He is the only one who has ever lived up to the character of Jesus Christ. So, He came into you and into me in order to express His life of rightness and victory and blessedness. When we discern, discover, understand, comprehend and appropriate His life we’ll be the right kind of person. We will be empowered to live on the outside what we really are on the inside.
And being the right kind of person is having characteristics like:
•compassion - tender mercies, an attitude of mercy and grace toward others that comes from the heart; genuine care about the feelings of other people, sympathizing, sensitive awareness to the hurts of others and willingness to help, sensing the needs of others and getting involved.
•kindness - tenderheartedness, loving words and actions that show concern and care for others; an ability to control one’s self-centered desires in order to serve the needs of others.
•humility - humbleness of mind which comes from a right view of ourselves and that comes from an awareness of our submissive status before God, totally dependent; thinking of others before yourself.
•gentleness - meekness, quiet strength, opposite of arrogance and asserting self, not being harsh in dealing with others, being mutually submissive to one another out of the fear of Christ.