Summary: Paul tells the Colossians they need to keep their eyes on things above and kill off the things of this earth in their lives. How does that work?
OPEN: April 17, 1964 something unique and noteworthy took place in America… That event was the introduction of the Ford Mustang. On that day the following events took place:
1. A Mustang had been chosen as the pace car for a stock car race in Huntsville, Alabama. When it drove onto the track, thousands of people scaled the retaining wall to get a better look at it and the race was delayed for over an hour.
2. A cement truck crashed through the plate-glass window of a Seattle Ford dealer when the driver lost control of his vehicle. The reason: He was staring at the new Mustangs on display there.
3. A Chicago Ford dealer was forced to lock the doors of his show-room models because too many people were trying to get into them at the same time.
4. A Texas dealer put a new Mustang on a lift to show a prospective customer the underside of the vehicle. By the time his demonstration was over, the showroom was filled with people, and he had to leave the Mustang up in the air for the rest of the day.
5. A New Jersey Ford dealer had only one Mustang and 15 eager buyers, so he auctioned it off. The winner of the auction insisted on sleeping in the car to be sure the dealer didn’t sell it to someone else before his check cleared.
APPLY: Why did they do all this?
Why did people behave in such bizarre ways over a simple car? I mean they...
* crammed into showrooms and scaled retaining walls at races just to get a look at it
* One man slept in their newly purchased car
* And another man lost control of his vehicles because of the sight.
They did all of this because of a Ford mustang!
BUT it was THE car they wanted to see.
It was THE car they wanted to have.
It stood for everything they ever wanted in a vehicle
ILLUS: About 20 years ago, I knew a man in his 70’s who kept a vintage Mustang in his shed. He drove it ONLY on nice summer days. But otherwise he kept it the shed… and it was in mint condition. It was the car of his dreams. He had literally fallen in love with that vehicle and his love for that car caused him to behave in ways he NEVER would for any anything else in his life.
I. The church at Colossae had been visited by false teachers who tried to convince the Christians there that rules and regulations could change them. They tried to convince them that a strict life style would could make them moral.
But Paul wrote and explained that “such regulations … lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence." (Colossians 2:23)
In other words, rules and regulations couldn’t change you. Rules and regulations couldn’t make you a better person. Only Jesus could do that.
Now, in this 3rd chapter (having said that), Paul explains that:
God does expect us to change.
He does want us to be moral.
He does want our lives to be pure and undefiled.
BUT – God knows there is a better way to change us than by asking us to keep a list of do’s and don’ts.
Now, Paul does make a list of things that upset God…
Greed (which is idolatry)
He’s saying: if you want a list - consider this one.
BUT just understand... merely knowing the list will not change you. Knowing the list will not make you a better person.
In fact, even if you STOPPED doing all of those things, you wouldn’t necessarily be acceptable to God. Because lists and rules "lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence." Colossians 2:23
In fact… if I focus on the evil things on the list – that list will dominate my thoughts. It may, in reality, make it harder for me to not sin!
ILLUS: For example: Look at this picture on the wall. (we put a cute picture up on the wall).
For the next few minutes I want you to close your eyes, and I don’t want to think about this picture at all. (Close your eyes) NOW DON’T THINK about that picture you just saw!
(pause for a couple of minutes, periodically reminding them NOT to think about the picture)
NOW. How many of you had trouble not thinking about the picture you saw?
You see, the problem with trying to be moral by keeping a list of things you SHOULD’T DO, is that the list becomes that which you look at all the time! And thus, the list is what fills your mind.
And, because it FILLS your mind, the things on the list become hard to avoid. Another way of saying it: That which you keep your eyes on is that which shapes your thinking.