Summary: We can either think from an earthly point of view or a heavenly. Here’s seven reasons to reject the first, and seven reasons to embrace the last.
May 25, 2003 Colossians 2:20-3:3
“I pledge allegiance”
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Where does your allegiance lie? A couple of months ago, just as the Iraqi war was getting ready to begin, I heard the story of one soldier who was preparing to depart for armed service even though his young child was desperately ill with a defective heart. He was given the opportunity to change jobs and sit behind a desk here in the States rather than going to Iraq so that he could be with his family during this trying time. He refused this offer. As his reason for doing so, he simply stated that he needed to go so that he could be there to lead the men he had trained. His allegiance was to them. You may or may not agree with this soldier’s system of priorities, but can I suggest to you that this kind of devotion is exactly what Jesus expects out of us. (Luke 14:26-27) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Jesus expects our total devotion even to the point that obedience to Him may be dangerous, costly and even deadly for us or for our families.
This weekend, and especially tomorrow, we will honor those who chose to give their allegiance to the United States of America by serving in her armed forces. They had to choose between doing what they wanted to do and what sounded good to them, or becoming part of something that was higher than themselves and living a sacrificial life. Like these men and women have done, each of us has to choose who will hold our allegiance throughout our lives. The choice for us is the same as it is for them. Do we live for ourselves in our own way of thinking, or do we set our sights higher and choose to live and think according to God’s standards?
This morning, I want to present both options to you and then give you 7 reasons to refuse allegiance to a worldly way of thinking followed by 7 reasons to declare your allegiance to a heavenly way of thinking.
I REFUSE TO PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO WORLDLY WAYS OF THINKING BECAUSE:
1. I died to them. “died with Christ”
This is the 2nd time in this chapter that Paul has used this phrase “the basic principles of this world”. The 1st time is at the end of vs. 8. In that verse, these “basic principles” are tied together with “hollow [or empty] and deceptive philosophy”, and they stand in opposition to Christ. Look with me at one other passage of Scripture that can help us understand these basic or elementary principles – Galatians 4:3. [read it] This exact phrase is not used again, but the same idea is spoken of again in vs. 9 of Gal. 4. [read it] If I had the time, I’d take you through Galatians 3-4 to show you what Paul is talking about with this phrase. I would encourage you to read these two chapters on your own. Just from the few verses that we have read about these principles, it is clear that they were something that we lived by before Christ and something that these Colossian Christians were in danger of going back to. It is also clear that they are “empty”, “deceptive”, “weak” and enslaving. They have no power to help you live a free life. Taking the things spoken of in Col. and Gal., the basic principles of life has to do with man’s own ideas about how he can be right with God. That way is through keeping the law, by being good. It is the “idea of achieving divine acceptance by one’s own efforts.” – John MacArthur, Galatians That’s the way the Jews used to think before Christ came and told them that the way to God was not through the Law but through faith. Yet many of them still thought that faith in Jesus was not enough. And people today have the same idea. “If I can just be good enough, then God will love me and let me into heaven.”
Paul says that when you came to Christ and placed your faith in Him, you died to that way of thinking and all those other silly and deceptive ideas that you used to have. Things like, “My purpose in life is to accumulate as much stuff as I can and to have fun” or “Everyone has to look out for himself because nobody else really cares about you.” The basic principles of the world are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life – what feels good, looks good and makes me look good (1 John 2:16) Those are thoughts that a child might think and that drive him to do the things that he does. Paul says in 1 Cor. 13, “when I became a man, I put childish ways [and particularly childish ways of thinking] behind me”. I died to that way of thinking when I came to the cross and offered myself to Jesus, so I refuse to give me allegiance to those kind of thoughts any longer.