Summary: Our identity is in Christ. Our spiritual power is as strong as is our understanding of that truth.
I. Series Introduction
a. Background: Who, What, When, Where, Why – v.1-2.
a. Paul found his identity in Christ. He presses the church and us to likewise find our identity in Christ, as highlighted in the text.
IV. CIT/CIS: Finding Identity in Christ produces thanksgiving and prayer.
a. Thanksgiving: Those who find identity in Christ are thankful. (v.3-8)
i. Paul was thankful because of the church’s faith in Christ.
ii. Paul was thankful because of the church’s love for saints.
iii. Paul was thankful because the church was filled with:
1. Faith, love, hope. (v.5)
2. Because of the Gospel, the word of truth. (v.5)
iv. The Gospel bears fruit wherever it goes. (v.6)
v. The Gospel bears witness to the fullness of God’s grace. (v.6)
vi. The Gospel bears believers when proclaimed. (v.7)
b. Prayer: Those who find identity in Christ never cease praying. (v.9-14)
i. Paul prayed for the church to find knowledge and wisdom.
1. Knowledge & wisdom are not synonymous. (I Cor. 1:20)
2. Natural wisdom is not enough. (II Cor. 1:12)
3. Our identity is supernatural. (John 3:3)
4. Wisdom is the supernatural gift of God. (II Chro. 1:11-13)
ii. Identifying with Christ is the basis for a fruitful life. (v.10-11)
iii. Believers are rescued from darkness to the kingdom. (v.13-14)
“Thanksgiving and Prayer,” Colossians 1:1-14
Colossians: Our Identity in Christ, Part-1
Background: The book of Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul from Rome during his first imprisonment there to the believers at Colossae. At about the same time Paul wrote Ephesians and Philemon (60-62). Colosse was in the Lycus Valley, about 100 miles east of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Its name is possibly derived from Colossus, a large statue, which in turn may have been named for the unusual shape of stony deposits there. Colossae is about 12 miles from Hierapolis and Laodicea, the lukewarm church mentioned in revelation.
Three purposes seem to have been in Paul’s mind as he wrote Colossians. First, he sought to show the deity and supremacy of Christ in the face of the Colossian heresy (Col_1:18; Col_2:9). Apparently at least some of the believers had fallen into one of the heresies of the early church – likely a Gnostic heresy which took many forms in the early church, often denying the divinity of Jesus. Second, he wanted to lead believers into spiritual maturity (Col_1:28; Col_2:6-7). Third, he wanted to inform them about his state of affairs and elicited their prayers on his behalf (Col_4:2-8).
As we move forward in this sermon series our emphasis will be upon Paul’s emphasis of the divine nature of Christ and our finding our identity in Him.
In much of the south, a common sight is trees completely covered with kudzu vines. Often these lush-green leafy vines completely hide the tree and even small houses. Although imported to be a ground cover to combat erosion, these vines are now a curse. Covering acres and acres of excellent timber and farmland, they slowly destroy other vegetation. And the kudzu begins as a little seed but is almost impossible to eliminate, once it sets its woody roots.
Spiritual and moral kudzu vines choke our world and hide our true identity. They begin as insignificant seeds of thought and grow into massive systems of destructive thinking, completely distorting and hiding our real nature, even from ourselves.
In the parable of the sower Jesus warned about weeds that choke the true plant and keep it from bearing fruit. The kudzu vine is not really the tree whose exterior it covers. It is a foreign element so attached to the tree that one could easily mistake it for the tree itself.
If we are to bear fruit and become increasingly spiritually mature, able to withstand the attacks of the enemy; able to stand firm for Christ; we have to learn to find our only source of perfect strength – identity in Christ. Paul found his identity in Christ. He presses the church and us to likewise find our identity in Christ, as highlighted in the text. Spiritual maturity is a question of identity.
CIT / CIS: Finding Identity in Christ produces thanksgiving and prayer.
Thanksgiving: Those who find identity in Christ are thankful. (v.3-8) Today we live in a culture with a veritable epidemic of thanklessness. Just look around. Everywhere we turn we find abundantly blessed people complaining about what they don’t have. People with good health mock the suffering of others with complaints about crow’s feet or their need for cosmetic plastic surgery.
Rather than being thankful for what we have we complain about what we don’t have. In children that trait is called immaturity. What about when it’s in adults?
Folks with nice homes in safe neighborhoods who run down their home and only want more of what they don’t have. We have a real dilemma of thanklessness in our culture. Sadly, this is equally true in the churches today. We look at what the church down the street is doing and wonder why God isn’t blessing us that way?