Green Valley Sermons

Cooperating With God

Sunday, March 11, 2018        

Colossians 3:1-11


Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)

God is doing a work in our lives. He is shaping us in the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. So I ask you, are you cooperating with God as He works to help you to reach for some very lofty goals in your life?


When Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength He set before us an impossible task. We cannot reach this without His help. All that He does in and around us is to help us become what He wants us to be. If you think He is finished, I think you should think again.


God loves all people. His desire is that everyone should come to know Him and to be changed from people who love only themselves into people who love Him and then follow Him as He leads us to love others.


Jesus spoke to us about denying ourselves and taking up the cross and following Him. We are to consider ourselves to be dead to our old way of living, that is, living apart from God, living as if God does not matter.


Paul spoke here in Colossians of the old self and the new self. He said we should put off the old self and put on the new self. God wants us to change. Are we cooperating with Him as He works to change us?


He says we are to set our minds on things above and not on things of the earth. We are part of the Kingdom of God if we have accepted Him as Lord. Our lives are no longer about what they were before. We are not living to increase our wealth. We are now living to increase the Kingdom of God. We are no longer living for pleasure but to bring honor to our King. We are choosing to love Him and love those He loves. Love binds together all the virtues Paul has listed here with which we are to clothe ourselves.


The flesh leads us away from the goal God has set for us. God’s Spirit and His Word will lead us to strive to achieve what would be impossible on our own. It is not possible for us to love our enemies without God’s help. It is not possible to love God with all that is within us unless God Himself lives within us.


When we listen to the flesh, the old self, we fall short of God’s will for our lives. When we listen to God who has come to live within us, who has brought life to us, we will submit to Him and love Him because He first loved us.


Are we cooperating with God as He leads us to be the best that we can be? Are we cooperating with Him as He shows us where we fall short? Are we putting off the old self and putting on the new self which is created in Christ Jesus to perform the work He wants us to perform?


This passage, and others, give us lists of things to watch for that will help us to know the difference between the Spirit and the flesh.


The flesh, the old self, and the enemy lead us to give in to anger, resentment, malice, slander, and even rage. The Spirit leads us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Love or hatred, caring about others or caring only for ourselves are the choices we make every day.


When we begin to listen to God’s Word and His Spirit we begin to become the people we were created to be. It is only as we live in the presence of God that we are enabled to love as God loves.


When we ignore Him and live as if He has gone off to take a nap and is not concerned about us we begin thinking more about ourselves and less about Him and others.


Is this not what started the whole mess that we find ourselves in? Eve listened to the serpent who planted doubt in her mind about God’s goodness and His love for her. She listened and chose to act as if God was trying to make her life less than it could be. But God was protecting her from evil by His command. She chose to believe God did not have her best interest at heart and so she disobeyed His command.


Whenever someone sins and goes against what God wants for them, they take themselves out from under His protection and love for them. They choose themselves over God.


So who are we listening to? Do we listen to God who leads us to love and trust Him? Do we listen to the Holy Spirit that speaks peace to our souls as we go through the daily difficulties we all face? Do we listen to what the Bible tells us is the right way to live?

When we know God and are seeking to listen to Him, He teaches us to look at ourselves through the lens of His Word. He wants us to compare our thoughts and attitudes to what His people have shared with us as Paul has written to the church at Colosse.


We come together to learn from one another and to help each other to grow in our faith and our understanding of His truth. We learn to love here in the safety of the church. We learn to forgive those who are close to us. We go out into the world to love those who are not so easy to love.


Why do we love them? Why do we love our enemies? Our Father, who has forgiven us, wants us to. He wants us to show the world the love He has for them through His children.


God loves us and He is our Lord. We love Him because He first loved us. We forgive others because He first forgave us. We have compassion for those who do not know the love of God and we seek to win them to faith in Him.


Too often we treat those in the world as if they are not loved by God. We refuse to spend time with them because we are afraid. But God’s perfect love casts out fear and we go to them with the love of God in our hearts.


12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ…


If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have been raised with Christ. You were born of the Spirit. You are a new creation.


Since you have been raised with Christ how are we to live? What is to be different about us if we have been raised with Christ? In this passage and others like it, Paul talks about putting off the flesh and putting on the Spirit. This is something we work at. It does not come without some effort on our part. We must choose each day if we will put on the flesh or put on the Spirit.


Another way Paul expressed this was in speaking of walking in the Spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh. How do you know if you are walking in the flesh or the Spirit?


In Galatians 5, he spoke of the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. When we are living according to our own desires, living for ourselves we are walking in the flesh. When we are living for God and His purposes, we are walking in the Spirit.


Since we have been raised with Christ, are we cooperating with God to carry out the works that He has planned for us? Are we cooperating with God?


The flesh will lead us to think more about ourselves and our own needs. The Spirit will lead us to love God and love other people.


Paul’s lists here and in other passages will help us to recognize the difference between the choices we are making. But we must cooperate with God and put off the flesh and put on the Spirit.

We died and our life is hidden with Christ. When He appears, we shall be revealed as the creatures he intended us to be. In the meantime we are to work with God to change from the sinful creatures we are when we ignore God, into the persons we are when we are walking in step with Him.


Are you cooperating with God as He works at changing you from the person you were before you were saved, before you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, before He came into your life?


We need to look carefully at the list here that Paul shares with us and ask Him to help us see the truth about ourselves. He says we are to put off anger, malice, slander, and rage. If we have trouble with controlling our anger could it be that we are not listening to God, but to the flesh? If we speak about others in an unkind manner, always pointing out their faults, instead of building them up and encouraging them, maybe we are walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit.


We get angry when things do not go our way. When people do not do what we think they should do, when circumstances occur that we do not like we become angry. We need to put off our anger and leave these circumstances in the hands of God. We are not the Lord of our circumstances, but we try to be. We try to change other people and we get angry when they do not listen to us. Surrender them into the hands of the only one who can change them. Trust God to do the work in their lives that He wants to do. Pray for them.


God loves us and He wants what is best for us. We get frustrated when things do not go our way and we begin with anger and it grows into malice and perhaps even to the point of rage if we do not lay it aside and take up the mantle of one who is walking in faith.


Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience should characterize those of us who are walking in a relationship with God. As we listen to Him and follow Him, He will lead us to practice forgiveness and help us to forgive as we have been forgiven.


Humility will become the natural outcome when we are listening to Our Father. We begin to see that we cannot control life. We do not need to be in control, because the One who can control our circumstances is in charge of this world. We do not have the answers the world is looking for. All we can do is point them to the One who does have the answers.


Sometimes the best way to help others to find God is just to simply tell our story of how the Creator of the Universe has helped us to see how far short we fall from His design when we are walking in the flesh. He has he answers we need and they need.

Are we cooperating with God?


5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. (NIV)


God has a plan for our lives. It is a plan for good and not for evil. Greed and selfishness are leading our world down the path of destruction. When I look at what is happening in our world today, Greed is one of the main problems I see. Everyone is out to get as much as they can and to hell with the rest of the world. (Pardon my French.)


I do not like to get political, but we need term limits on Congress. Our politicians and those who control them are out for only themselves. Our leaders must be forced to live with the laws they make. As long as they put themselves above the law things will continue to go downhill for our nation.


We are called to put off greed and lust and sexual immorality. We are to be a people who are not living for our own desires. We are to be people who are living for the glory of God. We are called to love the unlovable. We are called to reach out in love and forgiveness to those who do not know that God loves them and He is the Lord of their lives.


One day we will all stand before God and we will give an answer to the Him about how we lived. He will help us to see how short we fell from following Him. He wants to begin now. Are we cooperating with God as He leads us to the truth about ourselves?

It is as we walk in fellowship with God that we become what God wants us to be.


When Eve listened to the serpent and decided to eat from the tree that was forbidden to her, what was the root of that failure? Was it not that she decided to believe that God did not really love her? Was it not that she decided not to trust God and follow Him as Lord of her life?


We decide each day to live as God is leading us to live. Or we decide to live for ourselves, protecting ourselves instead of trusting Our Father to protect us.


Are we cooperating with God as He helps us to become people who love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength? Are we cooperating with Him as He leads us to love other people as He has loved us? Are we forgiving others as we have been forgiven?


Are we cooperating with God?


This passage and others like it will help us to determine if we are walking in the Spirit or walking in the flesh; if we are listening to God or someone else.


Are you listening to God today?