Imperatives of Crucified Living-3

 

 

Putting to Death the Old Life

Colossians 3

 

 

As Paul sat to write to the Colossians, he was writing to a group of saints swimming each day against in the strongest imaginable currents of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

 

Colosse in Roman Asia was at the cross flow of every type of sin. What was Paul’s answer to their needs for growing in that environment? He challenged them to make daily choices to sanctifiy their attitudes and behavior.

 

As we read this passionate letter to the Colossian saints, we hear Paul plead with them to allow Christ's work to be unleashed into their lives. It would be wise to ask ourselves the same questions.

 

Do you have a habit of crucified living? Do you know what it means? Have you started a hit list? Do you have targets that you want to give to Christ to put to death so they stop their growth in your life? Colossians lists target areas we must bring to the Great Physician like pockets of pride, lust, selfishness, anger, untruthfulness, and uncleanness.

 

  • What are we consciously putting to death of our old life today?
  • Can we name the area we are holding out to Christ our “oncologist”; an area affected by sin that we want Him to remove it’s deadly work from our life.
  • Have we examined our lives against this Scripture and agreed with God about surrendering specific areas of our life to Him?
  • What comes to your mind as I say those words? If nothing springs to your mind—you are probably not living a crucified life. Paul said that every day I live, I live by faith that Christ is crucifying my old life.

 

This morning we are examining the heart of Biblical sanctification. Sanctification requires our participation, our obedience, our responses—and that is what Paul lays down before us in Colossians 3.

 

Just before we read what Paul wrote, may I again remind you of the two sides of the coin of salvation. We could call the two sides faith and works as James does. Another way would be to use Paul’s words from Romans—justification and sanctification. To best understand what Paul is asking us to do in Colossians let me contrast and explain justification and sanctification.

 

  • Justification is what Christ did for me on the cross--sanctification is what Christ is doing in me because of the cross.
  • Justification is immediate and was completely finished in me the instant I was saved—sanctification is an ongoing process never completed on earth until I meet Jesus face to face at death or His coming.
  • Justification is activated the moment I trust in the Person of Christ Jesus and His finished sacrifice of the cross—sanctification grows with each obedient choice I make empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • Justification is my position declared right in God’s sight—sanctification is my practice made right by becoming more conformed to s image.

 

Listen to Paul say that because you are saved (justified) this is how you should live (sanctified), as we stand and read Colossians 3:5-17 and then pray.

 

Be careful what you read as a teen! I was given several books as a teenager about the lives of Hudson Taylor, C.T. Studd, and George Mueller—and they have become life long heroes in my life.

 

I have often shared with you my amazement at the ministry of the pioneering, church planting evangelist by the name of CT Studd. This morning I’d like to share his story again only emphasize something you may not have heard before—what happened after CT Studd’s death in 1931.

 

Did the incredible life changes go on in those jungles? What was the long term effect of those simple Bible Truths he taught, believed and discipled those thousands of savages to believe? To find out, I read the volume this week that chronicles the next 20 years of ministry carried on with those very people C.T. won to Christ. The lesson—they stayed true, kept growing and sent out hundreds of missionaries, evangelists, pastors and teachers in those two decades from 1931-1951.

 

CT Studd was born in 1858 to an incredible successful English family with vast real estate and business interests all over the British Colonial Empire. Saved while in college, C.T. was discipled in the truth of crucified (sanctified) living. This truth impacted him deeply to the point of profound choices.

 

When his father died in the 1880’s, he inherited a substantial amount of money—several hundred thousand dollars in his day, tens of millions in ours.

 

On January 13th, 1887, he wrote nine checks and gave away his fortune as carefully as a business man invests in some ‘gilt-edged’ securities. He chose safe and high yielding securities in the Bank of Heaven. This was no fool’s plunge on his part. It was his public testimony before God and man that he believed God’s Word to be the surest thing on earth. God promises a hundredfold interest in this life, not to speak of the next.

 

Think about what came out of the gift of his life to Christ: through the fortune C.T. Studd gave to Christ, Hudson Taylor was helped in the founding of the China Inland Mission, George Mueller’s orphanages were expanded in London, great Salvation Army extensions were made, and the founding of the Moody Bible Institute was carried along.

 

When he had given all his money away, he packed up his new bride, they went to China as missionaries for the rest of their days. His ambition[1] and prayer had always been to die a soldier's death on the field of battle, and not be a drag on his fellow-workers through months or years as an invalid. C.T. was a museum of diseases when he left China, and was afterwards hardly ever free. He had a life long battle with asthma, recurring malaria and dysentery as well as the chills and pains of gallstones ever with him in varying combination. Yet God enabled him to go on working not 8 but 18 hours a day, addressing, often for hours, thousands of his fellow-creatures in the heart of Africa’s darkest jungles, telling them of Jesus Christ and the wonders of His Love-and this to the very end of his days.

 

C.T.’s end came in the hot, steamy summer days of July 1931. There in front of him sit 5,000 former headhunters. Now their oiled bodies, formerly the habitation of dark, foul fiends from the pit are temples of the Living God. Once naked and grossly immoral lovers of darkness, now not only clothed in Christ but also modestly clothed in banana leaves. Before their beloved father in the faith they sit in an immense sea of white-toothed smiles. With faces turned heavenward they sing of the sweet by and by and that beautiful shore they will someday see.

 

Passed now are the years of darkness and savagery. The former enemies sit shoulder to shoulder. No weapons of war are left, only the bond of love. This would be the last sight of his dear saintly converts Studd would see. After his message uttered between gasps for air, with every ear strained to catch each word, he is carried back to his hut. Exhausted, he rests; though only his Savior knew it was his last.

 

In the night the Faithful Shepherd who had led him to China, then India and finally to the very heart of Africa - took CT home. In the morning only the shriveled earthly tent was left. But around that hut and to the furthest reaches of the jungles and on mission stations around the world, the footprints of this giant can be found today.

 

In Africa at his death there were 30,000 born again, baptized and discipled pygmies whom C.T. found in 1910 as naked, murderous, grossly immoral cannibals butchering each other in the darkest jungles of Africa. Today they sing around the Throne of the Lamb, clothed in white raiment and worshiping Jesus--those C.T. won to Christ, discipled and served.

 

C.T. Studd lived a crucified life, surrendering every thing to Christ. And in return he lost nothing. This morning join me in Colossians 3, as we see the action we must take to live the life of killing our flesh, mortifying our flesh—and living the crucified with Christ life!

 

As we were saved only by the accomplishment of Christ's sacrifice on the cross—so we live each day ‘by faith’ (the same faith by which we were saved). We are always dependent upon Christ's gracious death upon the cross that saves and keeps us!

 

“Sanctification is a process-the process of becoming more like Christ, of growing in holiness. This process begins the instant you are converted and will not end until you meet Jesus face-to-face. Through the work of His Spirit, through the power of His word and fellowship with other believers, God peels away our desires for sin, renews our minds, and changes our lives. Sanctification is about our own choices and behavior . It involves work. Empowered by God's Spirit, we strive. We fight sin. We study Scripture and pray, even when we don't feel like it. We flee temptation. We press on; we run hard in the pursuit of holiness.[2]

 

Read part 2 of this message tomorrow June 11.

 



[1] Norman Grubb, CT Studd, p. 216-217.

[2] C. J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life, Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2002, p. 31-34.

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