Let Life Reign in You!
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The context of this passage is Paul talking about what does restrain our sinful indulgences after talking about what does not.
Restraining sensual indulgences. What are they? What are they in you? What attitudes and actions in your life do not reflect faith in God’s goodness, love, power or wisdom? This is what must be dealt with in order for us to truly live.
Sin takes away our freedom, corrupts our thinking, desire and goals, and it isolates us from God and His life. This is death!
Coveting, Anger, Greed, Deflecting personal responsibility (pride). Fear, retaliation, rejection, blame etc. Lots of negative actions to choose from in life. Why are those attitudes in our lives? That’s a long road with lots of personal discoveries. Therapy sessions. But, we can deal with sinful attitudes regardless of whether or not we get them all pulled out by the roots.
If you don’t feed a weed, it won’t grow.
So, this passage is all about how to manage ourselves in such a way that we are filled with life.
- God Creates Life
God creates all of life. God creates the order of the environment that keeps things living. God is all about life.
- Is this true for you?
Does God have a specific prescription for your life?
Can you believe this for someone else? Then you can believe it for yourself!
You need to be convinced of this personally. God will create life in you.
I am convinced that the only reason we do not deny our flesh is because we don’t believe that God will give us life in exchange for the death that we die when we give up a habit that we like.
Gambling, pornography, gossip, backbiting, criticizing, disrespect, negative speech etc.
- God’s life for you is an exchange
But, you have to give up the things you are feeding on for life presently because they will kill you. And that’s not easy.
Death to self is a daily process. Romans 12:1 In view of God’s great mercies in our lives, proven in the gift of salvation in Christ, God completely forgives our sinful selves. And God gives the Holy Spirit to energize our present life. And God makes us equal heirs with Christ and promises to hear and respond to our prayers and will make us more than conquerors, even in our trials. God will cause all things to work together for our good. This is what is in view when Paul speaks of the mercies of God. So, because of these mercies, present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice. A living sacrifice placed on the altar is a sacrifice that will crawl off. So keep doing it. Take up your cross daily. Say to God daily, not my will, but your will be done.
Trust God with your difficult marriage. Be faithful to God first. Get life from Him.
Trust God with difficult relationships. You can forgive without being codependent, with enabling and without hatred. That comes from forgiving because of God first.
God’s offer of life is not hunkered down survival!
- An offer of abundance
John 10: 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Why did Jesus come to our lives? So we might have life. And He qualifies that life. Is it barely surviving our weaknesses? It is abundant life.
- God Wants You to Have Life
What qualities define abundant life? Keep in mind that if these qualities come from God then they are not circumstantially dependent.
- Peace, joy and love
Love v. 14 Put it on! Ephesians 3 prayer: discover God’s love for you in that while you are resisting Him, He is patiently directing you toward life.
Start by loving God. This is not a feeling, but may contain feelings. It is a prioritization of Him. His name, His goals for all of creation etc.
Peace v. 15 Peace with God. Peace with others found in our common identity. Our identity is not found in our sexuality, natural or preference (and these differences are real are they not?) Our identity is not found in our culture, and these differences are real. Our identity is not found in our families, in our social status, in our education or work history. Our identity is found in being “in Christ”. People from every tribe, tongue and nation! They are united in Christ.
Joy v.16 …teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Why include the teaching and admonishing each other with wisdom? Because our lives are intertwined with each other because we are all in Christ. Sorrow is halved when it is shared. Joy is doubled when it is shared. We teach each other. We sing together of the greatness of God. It makes a difference in our lives.
- A life of shared purpose
- 17 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Speak and Act as a representative of Jesus Christ. You can speak for Him. You an act for Him. Think about that. Is that how you think of your life?
- A personal, relationship with Jesus
Shared ministry creates understanding:
Working on the same projects!
Shared suffering creates bonding:
Phil 3: 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Shared communication creates comfort and cooperation
I Peter 5:6-7. From the Apostle Peter. The big man on campus:
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
III. Receive the Life of God by Faith
- Let peace rule your life
Peace is not fear. Why are you afraid? Anxiety much? Fear not!
Fear is not a long term motivator. Fear does not allow for clear thinking, it steals our focus and our energy.
Fear is not your life force!
You may have battles to be fought here, but we can fight for peace!
Psalms 42: 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
- You are called to peace. Let the peace of Christ rule in your life. Where does this peace come from? It comes from putting off, being renewed in our thinking and putting on new life. It comes from not trying to create your own reality. That takes way too much energy, has very little beyond a temporary short term reward and ultimately leaves you hollow!
- Embrace the Word of Christ
You are given the word of Christ: (Not my will, but your will be done.)
Jesus was successful in His garden when Adam was not successful in His. We have His word. His logos. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That is the word of Christ. “Give us this day our daily bread.” That is the life of Christ today in you!!
- Be thankful. Be thankful. Be thankful!
V.15, v.16, v.17.
Look at Adam and Eve in the garden.
Thankful or covetous? In our own lives, we can be thankful or desire something else. Will we trust God to give us life? I believe that the root of almost all of the sin in my life begins with ingratitude.
If Adam and Eve can be convinced in the Garden that they need to seek life other than in God, is it any wonder that we have to fight? But, we have a great tool in thankfulness! Agitated at your spouse? Be thankful to God for them. Stop looking at their imperfections and thank God that they are with imperfect you!
Agitated at your job? Be thankful for God’s provision through it! Be thankful for useful labor. Be thankful that in spite of thorns and thistles, it is an outlet for the image of God in you. It is a tool for personal growth!
See the warts in your family? Convinced your parents are fallible and weak? Be thankful for their imperfect love, their sacrifices made of time, energy and money.
Be thankful for all of the good gifts of God in this fallen world. Satan challenges God’s view of all of reality. There will always be a reason to feed on the flesh, to feed on sensual pleasure, pride and greedy possessions. Always. And they will always be a source of death. And being thankful will strip those temptations of their power in your life!