Wednesday, November 14, 2012

God's Promise of a Superior Pleasure

Girls running and dancing during worship at Redeemer

This coming Sunday (Nov. 18) at Redeemer I'll preach out of Colossians 3:1-4, which reads:

3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
This is Paul's immediate response to what he has just said about the futility of regulations and prohibitions to remove the power of the "flesh." Not only does adding more laws and rules not work to accomplish this, they actually strengthen the flesh's power as one strives to follow moral commands.
In September Shena Hardin drove her car on the sidewalk in Cleveland to get around a school bus that had stopped and was unloading students. She was arrested. This was the second time she had done this. People were rightly outraged.  Her punishment was to stand on a streetcorner this week while holding a sign that read “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.” As she held the sign many people drove by, rolled down their wondows, and mocked and ridiculed her. Will this punishment change her heart, which would then change her behavior? I doubt it. Laws and punishment, by themselves, are not capable of changing the human heart. Paul knew this, and told the Colossian Jesus-followers to not listen to the religious legalists in their community.
OK. But is there anything that can help us here? Paul's counsel is to "seek the things that are above." Sam Storms writes, in explanation:
“The only way to defeat the power of sin’s promise of pleasure is by faith in God’s promise of a superior pleasure... Holiness….  the ability to say ‘no’ to the indulgences of the flesh and to be ‘set apart’ from giving in to the fleeting pleasures of sin, does not come from asceticism or self-restraining will power but from a mind and heart captivated and controlled by the beauty and majesty of the risen Lord and all that we are with him in the heavenlies." (The Hope of Glory)