July 17, 2008

Off With the Old, On With the New

Around 13 years ago I did a lesson for the junior high group at First Baptist in Auburn. I taught on Colossians 3 where Paul talk about putting to death the earthly things and putting off the old self. He continues by telling the Colossians to put on the new self, as God's chosen ones. I don't want to pretend that I did a good job; I never did do a good job at teaching a message, but I do remember the title, "Off With the Old, On With the New." Years later I asked the then high schoolers if they remembered what I taught on and one girl seemed to always remember that title, and then she could tell me what it meant.

In Ephesians 4:20-24 Paul talks about putting off your old self "which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires" and putting on the new self "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." It's so impacting for me to hear the old self described as corrupt through "deceitful desires" because there are too many times I think I want something and once I pursue a specific desire, I realize there is no true joy in it. Instead, I feel as though I've failed God again. I need to be pursuing the righteousness and holiness of God. Colossians has a great list of things to help put the old and new into perspective. "Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2.

The Colossians 3 list of things to put to death:
sexual immorality
impurity
passion
evil desire
covetousness which is idolatry
anger
wrath
malice
slander
obscene talk

The Colossians 3 list of things to put on as God's chosen ones:
compassion
kindness
humility
meekness
patience
forgiveness
love
peace of Christ
thankfulness
knowledge of God's Word through teaching and admonishing
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs

It is good to see the things God desires from His chosen people. Even just reading the list brings me great joy. Sure it would seem like it's a list of things that I'm a failure at, but because I know that it is God's desire for me to work on these things, He provides joy in them. He knows what will bring us the most joy and fulfillment in our lives because He created us in His likeness. We are most pleased when we are living the way He designed and desires.

In the words of John Piper, "The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever." As our main purpose for existence is to glorify God, we can do that and enjoy our existence by enjoying God forever. We should love to please Him and desire to do so. By doing this, we will have more joy in our lives.

Praise God for His Joy.