October 20, 2011
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,)
(Colossians 1:21-22 ESV)
For my Homiletics (preaching) class last year I wrote a sermon on Colossians 1:15-23. When I got to verses 21-22 where Paul begins talking about who were before Christ. I made it a point to point out the importance of know ing who we are. I pointed out that Paul was pointing out our sin nature, he was saying, this is who you were before you met the Jesus he was talking about in 15-20 and in 22 He talks more specifically about what Christ had done for us.
So why did I emphasize knowing who we were before Christ? It seems like a bit of a depressing sermon point doesn’t it? After all isn’t the past in the past and therefore shouldn’t we just forget about it and move on? Why should we remember the things we may be ashamed of? What credence does our “Before Christ” action have on our spiritual walk?
Well if you’re like me (human) than your sin nature and your “Before Christ” actions followed you right into your post Salvation life. Let me give you an example, last semester I became very anti-social and even mean, I guess I shouldn’t say became, I had pushed those tendencies down so as not to deal with them, so when they finally surfaced, they surfaced in a nearly destructive way. These attributes along with the depression and self pity that come along with them were part of my life before I was a Christian. I wanted so bad to get attention that I turned into the very thing people didn’t want to be around (because I wasn’t getting attention).
Part of Illumination (see Illumination July 17, 2011) for me was seeing those characteristics and recognizing them and realizing that they only caused negative affects. Illumination also helps us to take something positive out of the experience even if that is just that you never want to have that experience again. Sometimes really picking apart those experiences can teach us deep life lessons. Negative experiences can have plenty of positive lessons. Before I was a Christian I did a lot of things I am ashamed of, because I remember thsoe negative experiences I have taken a positive lesson in a lot of different areas of my life. I know if I repeat that same behavior of those days then I will reap the same consequences, but if I take a positive lesson from those experiences I will not repeat those mistakes and reap positive consequences.
Here’s another example, lately I’ve been feeling the Lord leading me in a certain direction. In the past, when God has called me to do something I’ve often jumped so far ahead of Him that I left Him in the dust. This time I began doing that and Monday because of the frustration I was feeling at myself for not taking rushed personal action I became irritable and even snapped at a dear friend of mine. I needed to take the time to sit back and pray and just spend time with God, so after a conversation with a brother here in my dorm God had renewed my concentration on Him and granted me a new patience to wait on Him.
This was because I recognized my behavior, I knew who I was before, when I would run away from God or ahead of Him and I know who He wants me to be. I know what the Illumination did for me and revealed for me, and God knows I’m better than that.
So who were we before Christ? Where did we come from? Who are we now and what are some of the lessons we’ve learned since the day of our salvation?
The work of the spirit is ongoing, anyone who thinks or preaches that we are instantly transformed is going to end up with a lot of mixed up Christians, who as soon as a piece of their old nature surfaces are going to turn away or feel misled and ashamed. Yes there is an instant change as Christ comes in but most of us are going to have to put off our old self and put on the fruits of the spirit. We have to go through the refiners fire and that is a process that will require us to work through the things from the old self. We have to allow God’s work to happen in our lives through the washing of regeneration (dealing with the old stuff) and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. These things require us to drudge through things that we thought just disappeared.
Jesus calls us to be Holy as God is holy and to become Holy we have to go through this process of Sanctification. This is an ongoing process that we will never see completed while we are on earth. But have faith my friends, that work is astounding and it can lead to seeing God do wonderful.
So why should we not forget where we came from? Because it shows us what God has been doing in our lives and allows us to look ahead at where He is leading us!