Sunday, September 27, 2009

Colossians 2:13-15 - Alive with Christ

Opening thought:
As a farmer in Thailand, Muangmol Asanok often made less than $500 a year. So he couldn't believe his good fortune when a recruiter came to his village offering three years of farm work in North Carolina at a rate of more than $8 an hour. He mortgaged his farm to get the recruiter's $11,000 fee, said goodbye to his wife and infant son and headed to Johnston County -- where he says he became a prisoner in a storage building beside a rural highway.
Asanok is one of 22 Thai men suing the former owners of a Wayne County labor contracting company, saying the owners stole their money, failed to pay them for their work and held them captive with threats of violence.
        From August to November 2005, a recruiter from Million Express Manpower, a former labor contracting company out of Mount Olive, NC, lured 30 Thai men to work in Johnston County, North Carolina with a promise of earning $16,000 a year for 3 years. The recruiter charged a fee of $11,000 for each man to "secure" their job abroad.
Once they arrived, the labor contractor confiscated their passports and visas. "After about a week living in a motel in Benson, they were moved to a small storage building in Dunn, behind the home of Seo Homsombath, a native of Laos who is president of Million Express." "Homsombath at first contained the men by telling them that, without passports, police would arrest them if they left the property. Later, he showed them a gun, according to both Asanok and the lawsuit. A relative or employee was always at the house to guard them, Asanok said."(Asanok is one of the Thai workers who sued Million Express) 
"Homsombath delivered food, but it often wasn't enough for all 30 men, Asanok said. They had no kitchen, so they cooked outside on a portable gas burner. By mid-October the farm work ran out, and Homsombath took the workers to New Orleans, the lawsuit says. They spent a few weeks in a condemned hotel, badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, without electricity or clean water. During the day, the lawsuit says, they demolished parts of the hotel they lived in. Asanok said he spent his days tearing down walls and hauling piles of destroyed carpet out of the hotel." "The Thai workers, including Asanok, say they were never paid for their work in New Orleans. Some were so broke, the suit says, that they trapped and ate pigeons."[1]
That, my friends is bondage. It is involuntary servitude. It is slavery.  Asanok had become a human trafficking statistic.
Liberation from slavery and bondage and victory over the enemy is what Paul writes about in today’s lesson.

Pray & Read:  Colossians 2:13-15
Contextual Notes:  We have been looking at Paul’s letter to the Colossians this fall. In today’s verses from Colossians 2, Paul continues with his teaching from verses 11-12 that we have been cleansed and raised with Christ.

Key Truth: Paul wrote Colossians 2:13-15 to teach the Colossian Christians that they have moved from being dead in sins to alive in Christ. 
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about being alive in Christ.

Sermon Points:
  1. From dead in sins to alive in Christ (Col 2:13)
  2. From burden of debts to freedom in Christ (Col 1:14)
  3. From bondage to devils to triumph in Christ (Col 1:15)

1.   FROM DEAD IN SINS TO ALIVE IN CHRIST (COL 2:13).
a.   Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave two pictures there of becoming a Christian. The first was of circumcision, of stripping oneself of the sinful (fleshly) nature. The second was of death, burial, and resurrection. Now Paul uses a third metaphor, that of being dead in our sins and being made alive in Christ.[2]
b.   John 3:18: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believedin the name of God’s one and only son.”

c.           APPLICATION: Have you gone from death to life? Have you been made alive in Christ? You ask me what that means. (Give the plan of salvation and invite them to respond at the end of the message.)

2.   FROM BURDEN OF DEBTS TO FREEDOM IN CHRIST (COL 1:14).

a.           The fourth metaphor is legal. It involves a court case against you  and me in the court of heaven for your sin.
b.           A χειρόγραφον (only here in NT) is a handwritten document, note, or in particular a signed certificate of debt whereby the signature legalized the debt (cf. Philemon 18-19), a promissory note signed by the debtor. Not only was  the χειρόγραφον  an accusation of guilt; it also constituted a threat of penalty because of human inability to discharge the debt. Most commentators suggest this is the Mosaic law itself (cf. Ephesians 2:15),[3] but this is a great misunderstanding. Christ himself said not one jot or tittle would fall out of the Law, so how could Chist blot out or expunge the inerrant, forever Scripture? He won't. It is not consistent with his character. So Paul is not talking about the OT Law. The context strongly points instead toward the transgressions writtenS down against them, which was opposed to us. The word was used at the time of heavenly books believed to have recorded every good and evil deed one does.
c.           ἐξαλείψα: "wiped out" denotes the erasure of an entry in a book, wiped out, expunged, obliterated, blotted out. Our transgressions have been erased, not the Word of God.
d.           καὶ αὐτὸ ρκεν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου: “He lifted it up, took it away.” Here Paul changes from participle to finite verb in perfect tense, “He has taken it away,” pointing to a present freedom from indebtedness after the complete obliteration of the bond. προσηλώσας αὐτὸ τῷ σταυρῷ; He set it aside by means of nailing it to the cross. He cancelled its validity by means of Christ’s death.[4]
e.           Isaiah 43:25: “I am the one who wipes out your iniquities and I will not remember them.”

f.            APPLICATION: What a clear picture of what Christ does for us. He has canceled our sin debt and covered every penalty with his blood, nailing it, as it were, to the cross. Have you had your spiritual debt paid? Or are there charges against you in heavenly court? One day you will be called to account for those charges. What will you say when you appear before the Judge? Will you be able to say that Jesus Christ paid your sin debt? Will he be your Advocate on your behalf? There is only one way that will happen. That is if you submit your life to Him.

3.   FROM BONDAGE TO DEVILS TO TRIUMPH IN CHRIST (COL 1:15)

a.            The fifth and final metaphor describing the significance of the cross is one of triumph. The last “in him” is the fifteenth so far in the letter and the fifth since 2:9. The focus is on Christ.
b.           ἀπεκδυσάμενος : He stripped them of their armor and power (disarmed them).
c.           ἐδειγμάτισεν ἐν παρρησίᾳ: The image here (as at 2 Corinthians 2:14 at the other place it is used in the NT) has the image of a tumultuous procession through the streets of Rome to celebrate a military victory, i.e., to lead as a conquered enemy in a victory parade.”[5]

d.           APPLICATION: Jesus Christ overthrew the enemy at the cross. We sing victory in Jesus, but we live like POWs, prisoners of spiritual warfare. We find ourselves bound in addictions, in rejection, in witchcraft, in what most people call mental illness. Are you trapped in that way? Psychologists can tell you what your problems are. Doctors can prescribe medication to knock out the symptoms. But only Jesus Christ has the ability to diagnose your issues and then remove the roots, not just the symptoms. Some of you would want to fall through the floor if anyone knew what you were going through. Christ is ready, willing, and able to minister to you with power and tenderness. Will you allow him to do that today? I stand ready to minister to you. Call the office and schedule an appointment with me to pray with you, counsel you, and show you what the Word says about your situation. You can meet me at the office or I’ll come to your home.

Invitation: Will you respond to Him today? Won’t you respond to him now?


[2] James D.G. Dunn, NIGTC: Colossians and Philemon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 162.
[3] Murray Harris, An Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Colossians and Philemon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 107-8.
[4] Harris, 109.
[5] Peter O’Brien, Word Biblical Commentary: Colossians and Philemon (Waco, TX: Word, 1982), 128.