Think Christ (an Ikthus East Sermon)

THINK CHRIST

(Colossians 3:1-4)

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) The thoughts that dominate our minds determine our character, and eventually our destiny. What we think, we become. GIGO. If we harbor impure thoughts, our character, speech and deeds also become impure. However, if we are pure in heart, we will see him and become holy like him, because what we behold, that we become. That is why we are told to “guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of the heart are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) The outcome of our life – our destiny – depends on the kind of thoughts that we allow to reign in our hearts and minds. As Paul says in Romans 8:5-6, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

It is of the utmost importance then that we think the right thoughts and reject those thoughts that lead to death, i.e., wicked and sinful thoughts.

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5) The result was the destruction of the world through flooding.

“How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” (Jer. 4:14 KJV).

“Let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts and the Lord will have mercy on him.” (Isaiah 55:7)

What then shall we think about? “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

But Christ is the perfect embodiment of all this. In everything he is preeminent (supreme); the fullness of God dwells in him (Colossians 1:15-19). All treasures of knowledge and wisdom may be found in him (Colossians 2:3). The things that are above are those mentioned in Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9, knowledge, wisdom, spiritual understanding. But Christ is all this! To seek and think about things above is first and foremost to think about Christ. Thoughts of Christ must reign supreme in our minds and hearts. He must be first and foremost in our thoughts and affections. Besides, to think frequently and always of Christ is evidence of our love for him. A man in love cannot help thinking of his beloved all the time. And the more we think of him, the more we grow in our love for him. The opposite, however, is also true. Out of sight, out of mind. Therefore, to make sure that our love for him won’t grow cold, we must keep him always in our sight by thinking of him always. As Paul say, “That I may know him…” (Philippians 3:10). That’s his one obsession.

So what shall we think about Christ? Paul talks about the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). He talks about the height and depth of the love of Christ, and his prayer is that we will be able to grasp this love (Ephesians 3:14-19). Eternity itself won’t be enough for this task!

Here are 4 things we ought to think about Christ:

1. Christ’s Crucifixion. Think frequently about the fact that he died for your sins, that he bore the penalty of your sins upon himself on the cross (1 Peter 3:18). How does this change us?

(a) It helps us deal with the problem and guilt and shame we feel over our sins. Our past sins tend to paralyze us, to keep us from going forward with the Lord. We have too many regrets that weigh us down. But the Lord paid for them all. And if we’ve already confessed them, repented of them and forsaken them, then it’s time to forget the things that are behind and to strain towards those things which are ahead (Philippians 3:13). Live forward because there is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We now have peace with God (Romans 5:1) because our sins have been paid for with his blood (Ephesians 1:7).

(b) It gives us purpose in life. “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (II Corinthians 5:15). “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). See also Titus 2:14.

(c) It moves us to love and forgive others. Christ forgave us on the cross. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

(4) It helps us to overcome our fear and worry. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

(5) It helps us to fight sin (1 Peter 2:24; Romans 6:6).

2. Christ’s Character. We become what we behold. God’s purpose for us is that we become conformed to the image of his Son, that we should put on the character of Christ. And this happens when we frequently meditate on his life and deeds. (II Cor. 3:18) As we do that the Holy Spirit transforms our character and makes us more Christ-like.

(a) Think of Christ’s humility (Phil. 2:5-8).

(b) Think of Christ’s compassion (Mark 1:40-41).

(c) Think of Christ’s servant spirit (the washing of the disciple’s feet) (John 13:1-5, 12-15).

3. Christ’s Commands. We said a while ago that thinking much of Christ is proof of our love for him. But the Lord also said that obeying his commands is proof our love for him (John 14:21). We must think much then of Christ’s commands. Why? To make sure that we won’t forget them and to make sure that we obey them. Incidentally, this is one of the things that the Holy Spirit does to sanctify us: he reminds us of what Christ has commanded and taught. We are prone to forget and disregard what we’ve heard, and the result is we end up like the foolish man who built his house upon sand (Matthew 7:26-27). When a crisis comes into his life, he is devastated and demolished by it. If you want your life to be strong enough to withstand the many crises that we will have to face sooner or later, then think much of Christ’s commands and teachings.

4. Finally, Christ’s Coming (Colossians 3:3). Again, if we love him we will think much of his coming again for us. The Bible speaks about those who love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13). How does this change us?

(a) It will motivate us to live holy lives. (2 Peter 3:10-12).

(b) It will motivate us to serve faithfully. (2 Timothy 4:8; Luke 12:42-44; Revelation 22:12).

(c) It will motivate us to suffer well. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

I must point out that this duty of always thinking of Christ is addressed primarily to those who have been raised with Christ, the person who is born-again, who is saved, who is washed in the blood of the Lamb, who is a new creature in Christ, who has the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit in him. The person without the Spirit, who is dead in his transgressions and sins, has a mind which is at enmity with God. He cannot understand spiritual things because to him those things are foolishness. If he wants his life to be changed he must forsake his unrighteous thoughts and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation. The Bible calls this repentance, which means “to change one’s mind.” Repent and believe the gospel. You need to be raised from the state of spiritual death. This happens when you put your faith in Jesus Christ and receive from him the free gift of salvation (see Ephesians 2). Then you can proceed to think much of him, for once raised from the death of your sins, your heart will be full of love towards him who loved you first.

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