Called Upward

Late one evening I knocked on the door of my dear friend and mentor. In grief I shared with him my ongoing struggle with sexual sin. “I failed again” I said in tears. Fear of God’s wrath and rejection burst in my mind like mortar rounds. He stared at me through the doorway in silence for a moment, and finally said “I wish you knew the victory you have in Jesus”. That was it. He shut the door. But he wrecked something in me.
All my self-pity and excuses were undone. I realized I didn’t know what it meant to have victory in Christ. My life could be summed up as stumbling from one failure to another, promising change to my wife and to the Lord, only to find myself right back in the same pit, throwing the same filth over my head. I walked back to my house that evening, looked at my wife sleeping and said “She deserves better”. I read late into the night eager to know the answer to what it meant to have Christ’s victory. I began in Romans 6, which I commend to you, but I quickly landed on Colossians 3, and that is the focus of our study.
Colossians was written to a group of Christians seeking to live for God in their daily lives. They didn’t like their sin any longer but they struggled and didn’t know what to do about it. In their struggle to live for God they looked for answers. Along came false teachers promoting human traditions, religious obligations, and lists of “do’s and don’ts”. The result was confusion, more sin, and a drifting away from the truth of the Gospel.  
Paul remedies this by pointing them to the triumph and superiority of Jesus over all things. He is the victor. Paul returns again and again to the powerful effect of Jesus’ death and resurrection saying: “You were buried with him… You were raised with him… You are forgiven… You have new life… You have put on the new self…”. It is from this great list of truths that Paul declares the folly of human traditions, to do lists, and religious practices. “They may look wise” he says, “but they have no power to stop the flesh” (Col 2.23 - paraphrase). Only Jesus can do that! The false teachers and religious “to-do lists” call us backward, but Jesus calls us upward!
He calls us to look to him for our daily strength and our future hope. He calls us out of our sin to walk in the new life he has won for us. He calls us to a new identity that is defined by himself and not by earthly categories. He calls us upward to a new code of conduct that guides every word and action. He calls us to belong to his Word-filled family where we grow in wisdom and maturity.

He calls us upward!

(Excerpt from Upward: Finding Victory From Sin Through Our New Life In Christ, Joe Basso, 2021). 

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