Behavior of a Believer | Kylen Perry

Kylen Perry // May 14, 2024

Who - or what - is lord of your life? If you claim Jesus Christ, then there has to be a total life transformation that follows. This week, Kylen Perry walks us through Colossians 2 to give us a few lessons for the living we see Paul outline for the church of Colossae.

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Porch, how are we doing? Hey, it's great to be back with you tonight. I'm so grateful you joined us from wherever it is you came from. I don't know if you're here from out of town or if you're a regular in the room. We always have some Porch.Live locations tuning in with us on Tuesday nights as well, so special shout-out to all of you who are tuning in with us online, especially Fresno, Scottsdale, and Tulsa. We love you. Thanks for being here with us.

We've been in the middle of a series in the book of Colossians, which we're continuing tonight. I want to open up with an illustration that I think may be helpful. I remember starting my first job out of college and finding the experience confusing, to say the least. Has anybody had that same experience? You jump out of college, you get into your first job, and you're like, "What is happening right now? This is not at all what I expected."

Let me explain to you why that was the case for me. You see, normally, when you step out of college, walk the stage, and make your way into your first job, you are in the midst of a lot of new. You've moved into a new city. You've found a new place to live. You've committed to a new set of responsibilities during your week. You're trying to find new friends. You're trying to understand the new landscape you are now calling home.

This is the case for many of us when we step into a new job, especially out of college, but this was not the case for me, because I graduated and stayed right where I was. I didn't move cities. I didn't change locales. I didn't even leave the place where I was living. I stayed in College Station, Texas, because I went to Texas A&M University, aka, the promised land. It's a holy place. Hang in there with me.

I stayed in the same city in which I had spent the last four years at that time, which meant I lived a lot of the same normal regularities for me that I had lived previously. I had the same roommates. I lived in the same house. I went to the same restaurants. I went to the same gym. I went to the same church. I was a part of all of these "sames" that had been a part of my story. They were continuing forward for me.

That sounds really great. Right? "Man, that sounds nice. You can acclimate to a new job. You can be a part of a new set of normal rhythms while also having all of the same friends and all of the same places and all of the same things." You would think that was true, but it was not the case for me, because with a new job came a new way of life, and with that new way of life came a new set of expectations.

You see, where the old me would choose to skip class if he wanted to (totally hypothetical), the new me could not skip work. Where the old me could choose to take as many hours as he wanted for lunch, the new me got one hour for lunch every single day. Where the old me would look at his week and say, "Man, I don't have as much work to do as I thought," the new me would look at his week and realize, "I have plenty of work to do."

Where the old me could spend as much time as he wanted at the gym, the new me had to either get up in the morning or go at the end of the day. My old rhythms did not fit with my new way of life, which sounds pretty miserable. Right? You would think it would be great, but then you hear you're not able to enjoy any of the same things you used to because of the new way of life you're now a part of. That sounds awful. Yet, I would tell you, it was amazing. Why?

Because though it was disorienting…I was kind of in my old stomping grounds while still living a new way of life…that new way of life was worthy of figuring out. The reason for it was I loved everything it afforded me, the opportunities it gave me to grow, the lessons it would teach me, the responsibilities that were imparted to me, the money I made, the team I joined, the company I worked for, the fact that I didn't have to go to class; instead, I was entrusted with something that was meaningful. I loved all of this that was now a part of my new way of life.

Here's the thing you need to know. I tell you that because when you step into a new way of life, there are often new lessons to learn. That was true for me. I wasn't able to just do the things I had done. I now had to do new things instead, and that is the case with those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. When you step into life with Christ, you embark upon a new chapter of life, and everything changes for you. You get new opportunities to grow. You get new experiences to enjoy, community to find, responsibilities to steward. You get all of this newness, which is really amazing, yet with that new way of life come new lessons you have to learn.

I tell you that because that's where we are tonight. We've been journeying through the book of Colossians, and as we come to chapter 2, which is where we are this evening, Paul is hinging from everything he has been saying, pointing to, "Hey, this is what it looks like to walk into relationship with Jesus and then walk out of that relationship as you live your life forward," to now talking about what's next, which is important and relevant for the Colossians he's writing to.

This group of young believers is saying, "We've placed our faith in Jesus. We understand everything you're saying, Paul, but now what? We want to move forward. We want to mature in our spirituality. We want to advance. We want to take new ground. We want to get better." That may feel like you. You've been walking with Jesus. Maybe you've just recently started investigating the person of Christ, and you're trying to evaluate for yourself, "Okay. I'm kind of into this. I believe in him, even, but where do I go from here?"

This is the question the Colossians are asking as well. They want to know what it looks like to not just be as they are but to become everything God wants them to be. So, Paul moves into chapter 2, and he starts to write to them a series of lessons they need to learn. He's doing so to refute a lot of the lessons the world is perpetuating at them instead. You see, in their context, there is this thing known as the Colossian heresy.

Basically, it's a group of false teachers who are looking at them and saying, "Hey, if you want to find superior spirituality, if you want to advance into a greater human experience, add all this other stuff to your life. Believe in these different things. Acquire this new knowledge." As we transition from chapter 1 to chapter 2, looking at verse 3, Paul says, "You don't have to do that, because in Christ are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. You don't need to look anywhere else. If you want to grow and go forward, the way you do it is by looking to him."

We've said this. Maturity in life comes through clarity of Christ. That's the big topic, the main theme of this entire book. As we move forward into the rest of Paul's letter, he's going to begin to unpack for us what specific lessons we need to learn if we want to walk in the wholehearted fullness that is available in Jesus.

So, this is what he says, starting in verse 6: "Therefore [in light of the fact that you do believe in him], as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." How does Paul choose to teach these young believers the way of walking in Jesus? How is he going to teach us the way of walking in Jesus? In a really strategic way.

He looks at them and says, "Hey, you need to learn how to walk in him by comparing it to the way you received him," which is a really great strategy for teaching somebody something. "How do I do that?" "Do this the way you did that. The way you did X, now you go do Y." That's what he's saying. That begs the question, then…How did they receive Christ? With extreme care. They received Christ with extreme care.

Paul uses a term here that's interesting. It's actually a technical word in Judaism that refers to the transmission of teaching from one person or generation to another. Just think about that most beloved family recipe you have, that thing that has been handed down with painstaking care from one generation to the next. What is it for you? That is how they have received the good news of Jesus Christ: with painstaking detail, with meticulous care. They haven't just received it carelessly; they've received it carefully.

There's nothing casual about this. They heard the good news of Jesus, and they received it with intense focus. They wanted to learn. They had heard the stories of this man. They had read the report of what he'd done. They had even learned of his impact in the lives of other people, and they said, "We've received this, so now what do we do? We want to believe this, so we've acquired great knowledge of these things." You see, their lives were transformed because their hearts were transfixed on the one who had come to save them.

Porch, the same should be true for us, which is why it's really important, when we talk about faith in Jesus, believing in God, that we don't just pin our faith on the basis of something rather weak. That's why it's not enough to believe in Christ because your parents do or to follow Jesus because it's socially advantageous to do that here in the South. It's a good way to meet people and find friends.

We don't walk with God because our boyfriend or our girlfriend kind of likes him, so, "I guess I should like him as well, because I want that relationship to sustain." We don't follow him because we want a "get out of hell free" card. These are all bad reasons to walk with Jesus. Contrary to popular belief, there are, in fact, bad testimonies out there. What makes a bad testimony? Not the absence of divine intervention. "Man, there's not really a burning bush or a pillar of fire in my story." That doesn't make a bad testimony. There are loads of people like that.

What makes a bad testimony is not the absence of divine intervention but the presence of personal indifference. "I don't really care. He seems like a nice guy. I guess I should religiously ascribe to someone. It might as well be him." Paul is saying you don't receive Christ like that. That's not how they've received him. They've received him with great care. They are absolutely, utterly transformed because they are totally transfixed on this man Jesus Christ.

The same should be true for us. You see, we don't believe in Jesus because it's convenient; we believe in Jesus because we're convinced. We've heard the facts of his life. We've read the report ourselves. We've beheld the beauty of his character, we've observed the wonder of his nature, and we've received his forgiveness firsthand. Because we've done these things, we can't help but believe. We can't help but be spurned forward toward more, and we can't help but want to learn as much as possible.

Paul is saying in the same way we've received him like that, as undeniably true, like, "Man, I cannot refute the fact that this is all actually accurate…" The way we've received him as that is the way we should walk in him. You received him with great focus; you should walk in him with great focus. That's what he's saying.

As he moves through this, he moves from the indicative form to the imperative form, which just means he makes an indicative statement. He indicates something that's true. He makes a statement of fact. "You received Christ." That's observable. That's factual. We can say that actually happened. He moves from an indicative statement, "You've received him," to an imperative statement, which is a command: "So then, do this." That's where he moves as he goes along.

He says there's no hiatus between believing in Jesus and behaving like a Jesus follower. They go hand in hand. They're two sisters tied at the hip. You place your faith and you walk in him. It just goes together. That's what he's unpacking for us. Why is that the case? Because Jesus is not just a nice guy. He's not just a lesser household god. He's not just a mythological hero, someone we study in books.

The reason there's no gap, no hiatus, no distance between a believer and Christlike behavior is Jesus is Lord. That's why. That's what he points to. Paul's first lesson to us is if you have received Christ and want to walk in him, then the claim that Jesus is Lord should be met with the reality that we treat him as Lord. If you say, "Jesus is Lord," then you treat Jesus as Lord.

That begs the question for all of us…What does a lord do? Do we have any lords in America? I was thinking about this in the green room just a minute ago before I came out here. My staff… We have a variety of different office spaces. Some of us sit in offices. Others of us sit in cubicles. My personal assistant has a cubicle. It's right outside of my office. She is the lord of her cubicle. She rules over all that happens within that cubby. She reigns over it. That's what it means to lord over something.

So, if Jesus is Lord, what kind of Lord is he? What's the extent of his reign? How great is his reach? Well, Philippians 2 tells us. It says, "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…"

Who is Jesus Lord of? Every name, every knee, and every tongue. He's over it all, which makes the claim that if he is the Lord of my life, then I absolutely should treat him as the Lord of my life. I walk in him. That's important. Paul says, "You walk in him." Not ahead of him, that he's someone you outpace who needs to catch up to your lifestyle. Not behind him because you don't want to be associated with him. Not around him because he's a problem or an inconvenience to avoid.

No, you don't walk in front of him, behind him, or around him; you walk in him. He is, in complete totality, fully surrounding all of your being. Have you ever put on one of those giant bubble soccer uniforms? Jesus is like the bubble. He surrounds your entire being. He has lordship over every aspect of who you are, and he has a lordship that says, "I care enough and I'm capable enough to provide for you."

How do we know that? How do we know that Jesus cares and is capable? Because he cares enough to lay his life down, and he's capable enough to take his life up. He loves you, and he's powerful for your sake. So, as you walk in him, totally encompassed, you're safe. You're provided for. You're protected. This is the good news of the gospel. When you receive Christ, you don't just get part of him; you get all of him, but he also gets all of you.

That's what Paul is saying next. You walk in him, and then he gives you four descriptors of how you're supposed to walk in Jesus. What does he say? You walk in him, rooted and built up, established in the faith just as you were taught, and abounding in thanksgiving. He gives four descriptors for what it looks like to walk in Jesus: rooted in him, built up in him, established in him, and abounding in thanksgiving.

That can feel really overwhelming. You may be here tonight, and you're just trying to figure out the whole Jesus thing, and then you hear a list of punch items you need to accomplish or a checklist you need to work through. "Oh, I'm supposed to root myself in him, be built up in him, establish my life in him, and be thankful? That sounds exhausting. This is overwhelming. This is why I want nothing to do with religion."

If that's what you're hearing as Paul works through these descriptors of how we walk in Jesus, let me help you understand that's not what he's saying. He's not looking at you and saying, "You've placed your faith in him? You signed on the dotted line? Perfect. Okay. Let's get to work. We've got a bunch of different things we need to do. You first need to get rooted, then you have to get built, then you have to get established, and then you have to get thankful. Are you ready? Here we go."

That's not Paul's perspective on your life if you've made a claim of faith in Jesus. No. He looks at you and says, "This is actually going to be much easier than you think." I'm not going to bore you with the grammar, but if you go and study the way Paul writes this, these four descriptors actually leave you with only one thing you're truly personally responsible for.

He says you're rooted in Christ. When he says you are rooted in Christ, he is saying you are already completely rooted. It's complete. It's done. It's in the perfect tense, which means there's nothing you can add to it. You have been rooted in Christ. You've placed your faith. You're rooted. You're safe. You're secure.

Yet it doesn't just mean you're completely rooted; you're also continually being built up, and you're growing stronger. That's a continual process. It's one where, when you study it, you partner together with God. God is going to help you grow and girder. He's going to make you taller and stronger, but your participation is required.

Completely rooted, continually built up and established, and then lastly, you're consciously thankful. That's your job. That's what he leaves you to do. "Hey, man. We're going to work it out together. You're rooted. We're going to partner. You just be thankful that it's all happening." Is God egotistical? Does he just need you to be glad that he's involved in your life? Heap up some praise. Lift up some hands. Is that his perspective? Is that his heart's posture? No.

You see, if you're going to lift thanks to God, what does it require? That you see something worthy of rejoicing in. God's heart for us is that we would look at him and see a bounty of thanksgiving, and as we see that, it would lead us into great gladness, irrefutable joy, and indomitable praise, because God is good. He's saying, "Hey, I need you to be thankful." How does that happen? "Just look at me. Get more of me. Lean in. Acquire as much as you want. There's so much here. I'm so good." The longer you look, the more gratitude you'll feel.

This is what it means to walk in Jesus, these four things. This is the first lesson he gives. He's saying, "Hey, if Jesus is your Lord, then you treat him like your Lord." But that's not the only lesson he offers. He keeps going. He picks it up in verse 8. "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily…"

The second lesson Paul wants us to know is the world will offer you what only Jesus can give. When Paul says, "See to it that no one takes you captive" in verse 8, we're meant to read that with a strong warning that dangers are nearby. When you go to the beach, there are certain flags the lifeguards will raise in order to alert you to present dangers in the waters. A red flag means there's a rip current. The water is not safe. A purple flag means dangerous marine life is present, which means there's something out in the water that you may not want to tangle with.

What would happen if you walked out into those waters and did not pay attention to the warning sign? You might find yourself face-to-face, in your Chubbies, with an apex predator, which is a really bad spot to be in. Can we just admit it? I know you think you're bad, but that's not a good position to find yourself a part of. Paul is saying, "Hey, I'm raising a flag. Take notice. Look at this. There's danger around."

He's using predatory language. The Greek word here for captive is a compound word that literally means to carry prey off. It's to carry prey or victims. He's saying when you walk through this world, there are going to be a myriad of people, a variety of voices that are looking at you and saying, "Hey, follow this. Do this. Trust this teaching," yet though they may seem trustworthy, they do not have your best interests at heart.

They're going to spin something super captivating. Key word captive. They want to take you hostage. So he's alerting you. "Be aware." It's like what advertisers do in fast food commercials. You know what I'm talking about. Why do those pancakes stack so high when you look at them upon the billboard? Because marketers have wedged cardboard between every single one of them. And that syrup looks amazing. Yeah, it's because it's motor oil.

Or that picture of your favorite pie with that perfect dollop of whipped cream on top. Yeah, that's shaving cream. Or the cheese pizza that looks so ooey-gooey delicious. It's not ooey-gooey; it's ooey-gluey. It's glue. It's not cheese. They are falsely advertising to you. They look trustworthy, but they're not to be messed with. In the same way, the world will falsely advertise to you.

False teachings, heretical ideas, aren't immediately obvious or glaringly wrong. They won't simply stand out as bad. For the Colossians, these false ideas came through what Paul describes as human tradition and elemental spirits. Why does that matter to us? That just sounds like a lot of religious speak. What is he talking about?

When he says, "They're preaching to you Colossians with human tradition and elemental spirits," he's saying, "Hey, they're going to speak to you something that looks like it has a ton of veracity," because the more ancient the tradition or the more elemental, fundamental, the spirit, the more veracity that it was true in this ancient context. The older it was the better it was. That's the way to put it simply.

The irony of that is, for us, in our modern day, it's not the old things that demand our attention; it's the new things. We see something new, and we deem that it's best. We look at something that is improved, and we actually assume it's an improvement, but Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 10:16, "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves…" More predatory language. "…so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

Have discernment and blamelessness. You see, as we move through this world, we're meant to be discerning, knowing full well the world will overpromise and underdeliver every time. "Hey, if you want to find fulfillment, let's talk about your job. Just invest in your career, because there's a goal you want to reach. Yes? Let's just hustle harder, give up more time, compromise more of your morals, and you'll eventually ascend to that platform, into that position. You'll attain all of that responsibility, and it's going to be awesome."

Then you get there. You climb the proverbial ladder, and as you stand at that spot, you realize there's only one more rung to climb. You're still, in fact, as far behind another group of people as you felt from where you first were before. You're not nearly as happy here as you anticipated you would be. This is with your career. This could be in anything. This could be in relationships. This could be in reputation. "I want to be someone who's admirable, respected. I want to make a difference in the world." It could be something about pleasure or experience.

Listen. These things are not inherently bad. In fact, they're pretty important. Career, relationship, reputation… These things are good things. They're important things. Porch, they are not ultimate things. Thus, because they are not ultimate, they will never satisfy. They will not deliver on the promise they've made that fullness is right here. "Step right up and take as much as you want."

How do I know that's the case? Because there is one who is ultimate where fullness is actually found. That's what Paul says. He says in verse 9, "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority." All the fullness of God dwells in this man Jesus, so all the fullness you seek is found in him as well.

It's interesting. I talk to young adults all the time, and as I visit with them, often what I find myself engaging in conversation about is that their job isn't as life-giving as they thought it would be or their friend group is not as life-giving as they thought it would be or that commitment they made, that leadership position they have, that volunteer role they hold… "Man, it's just not giving me life." It's not supposed to.

No job, no relationship, no group of friends is supposed to give you life. For us to say that language in the church within the walls of this building shows that the world has permeated our midst. It has come inside. It's looking at you and saying, "There is something we could add to Jesus. Have you thought about X, Y, and Z?" Those things are not meant to give you life. He is. That's why all things are meant to be done to the glory of God, because it's in the glory of God that you find rich satisfaction.

This statement fullness of deity that Paul uses is loaded with meaning. In the Old Testament, anytime the word fullness pops up, it's most often talking about the presence of God, the fullness of God. Anytime deity pops up, it's talking about the essence of God. So, when he says, "Fullness of deity," he's saying the presence and the expression, the essence, of God are found in Jesus. All of God's person (his being) and all of his personality (his doing) is in him. That's where you can find it. That's why fullness is available.

What Paul is getting at is that Jesus is God unbelievable ("Oh, have you seen him? He's unbelievable!") become God perceivable. He is God's transcendence become God's immanence, power in the form of a person. That's what we talked about last week, and that's what Paul is hammering at right here. He's the fullness of God, so in him we find the fulfillment for ourselves. But it's not just that. In verse 11…

"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead."

Without getting into too much detail, circumcision was a physical sign in the Old Testament for the people of God that Paul is referencing right here to refute this claim that because the Colossians are not ethnic Jews, they can't be a part of the people of God. "You're not circumcised, so you can't be in here." He's saying, "That's not true. That's not actually the case."

He's saying, "No, it's not by human hands that you become a part of God's family; it's by way of God's own hands, what he does. It's not a circumcision physically; it's a circumcision spiritually. It's of the heart." He says it like this in Romans 2:29: "But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart…" He's saying if you want to be identified with the people of God, it's not by blood; it's by Spirit, and that happens inwardly.

"…by the Spirit, not by the letter [of the law]. His praise is not from man but from God." That is good news to us, because what Paul is saying is "Hey, do you want to be in the family of God? The door is open for anyone and everyone. There is no barrier to entry. You can come in here. You can grab a seat at the table. Anyone is welcome here, because God is the one who brings people into his family, and he does not discriminate. Everyone is welcome right here."

How, Paul? How is that the case? Because that unbelievable God who has become a perceivable God in Jesus has also become a receivable God. He's not just a God you can know; he's a God you can have, because that's Jesus' heart. He wants you in his family. That's why he came. He came to cross the divide, to bridge the void, and bring you back to God himself, and not just save you from your sin but save you into a whole new way of life and fullness forevermore.

The reason this matters for our room is because some of us here feel a lot like these Colossians. We do feel like there's a barrier to entry for us. We do feel like we don't belong in the family of God. We look at ourselves and say, "You don't know what I've done. Have you seen my résumé, the mistakes that are littered thereupon? I'm disqualified from this thing. I'm unqualified to get in. I'm inadequate to be a part of God's family. I have a stain so deep no one can clean it."

Yet God is looking at you and saying, "No. I can clean it." How? "By my own blood. I will clean you. I will wash you as white as snow. I will bring you to myself, and you will remain with me forever." This is such good news, because it's not a result of anything we do. It is in spite of everything we've done that we come into the family of God, and it's through the person of Jesus. That's what Paul unpacks for us as we continue into our final point. He says in verse 13:

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him."

Paul turns the corner and gives us our final lesson: those fully forgiven should live fully free. What's the best motivation for living free? The reminder of what you've been freed from. Anytime I speak to my nieces and nephews and learn about their schoolwork, I rejoice, because those days are behind me. I'm reminded of what I've been freed from. I have graduated from the imprisonment of my former education, and now I don't have to do those things any longer.

When you're reminded of what you've been freed from, you're motivated to live into your freedom. That's what Paul is pointing to. That's why he spends the next three verses unpacking, specifically, three problems we've been delivered from. He wants to add fuel to your freedom. He wants to pour gas onto your gratitude. So, what are the three things we've been delivered from? Verse 13: regret from our past. Verse 14: debt for our sin. Verse 15: threat of the Enemy.

Regret from our past. These are the things that result from the trespasses Paul talks about in verse 13, which raises the question…What does it mean to trespass? In the Greek, it literally means to take a false step, to go somewhere you're not supposed to be. When I was in high school, every summer my youth group would take a mission trip, which meant every summer we would inevitably prank the girls.

The boys would go on this trip, and we would, like a thief in the night, try to prank the girls. We would try to go into their quarters and absolutely wreak havoc and leave them a memory worth telling about for days forward. How would we do it? We would trespass. That's how we would do it. We would sneak into their room under the cover of nightfall. We would do so after our chaperones had fallen asleep.

We would execute plans that we had carefully and meticulously prepared, plans that included things like cling-wrapping toilets; hanging cheese puffs above their door so that when they opened it, it would rain down upon them; filling their shower heads with Kool-Aid so it would leave them oh, so sticky…very devious exploits. This is what we would do. We would trespass in order to make it happen. We would go someplace we shouldn't have been to do something we shouldn't have done.

This is what Paul is talking about. He's saying, "You've not only trespassed against one another; you have trespassed against God." We've lived our lives selfishly, hating God and hurting one another. Romans says that even our conscience bears witness against us. Intrinsically, we know, "The world is not as it should be, nor am I." So he's saying, "You are filled with regret. You know you're not doing what you should, and you have good reason for doing it right."

Yet, because of what Jesus Christ has done upon his cross, he has answered for every single one of our trespasses. Everything we've done wrong, every place we never should have been… He has borne the full consequence of it in himself upon his cross. Thus, we have no reason to regret any longer. We have every reason to rejoice. That's what he's pointing toward.

We have been freed from our regret. We have absolutely been relinquished from those things that held us in shame, guilt, and condemnation. But it's not just that. We've not just been freed from our regret; we've also been freed from the debt of our sin. Verse 14 says, "[God made us alive] by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross."

What does that mean? Our sin against God had racked up a huge tab, one we could not pay, so Jesus stepped in our place and paid the balance in full. How did he pay it? With his own life. He has canceled the record of debt. There's nothing that can hold you bound captive to sin and death any longer, because he has paid it completely. Romans 8:33-37 says:

"Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? […] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

We've been freed from any debt for our sin, and we've also been freed from the threat of the Enemy. When he gets to verse 15, he says, "He [Jesus] disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." Paul uses an image when he says the word triumph that would have struck a chord with his audience.

This word triumph is a word picture. When a king would return after vanquishing an enemy, he would carry in his train all of those foes he had now brought captive, and as he paraded his enemy through the city streets, triumphing over them in full, that king's people could look upon that enemy, the one who once harmed them, and realize, "He has been rendered harmless, and I have reason to praise. I have reason to celebrate. I have reason to build in confidence, because I am associated with one who could defeat my threat for me."

We have no reason to fear. There are no longer any regrets for those in Christ Jesus. There is no longer a debt of sin against you, and there is no power or threat from an enemy. All of it has been ultimately, finally, and totally overwhelmed by Jesus Christ himself. Do you know him, this man who is the Lord, the Lord God? Jesus is over everything. He is supreme. He is dominating in all of his power, yet he is also tender in all of his care.

He's Lord over all, including you. Will you not treat him as such? Will you not submit to him? For he and he alone offers the fullness of life, which you are desperate to find. Jesus came to give life. The Lord God became a servant to man, and in giving life to us, he laid down his life to accomplish it completely. He poured himself out as an offering to God on our behalf.

The wages of sin is death. Christ has borne our death. That way we may no longer worry or fear that death is still ahead. We have nothing to sit in trepidation over, because Christ Jesus has come to give us life. But not just that. He has come to fully forgive that we might be fully free. Jesus did die, but he didn't stay there. He rose forth from the grave.

He burst forth from his tomb, and in so doing he has declared, "Hey, there's not just forgiveness for you; there is freedom. I've risen that you might rise, that you can come with me where I am, not just one day out in eternity, though that's true. You can live into all the freedom available by way of my resurrection right now." This is the gospel. Will you walk in it? Let me pray for us.

Father, I'm so thankful to teach your Word. I'm so grateful, God, that through it you've spoken to us. God, I thank you that I have friends here in this room tonight who are truly across a spectrum of spirituality. Some are in here, God, who have walked with you for so long who are, in fact, rooted and are being built up and established, and they do rejoice and give thanksgiving, but others are here, as well, who don't know you. They just stumbled into this space. They wandered in haphazardly. I'm thankful, Lord, that there's not a soul in this room here by happenstance.

All, including you, brother or sister, are here because he willed it to be. There is something from his Word, something in this room he wants for you tonight. Maybe it's his lordship and the provision and safety that comes with it. Maybe it's the life he offers and the fact that with him fullness is found. Maybe it's forgiveness that leads unto freedom.

I don't know what it is for you, but you are here because he wants something for you. That's the heart of our God. He doesn't need anything from you. We can add nothing to him. He wants everything for us. He's a good God, and his name is Jesus Christ. He is a king who has come to lead all captives home, for he has overcome anything that would imprison, enslave, or separate us from God forever.

We're so thankful, God, that this is true. We rejoice in you. It's in your name we pray, amen.

Porch, let's stand together right now. I don't know what tonight has felt like for you. I don't know what God is doing in this moment, but I would just ask… Not for my sake…I'm going to be here next week…but for yours. Don't rush out. Don't race away. God has been working to this moment now, and he wants to meet with you. He wants to take you farther, wants to lead you deeper, wants to know you more. Do you want it for yourself?

We have a team down front that would love to pray with you and process with you. Some of you need to come down and pray with somebody. I'm just going to say it. If you come forward, you will never tell us something that would ever surprise us. We would love to pray with you. We would love to process whatever it is God is doing in this space. Let's sing together.