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Lesson 4: Escape From the World's Ways *

Introduction: Have you heard the claim that the rich are greedy? Does that seem right to you? If the rich are already rich, why would they be greedy for more? Or, is this a reference to a time when the rich were not rich? If it is a reference to the time when the rich were poor, then wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the poor are greedy? Think about the time in your life when you had the least money. Was money a focus? I know that my wife and I were a lot more focused on money when we were first married and we were very poor. Our lesson this week is about being different than the world, and avoiding a focus on money. I think this is a lesson that everyone needs, whether you feel you are rich or poor. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn about focus!

  1. The Right Focus

    1. Read Colossians 3:1. Who are the people who have been "raised with Christ?" (This seems to be a reference to baptism. If you accepted Jesus as the God who became a man, who lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and was raised to eternal life to retake His position in heaven, then this message is for you! This is a message to those who are already saved.)

      1. What does it mean to "set your hearts on things above?"

    2. Read Colossians 3:2. Now we are told to set our "minds" on things above. Are we being asked to do two different things? (I think of my mind as being the seat of logic, and my heart as the seat of emotion. Perhaps we are told to set both our logic and our emotions "on things above.")

      1. Tell me what specific thoughts or emotions you think are involved here?

    3. Read Colossians 3:3-4. What is our future? (That we will appear with Jesus in glory since we are now "hidden with" Him.)
      1. Why should our salvation direct our focus in life? (We should be focused on those things which are above, and not on earthly things because we died to things on earth.)

      2. How much do you think about your future? (Hopefully, we think more about our future than our past. God teaches us that the future for those who are saved is with Him in heaven. Thus, we should be focused on this future!)

      3. What does this say about stewardship? (Recall that when we discussed Luke 12:16-21, the story of the rich farmer who died, his problem was that he prepared for a future on earth and not a future in heaven.)

      4. Is this concern about the future limited to Christians? (Think about all of the pagan cultures who, in their death ritual, try to transfer weapons, wealth and other things for the future use of the person who died.)

    4. Read Colossians 3:5. Now we get to some very clear specifics. What are we supposed to "put to death?"

      1. Does the suggestion that we put these things to death have any relationship to the fact that we died with Jesus and thus look forward to eternal life? (I think that is exactly what is being said here. We should leave these things behind.)

      2. Do you think the text seems to talk mainly about two things: sexual sins and greed? Or, do you view "impurity" and "evil desires" to be broader than sexual sins?

        1. Since our series is about stewardship, what is the specific problem with "greed?" (Colossians says it is "idolatry.")

          1. How is greed idolatry? (The central problem with greed is that we depend on our money rather than depending on God. God saved us by grace, and therefore we should live by His grace!)

      3. How should we put these things to death? What practical approach do you think the Bible suggests? (This goes back to Colossians 3:1-2 which tells us to set our hearts and our minds on "things above," rather than on the things we are trying to put to death.)

        1. Can you control your mind or your heart? (This is where we especially need the help of the Holy Spirit.)

  2. The Coming Wrath

    1. Read Colossians 3:6. Why are these "earthly" things the cause of God's impending wrath? (They are in conflict with God's Kingdom, the "things above." We are saved! Why should we continue with those things that will get the wicked destroyed by God?)

    2. Read Colossians 3:7-8. Yesterday, I had a very intense conversation with an acquaintance who wanted to convert me to Catholicism. In our discussion of the doctrines of the Catholic Church that prevent me from being a member, one that we discussed was my simple view of grace. My acquaintance quoted the Bible as saying that demons also believe in Jesus ( James 2:19). Do you think that this list of things of we must rid from our lives is a matter of salvation? (My Catholic friend did not give me a Bible cite or a full quote. James says demons believe "and shudder." Obviously, demons do not believe in Jesus as their Savior. The list in Colossians is a "to do" list for those who are already saved - to bring their actions in line with their new relationship with Jesus.)

    3. Read Colossians 3:9-10. We previously discussed the need for the power of the Holy Spirit to bring our thoughts and actions in line with our new life. What tool do these verses mention to help us change into the image of our Creator? (Knowledge. Studying the Bible is important to these changes being made in our life.)

      1. Why do you think this verse specifically points out lies as a problem to be eliminated? (Consider the reference to knowledge. Lies specifically impair our ability to have a correct understanding of things.)

    4. Read Colossians 3:11. What else should change in our lives? (We should put away prejudice.)

      1. This text clearly refers to racial prejudice. What other prejudices does it cover? What kind of prejudice is included in "slave or free?" (Economic prejudice. Class prejudice. This goes both ways. We should not have prejudice against the poor. We should not have prejudice against the rich.)

    5. Read Colossians 3:12. You may be asking yourself whether we have lost sight of the topic of stewardship. Do these virtues have any relationship to stewardship? (They seem to be the emotional basis for stewardship - compassion, kindness, and humility.)

    6. Read Colossians 3:13. Is there a connection between forgiveness and stewardship? (You are less inclined to help someone who has made errors. I'm not suggesting that "tough" love is never the answer, but I know that God repeatedly forgives me for the same sins.)

    7. Read Colossians 3:14. What is the master attitude that makes these other attitudes work together? (Love.)

  3. Holy Spirit

    1. Read John 14:16-17. What is an essential part of living the new life and leaving the old life behind? (The Holy Spirit living in us.)

    2. Read John 16:7-13. What is the key to a change of our mind and hearts to reflect the kind of character and actions we have been studying in this lesson? (The Holy Spirit. We cannot change our hearts or our minds. But, the Holy Spirit living in us can.)

    3. Friend, will you change your focus to the future and your new life with Jesus? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to live in you and make these changes possible? Why not ask God for that right now?

  4. Next week: Stewards After Eden.
* Copr. 2018, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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