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Colossians 1:9-17


Intro: There is, in nature, an invisible, yet very real and definite, line above which you will never find a snake. Early settlers in America referred to this line as “the snake line”. Often, when they were purchasing a property, they would ask the seller whether or not the property was above “the snake line”.


They knew the land on the mountain was more rocky, harder to clear, and not as fertile as the land in the valley. But, they also knew the land in valley was infested with rattlesnakes, adders, and copperheads. Many settlers chose to raise their families on the higher ground, above “the snake line”, rather than risk snake bites for themselves or their families.


Just as the Lord has drawn an invisible line in the mountains which the snakes can’t pass, there is a spiritual “snake line” as well.

•  There is a level of living that is higher than that of the world.

•  There is a level of life available to God’s children that allows them to live lives that are holy, pleasing to the Lord, and free from many of the problems that cause “the way of the transgressor” to be “hard.” (Proverbs 13:15)


This passage speaks about that spiritual “snake line.” Here, we are told how we get above “the snake line”, and how we can stay there. I want to share three facts with you about Living Above The Snake Line. I want to show you that We Have Been Elevated Above The Snake Line; We Have Been Enlightened About The Snake Line; and that We Have Been Empowered Against The Snake LIne.


Let’s consider these facts as we think about Living Above The Snake Line.



When we were born into this world, we were born in the low lands of sin.

•  The Bible is clear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23.

•  Add to that the fact that every sinner is “dead in trespasses and sins”, Ephesians 2:1.

•  And, that we all “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”, Ephesians 2:2.

•  And that “we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”, Ephesians 2:3.

•  The image becomes crystal clear.


The Word of God is teaching us that every lost person in the world lives below “the snake line”. They prove it every day they live by the way they live, and by the things they do. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, (Numbers 21), the lost have been bitten by the serpent of sin and all are in great danger.


•  The lowland of sin is a place of spiritual poverty, weariness, exhaustion, and collapse.

•  It is a place of hopelessness, sorrow, confusion, and pain.

•  It is a place of broken hearts, shattered dreams, ruined relationships, and troubled minds.

•  It is a place where the vicious serpents of sin inject their poisonous venom over and over, bringing pain, poverty, destruction, and death. (The testimony of this truth is everywhere to be seen!)

•  The lowland is a place of terrible danger!


The end of the road for every person bitten by the serpent of sin is death, Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4. The death referred to in the Bible is not merely the death that leads to the cemetery; it is a death the Bible calls the “second death.” It speaks of eternal separation from God Himself in the fires of Hell, Psalm 9:7.


Here is how the New Testament describes it: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8–9 KJV)


That is the condition of the lost sinner.


•  When a person comes to Jesus Christ for salvation, that person is lifted out of the valley of sin, and is set in high places with Jesus Christ.

•  Faith in Jesus Christ, through the power of the Gospel of grace, delivers the child of God from the lowland with all its terrors.

•  Faith in Jesus lifts the believer out of the valley with all its snakes and sets them above “the snake line”.


The land above “the snake line”, is a place a place of spiritual replenishment, spiritual abundance, spiritual safety, spiritual security, spiritual hope, and complete spiritual abundance. Above “the snake line” is the place you want to be! In verses 12-14, Paul tells us how believers get there.


Consider the language Paul uses here.

•  V. 12 - God is our “Father” - When a sinner comes to Jesus for salvation, the sinner is adopted into the family of God, Romans 8:15.


•  V. 12 - We have been “made...meet...to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” - This phrase means that all believers have been given their portion of the eternal glory those already in Heaven enjoy today. There is hope and Heaven down the road for every child of God, John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:4.


•  V. 13 - We have been “delivered...from the power of darkness” - Sin and Satan no longer have any power over us. We have been given the ability to say “no” to sin, temptation, and the tricks and traps of the devil, Rom. 6:14. In other words, we are free!


•  V. 13 - We have been “translated...into the kingdom of His dear Son” - The word “translated” means “to be carried away.” When God saved us, He “carried us away”, taking us out of the lowland of sin, (“the power of darkness”), placing us into the “kingdom of His dear Son”. We have a new “Father”. We have a new “King”. As citizens of a new kingdom, we have an entirely new way of living, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians  3:20.


•  V. 14 - “We have redemption through His blood” - The word “redemption” means “to loose after the payment of a ransom price”. The Lord Jesus died on the cross to redeemed us from the wrath of God. He paid our debt in His Own blood, and He set us free to live a new life in Him.


•  V. 14 - We have “the forgiveness of sin” - All the things we did in the lowland of sin, along with all corruption produced in us, and by us, has been cleansed away, and we are “pardoned”. We are “free”! (Job 14:17; Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17; Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 50:20; Micah 7:19; 1 John 1:7)


All of this is strong evidence that we have been elevated to a higher place in Christ. He reached into the lowland of sin and He lifted us out for His glory. He set us on higher ground, above “the snake line”, and He freed us from the power of the serpent to control us any longer. Hallelujah!


According to the Bible, our new life in Christ, our life above “the snake line” is a reality.

•  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1–3 KJV)

•  “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15 KJV)

•  “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)


According to the same Bible, we have been lifted higher than we can imagine:

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:6 KJV)


If you have been saved, you have been elevated!

•  You are not the same person you used to be.

•  You do not have the same desires you used to have.

•  You have been equipped to live on a much higher level than the world around you.

•  For that, you should do what Paul says in verse 12 and give “thanks unto the Father.”


If you have not been saved, you are still in danger. The poison of the serpent of sin still courses through your veins. You are trapped in your sins, and you are headed to Hell.


Your story does not have to end in judgment and Hell!

•  You can be elevated.

•  You can be lifted out.

•  You can be delivered.

•  You can be given a new life; a new life in Christ.

•  He will save you.

•  He will change you.

•  He will set you above “the snake line”.

•  In Jesus, above “the snake line”, you will free, safe, secure, and saved.

•  Come to Jesus, lost friend! Come to Jesus right now!


  I.  We Have Been Elevated Above The Snake Line



Those who have been saved by grace and placed above “the snake line” understand the difference between the new life they have been given in Jesus and the old life they lived in sin.

•  The power and privileges of the new life in Jesus stand in striking contrast to the old life of sin lived below “the snake line”.

•  The character and quality of our new life in Jesus clearly exposes the emptiness and futility of the life lived in the lowlands of sin.


Notice how Paul describes the differences:

•  V. 9 - When we are given a new life in Christ above “the snake line”, we are given the ability to know God, to know His will, and to know His truth. All of that is taught in the language of verse 9.

-   “Filled” - “to be completely full”

-   “Knowledge” - “to know fully”

-   “Will” - “that which God has decreed”

-   “Wisdom” - “God’s truth, known, understood, and lived out”

-   “Spiritual Understanding” - “an intelligence outside ourselves”; “the ability to know and comprehend what cannot naturally be known or comprehended”

-   This verse teaches us that the redeemed have been given the ability to know deep, spiritual truth.

-   Those who live above “the snake line” can, to some degree, understand God and come to know His truth, His will, and His ways, and they are enabled to live out that truth and knowledge in their daily lives.

-   “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV)


•  The result of this godly knowledge and wisdom is exposed in verse 10. This verse shows us what sets those living above “the snake line” apart from those who love below. Those who live above “the snake line”:

-   Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing - This does not mean that we are “worthy” of what the Lord did for us when He died, was buried, rose again, and redeemed us by His grace. We could never merit that kind of love, mercy, and grace.


The word “worthy” means “becoming; or in a manner fitting of”. Paul says here that those who live above “the snake line” are enabled to live lives that are “pleasing” to the Lord. They are able to live in a “manner befitting” what the Lord did for them. In other words, their lives can be lives “that look good on Jesus”, Philippians 1:27.


-   Are fruitful in every good work - This means they are “fertile”. Their lives give clear evidence that they have been saved by grace.


How does a saint prove they are saved?

•  They prove it by their obedience (John 14:15).

•  They prove it by their holiness (1 Peter 1:16).

•  They prove it by their love (1 John 3:14).

•  They prove it by their works (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:18).

•  In other words, they prove it by the fruit they bear. The saints bear fruit simply by “abiding” in Jesus. When we yield to Him, and allow Him to live through us, our lives will be fruitful for His glory.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5 KJV)

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” (John 15:8 KJV)


-   Are increasing in the knowledge of God - Those who live above “the snake line” are ever increasing in their understanding of Who God is, of what God desires, and of how God operates. This knowledge comes from reading His Word, communicating with Him in prayer, and by walking with Him in humble obedience day by day.

-   This kind of life is simply not possible to those who are still in their sins. It is only available to those who are saved by grace; to those who have been placed above “the snake line”.


People who know the Lord are different!

•  They have been changed by the power of God and elevated above “the snake line”.

•  People who know the Lord strive to live differently than they used to.

•  They have been changed, and they want to strive for a life that is higher than the life they lived.


Illustration: Once, a little girl was playing in the yard when she stopped to examine the flowers in her mother’s flower garden.


She said, “Mom, I know why flowers grow”.


“Why?”, asked the mother.


“Because”, explained the little girl, “they want to get out of the dirt”.


That desire to “get out of the dirt” dwells in the heart of every child of God. We want to live better because we know Him!


This desire, while real, does highlight a serious problem for those who have been saved. The problem is, we still sin and we sin frequently. For this to happen, we must descend below “the snake line”, reentering the country inhabited by the serpents of sin.


Here’s the really sad part, for us to move below “the snake line” does not require us to move an inch geographically. We don’t have to make a physical move to go from the highest heights in Jesus to the lowest lows in sin.


We can go from the top of the highest spiritual mountain to the bottom of the lowest spiritual valley in an instant, and we can do it all in our hearts.

•  That is why you can find sinners like Adam and Eve in the perfection of the Garden of Eden, and saints like the Ephesian believers in the cesspool of ancient Ephesus.

•  That is why we can sometimes be elevated spiritually on Sunday, and deep in the valley of sin by Monday.


We need to remember some very important facts.

•  If we have been saved, we know the truth.

•  We know where “the snake line” is.

•  We know where the Lord wants us to be.

•  When we sin, we sin because we choose to live below the lofty place we have been elevated to in Christ.

•  In other words, we always sin because we choose to.

•  We sin because we choose to live below the place we have been placed by the Lord Jesus.

•  We must descend below “the snake line” before we can be harmed by the serpent of sin!


Remember David, Jonah, Samson, King Saul, the Prodigal Son? They all fall into sin because they chose to go down. They chose to descend into the valley of sin and to leave the heights of holiness and closeness of God behind.


•  If you have descended below “the snake line” and allowed sin into your life, you can be forgiven, you can be restored. There is forgiveness and cleansing in confession and repentance, 1 John 1:9.


Sadly, many people, who claim to be redeemed, live below “the snake line”.


Illustration: I heard about a young preacher who rode his bicycle everywhere he went. One day he was walking down the street and met another older preacher who asked him, “Why are you walking? Where’s your bike”?


 The young preacher responded, “I don’t know. It just came up missing. I suppose someone stole it, and I think it might have been a member of my church. What should I do”?


The wise old preacher said, “Go to church on Sunday, and preach on the Ten Commandments. When you get to the one that says, “Thou shalt not steal”, hammer on that a while, and the guilty person will be convicted and return your bike”.


A few days later, the two preachers met again. The younger preacher was riding his bike this time. The older preacher asked him if he had followed his advice.


The younger preacher responded, “Yes I did. I preached though the Ten Commandments and I was planning to preach for a while, like you said, on the one that says ‘Thou shalt not steal’. But, when I got to the one that says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery’, I remembered where I left my bike”.


We laugh at that, but we all know there is a kernel of truth there. Often, we know better than we do!


•  If you are still trapped in the lowland of sin, again, I beg you to come to Jesus. He will save you He will cleanse you. He will change your life forever!


  I.  We Have Been Elevated Above The Snake Line

 II.  We Have Been Enlightened About The Snake Line



These verses teach us that we are not on our own in our fight against sin. Verse 11 tells us that we are “strengthened” by “His power”. His “power” works to give us “patience” and “longsuffering with joyfulness”.


Let’s take a moment to examine the words in that verse. They help us understand the the truth that we do not have to live like we use to live anymore. We have been place above “the snake line”, and we have the Lord’s help to stay there.


•  Strengthened - The word means to be “enabled”.

•  Might - This word speaks of “authority, force, and power”.

•  Glorious Power - This phrase refers to a force that extends “beyond the ordinary”.

•  Patience - “Patient endurance” is in mind here.

•  Longsuffering - This word refers to “forbearance; or standing firm” when others would fall.

•  Joyfulness - This word speaks of “cheerfulness”.

•  Taken together with verses 15-17, this teaches us that we are “enabled” to live for God with a “power” that exceeds “ordinary” human “power”.

•  By His “power”, we are “enabled” to “stand firm” with a “cheerful” spirit, “enduring patiently” everything life, the world, and the enemy throws at us.

•  This “power” is the “power” our Lord exerted in creation.

•  It is the “power” He exerts to hold this universe together.


The Lord Jesus Christ enables us to live for Him by extending to us His awesome, omnipotent ability. This makes it possible for us to live above “the snake line”, not in our own “power”, but in His. His “power”, working in us, gives us the “authority” to live lives that are “pleasing” to God, “fruitful in every good work”, and ever “increasing in the knowledge of God.”


The end result is that we do not have to live below “the snake line” any longer! We do not have to be slaves to our passions and sins any longer, Roman 6:14. We have been elevated; we have been enlightened; and we have been enabled to live a new kind of life in Christ Jesus. We are free, free to live for the Lord, and we are “enabled” to live for Him by His “power


How do we achieve this kind of life? Do we do it by fighting against sin and our sinful natures? Do we do it by living by rules? Do we do it by our own efforts? No! We do it by simply yielding to Jesus, John 15:5. When we submit to Him, He lives through us. When He lives through us, reproduces Himself in us, Galatians 5:22-23. The way to defeat sin is by altitude. When we live on the level of Christ, we are above “the snake line” and sin cannot affect us.


Illustration: I read about a pilot in World War II who took off from one of the Pacific islands early one morning. A little while after take off he heard a scratching noise coming from between the walls of the fuselage of his plane. He soon realized that it was a rat. He cut the engine and heard what sounded like chewing.


Between those walls, with the rat, were the cables that controlled the flaps and rudders, the hydraulic lines, and all the electrical wires. The pilot knew that the rat would eventually chew through something important and cause the plane to crash. There was no way the pilot could get to the rat, but he soon settled on a means of killing the creature.


Pulling back on the stick, he guided his plane straight up into the air, aiming directly toward the sun. Higher ands higher the plane climbed into the sky. Soon, the plane reached an altitude where there was very little oxygen. In a moment, the chewing stopped. When the pilot landed, he soon recovered the dead body of the rat.


The remedy that saved the pilot and his plane was altitude. The rat couldn’t live without oxygen.


The solution to our sin problem is altitude. When sin begins to creep in; when you are tempted to descend below the place Christ set you when He saved you; when you see the greenery, and sights of the lowland; you must not go down. The answer is for you to go up. Set your face toward the Son of God and climb ever higher until the desire for the world below fades away.


Conc: Illustration: Once two boys were playing around some cliffs by the seashore in Nova Scotia. On a ledge of one of those cliffs they found a nest containing some baby eagles. They took one home and placed it with one of the hens and her chicks.


Over time, the little eagle grew, and as it grew, it became more and more apparent that the eagle was not a chicken. The eaglet would stand for long hours staring up into the sky, as if longing to be flying high up there, instead of walking around on the ground like a chicken.


In the course of time, the eagle would try flapping his wings, but he only managed to flop around on the ground.


Then, one day, the young eagle was standing in the sunlight, staring up into the sky as usual, when another eagle flew overhead. The grounded eagle became strangely agitated. Stretching himself up on the ends of his talons, he unfolded his great wings, and with a strange cry he rose up from the ground, higher and higher he flew, until soon he disappeared from sight.


It was a great day for that eagle when he discovered that he was not a chicken destined to spend his life scratching in the dirt, but that he was an eagle, meant to soar in the heavenly blue, far above the world below.


•  It will be a great day in your life when you finally learn you do not have to grovel in sin.

•  It will be a great day in your life when you discover that Christ saved you to dwell in the high places, above the sin and sorrows of this wicked, sin-cursed world.

•  It will be a great day when you finally come to understand that you can live above “the snake line”.

•  It will be an even greater day when you begin to live there!


Has the Lord spoken to you today?

•  Do you need to be saved and delivered from sin? Do you need the Lord to lift you above “the snake line”?

•  Do you need to set your eyes higher than the level on which you currently live? Do you need to climb above “the snake line”?

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