Put To Death The Old Self
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. (Colossians 3:5-7, NKJV)
Therefore points back to our identification with the risen and enthroned Lord Jesus mentioned in Colossians 3:1-4. It is because we understand this fact that we can put to death the things in our life that are contrary to our identity with Jesus.
We put to death in the sense of denying these things and considering them dead to us and us dead to them:
“To gratify any sensual appetite is to give it the very food and nourishment by which it lives, thrives, and is active.” – Adam Clarke
There is importance in listing and naming these sins as Paul does in this section. “It is far easier to drift into a sin which one does not know by name than consciously to choose one whose very title should be repugnant to a Christian.” – N.T. Wright
Fornication, uncleanness, passion and evil desire: Each of these terms refers to sexual sins. Covetousness is simple, but insidious greed, and nothing less than idolatry. There is no way that Jesus would walk in any of these sins, so if we identify with Him, we won’t walk in them either.
G. Campbell Morgan lists three ways that covetousness is terribly destructive:
- “First, it is idolatry, in that it only obtains when man thinks of life consisting in things possessed, rather than in righteous relationship to God.”
- “It is also a sin against others, for to satisfy the desire, others are wronged.”
- “Finally, it is self-destructive, for these wrong conceptions and activities always react upon the soul to its own undoing.”
- Morgan added: “And yet, what ecclesiastical court ever yet arraigned a church-member for covetousness?”
The sins mentioned previously are part of the way the world lives and not the way Jesus lives. Every Christian is faced with a question: “Who will I identify with, the world or with Jesus?”
These sins invite the wrath of God. Because the world loves this kind of sinful lifestyle, they don’t come in humility to Jesus. As they continue in these sins, it adds to their condemnation. One sin is enough to send anyone to hell (James 2:10), but there are greater levels of condemnation (Matthew 23:14).
In part, the wrath of God comes as God allows men to continue in sinful, and therefore self-destructive, behavior (as in Romans 1:24-32).
These sins may mark a world in rebellion against God, but they are in the past tense for the Christian.
Simply put, the Christian should not live like the sons of disobedience. A true Christian cannot be comfortable in habitual sin.
Paul says that Christians once walked in these sins. It is possible – though tragic – that these sins should occasionally mark a Christian’s life, but they must not be a Christian’s walk, their manner of living.
Gracious Father God, help us to understand all that You have done on our behalf. Once we understand what You have done, it is a small thing for us to respond in a manner that honors and brings glory to You! In Jesus name, Amen.
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