Colossians 3:5-7. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
One of the dangers of telling Christians that they are no longer bound to “cause-effect” living is that we are left with Christians who are wondering how to live. For many it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under them when you try to replace living from Christian principles with living from Christ the person. When performance and score-keeping are taken off the table, what are we left with? How do we even know where to go next as Christians? Religion is our default.
But if it’s not about religion then what is life about? Are we supposed to just passively sit by and wait for Jesus to return?
One thing is very clear about our union with Christ – we were not saved into a life of passivity. Yes, we were passively crucified with Christ.
Colossians 3:3. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Then, we were passively raised to new life in Christ.
Colossians 3:1. you have been raised with Christ.
But now, having been resurrected in Christ, what is our ongoing disposition in him? Paul answers with two metaphors: 1) Sin killing – Put to death therefore what is earthly in you, and 2) Clothes changing – But now you must put them all away…seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self.
Once again, here in Colossians 3, we find the basic difference between law and gospel. If law takes us from what we do to what we must become, then the gospel takes us from what we have become to what we do.
You have died…therefore put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
You have put off the old self and have put on the new self…now you must put them all away, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
You see what we do always flows out of who we are. We can’t be saved into the transforming love of Christ and passively stay the same. Yes, we passively rest in God’s love, but that love inside us will not stay passive. Like rain that flows to the sea, it will flow powerfully out of us as a stream of living water. It will actively love others by putting sin to death and putting off the old self.
Therefore, if we truly love the family of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will put to death the earthly sexual sins that rage inside of us – sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Wait a minute Brady, aren’t these sins my own private business? Nope. Our misguided sexual energy is not only destroying the self, but also the entire church community. How on earth can we love each other as brothers and sisters if sexual covetousness is controlling our minds, rather than the self-sacrificing mind of Christ? We can’t. So put it on the cross where it belongs.
And then, if we truly love the family of God, we will also put away (like changing clothes) the earthly speech that rages forth toward others from our mouths (or Twitter) – anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk…Do not lie to one another. Just like our inner passions, our outer speech is devouring the body of Christ, harming the fellowship of the Spirit. How on earth can we love each other as brothers and sisters if anger, wrath, malice, slander, and lies are flowing out of our mouths? We can’t. So like Lazarus coming out of the tomb, let’s take these zombie clothes off, and put back on our resurrection robes.
Does all this sound like the same old rule following to you? It’s not. It’s the opposite. It’s not law keeping to find love, it’s living out of love that has found us. It’s living as the new self. Living in “to live is Christ.”
What do you need to actively put to death in your heart today? What speech do you need to put off?
You in Christ
Why is it so important to begin with who we are, before looking at what we do?
Christ in you How might the Christ in you live out his sexuality? What might his speech sound like?
Playlist: Putting Off. Putting On.
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