Put to Death

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  (Colossians 3:5-17)
“Put to death therefore….”

Hang on a second – yesterday we said that we have died and been raised in Christ. It was a done deal, all finished, freed to live lives of praise and worship. Has Paul changed his mind and his theology between the end of verse 4 and the beginning of verse 5? Well fortunately the answer to that question is no! Paul is simply recognising the reality of our lives as Christians. We live in an in-between season.

Jesus has totally fulfilled his incarnational mission but is still waiting to return and usher in the fulfilment of history with the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21). In the same way, we are complete in our justification right now but we are also working out our sanctification until either Jesus returns or we step into his presence through death (see Romans 6:8-14). Paul is therefore reminding us in these verses that we are still works in progress. We still live in a broken world which still continues to be damaged by sin. The power of sin has been broken, but the impact of sin is still felt in our world and in our lives. This world will be judged (verse 6) because these sinful actions and sinful attitudes matter. We have been freed from all fear of judgment because we are hidden in Christ, but we must not continue to walk in these sinful ways – they damage us and they damage the people around us.

The good news is that, because of our freedom in Christ, we do not have to walk through life with ongoing sin in our lives. We have been set free and we can actively walk in that freedom. What Paul is saying here, however, is that we need to be active in that process. Paul is clear that our sanctification – that is, our transformation into the likeness of Jesus – is a work of the Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 3:1-6, 2 Corinthians 3:18). However, he is equally clear that we need to be active in that process. Look at the verbs that Paul uses: “Put to death”; “Rid yourself”; “Take off”; “Put on”; “Clothe yourself”; “Forgive”. If we want to walk free of the “sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1-3) we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit who lives within us.

Over the next couple of days, we will spend some time looking at how we can walk free from repetitive sin in our lives. It is important that, before we get into that process, we remind ourselves of the balance that Paul gives us. We are totally freed from the power of sin in our lives because of the work of Christ – therefore we have the power to walk free of the sins that rob us of living in the joy of that freedom.
  1. There can be two extremes in this process of sanctification – all God on the one hand, and all me on the other. Which of these extremes do you tend to fall into?
  2. Why do you think you drift towards this extreme?
  3. What would you say to someone to help them keep a biblical balance between these two extremes?
Father God, thank you that you have set me free from the power of sin. Thank you that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now working by your Holy Spirit in my spirit to lead me into the fullness of my freedom in Christ. Help me to live my life today in the joy of that truth. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were written by Simon Elliott, who is executive pastor of our church.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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