COLOSSIANS-SERIES NR 13
Colossians 3: 5-11: Position and fruit
It is difficult to describe HOW important and significant these verses are. And we receive and accept them as the true Word of God, breathed out by the Holy Spirit.
Needless to say that we should read this paragraph within the context of the first 4 verses of chapter 3. Because it forms a unit. It is ONE issue that the Apostle is dealing with.
In the first 4 verses he describes that which IS true of every true Christian. And then – based upon that – how it impacts our practical life today (verses 5-11).
Well, what IS the spiritual position of every true Christian? Verses 1-4: Every believer is included in the death, funeral, resurrection, ascension and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ! And this inclusion is God’s work, therefore it succeeds 100%. The believer literally occupies a position of absolute exalted security and victory. The Christian’s life is hidden in God.
Now the Apostle is saying: BASED ON (the word THEREFORE at the beginning of verse 5) that position that you already occupy and cannot loose again – go then and put to death the sin that belongs to your earthly nature – and do so on a daily basis.
He is NOT saying: “Put sin to death SO THAT you can gain a position of acceptance with God”. That is what we think he is saying. Because that is how the natural human mind and logic works. But Paul is saying exactly the opposite: BECAUSE you ARE already in a position of acceptance (by virtue of Christ) – let it have an influence on your daily life – pursue sanctification. Rid yourself of the sins that are fixed in your heart like parasites!”
What are these parasites the Apostle is talking about?
Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lies.
These things are disobedience, says the Holy Spirit. It means that it is disobedient to the Lord God’s perfect moral holy will. Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). If you sit and watch sexual immorality or lust or impurity or evil desires or greed or anger or malice or filthy language on TV, you are guilty of lawlessness – Roman’s 1:32 > Not only the DOING, but also the SILENT APPROVAL. Or where these things are just quietly passing uncontrolled through the mind.
The Apostle is emphatic: He says that it is the transgression of the first commandment. Idolatry. Idolatry means to have an idol/god in your head who is not the only true living God of the Bible – The Father of Jesus Christ!
Verse 6 is clear: Because of disobedience, idolatry and lawlessness, the WRATH of God is imminent.
Do we truly realise how serious this truth is?
According to James 2:10, God’s law is like a chain with 10 links: If we are guilty of breaking only ONE link, the whole chain is broken.
Even though we may be guilty of these sins only ONCE in our life, we are guilty of lawlessness.
And one cannot rely on the goodness of God that He will forgive!
No earthly judge will acquit a guilty person and dismiss charges simply because he is a GOOD man! Rather it is because he is good that he WILL punish the guilty one! A good judge will punish justly!
That is exactly what the Apostle is saying here!
Greed, lust, impurity, sexual immorality, filthy language, rage, hate and evil desires, idolatry, disobedience, lies and slander shall cause the WRATH of God to come over the transgressors.
There is no human being who is not in a totally desperate mess. A fatal inescapable dilemma!
There is no escape. None. Except ….. by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.
Because you see – God the Father has transferred the wrath and punishment you and I deserve over onto Jesus and killed Him and brought Him back to life.
And therefore – EVERY person who REPENT and turn away from these sins and begin to trust on Jesus as Saviour, SHALL be completely forgiven and made righteous by God! That is the promise of the Gospel!
Carefully read what Paul is saying:
He is telling the Lord’s children in Colosse (and all true Christians in 2019) that PREVIOUSLY (BEFORE they became Christians, when they were still unsaved) they used to walk in these ways. But now it is something of the past. It is forgiven and they are born by the Spirit.
And then he says: And yet some of these things STILL occur in your hearts and lives!
What does that mean? Is he contradicting himself? It WAS in your life… it IS in your life…
What it means is the following:
Let us use the example of a pig and a cat and a quagmire:
The pig loves to get into the mud and wallows there because he enjoys it – it is his nature.
The cat loses his footing and falls in, but gets out as quickly as he can to cleanse himself again.
PREVIOUSLY the believer lived in the quagmire of greed, lust, impurity, sexual immorality, filthy language, rage, hate, envy, idolatry, disobedience, lies and slander, and enjoyed it.
Now the believer knows the Lord, but yet he/she still falls into the mud, but despises it and does not want to remain there, and desires a holy life.
Paul puts it like THIS:
He is telling the children of the Lord (who occasionally struggle with things like greed, lust, impurity, sexual immorality, filthy language, anger, malice and idolatry, disobedience, lies and slander): SINCE YOU HAVE BROKEN WITH YOUR OLD SELF WITH ITS PRACTICES AND PUT ON THE NEW SELF, NOW LIVE THE LIFE OF A NEW CREATION!
Can one believe that??
WHILE there are yet parasites clinging to their hearts and lives, he tells them: You HAVE broken (past tense) with the old self and you are NOW living the new life!
That shows us something very important:
The Christ-believer occupies a fixed position before God – which cannot change: IN CHRIST the old self is dead (Included with Christ’s death and resurrection) and the new self is alive EVEN if there may still be parasites! Christ Jesus is all, and is in all (all who are children of the Lord). Even though there are still parasites present, Christ IS everything and at work in everyone!
And based on THAT, the Christ-believer must and can rid himself/herself of the parasites! Verse 5: PUT TO DEATH whatever is still part of your earthly nature…!
HOW does a Christian put to death the parasites of greed, lust, impurity sexual immorality, filthy language, rage, evil desires and envy and idolatry, disobedience, lies and slander?
You realize and believe that Christ is EVERYTHING in your life and that He is at work IN your life. That is the reason why these things trouble you so much and why you are grieved by it and you so much yearn to be free. It is because you are living a life that does not exist any longer. The old self is no longer, but you want to give him a place.
And you suppress the new self! It is an untenable situation!
Therefore: Confess the sin and turn your back on it with finality. And place your trust anew over onto the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. And take measures to prevent a relapse into that sin. Dispose of your television if you must – to mention an example. Love Jesus more that you do you TV (or whatever else). Take drastic measures. Take radical action with the sin! That is what we must do and how we should deal with it – NOT try to destroy the old self, because it has already been dealt with in and through the death of Jesus! We are not working TOWARDS a position. We are working OUT OF an already acquired position.
Translated by Marthie Wilson