Colossians 3. 5-11 Mystery of a Mind on Jesus (Mortification)
November 13, 2011 Series: Colossians
Topic: New Testament Passage: Colossians 3:9–3:10
We exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. To that end, it is necessary to stop being tantalized by the squirrels of creation and to start beholding the pure awesomeness of our Creator. With intention, consistency, with enthusiasm, we must SEEK and SET our minds on God’s full revelation of himself, the person and work of Jesus. Scripture teaches that the more we feast, not just sniff, nibble, or politely taste, but FEAST on the knowledge and riches of Jesus, as verse 10 indicates, the more the image of our Creator in us is restored and revealed. Through faith, we look like Jesus, to love like Jesus, and to hope for His return.
Killing what is dead
Up to this point, Paul has largely used indicative statements. He has proclaimed the truth of our transformed identity which comes through believing the gospel—it’s all been very positive and uplifting. Now, things will change and Paul will show us what he meant in Colossians 1.28 by teaching AND warning for the purpose of maturing. Beginning with chapter 3, Paul shifts from indicative to imperative statements. In other words, he begins to command us to act based on the truth we know. In verse 5 he tells us “put sin to death”, to fight our sin, to kill our sin—mortification. But if Paul has already said that, through faith, God has crucified us with Christ making us dead to the world and dead to sin—am I killing a dead horse? I am dead to sin and its power over me…but sin is not dead. It is defeated but still dangerous. In my experience, when Jesus saved me, sin and temptation didn’t go away. The moment God granted me repentance, was the moment God opened my eyes, turned me toward the truth, and showed me the utter sinfulness of my sin. And the more I behold Jesus, the more sin I find that still needs to be killed.
Sinfulness of sin
There is a lot of confusion about sin, because it has become unpopular to talk about sin. It’s easy to talk about the sin “over there” or “out there”, but sin is not something bad that comes from without, it is something bad that comes from within. James 1.14-15 each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. We need to understand how deeply sin has affected us, what Jesus has done to crush the power of sin, and what we need to do to kill the sin still tempts us.
Sin is not temptation and it is not just a mistake; it is the heart-rooted rejection of God’s light, beauty and rule. Apart from salvation, men’s sinful hearts are described in the Bible as dead, full of wickedness, a fountain of evil, broken, blind, deceitful, hard, foolish, proud, and hostile toward God. Because of sinful hearts, men refuse to follow God’s commands, to heed his warnings, or to believe his promises. Biblically, the heart is the center for all of life, the mind, the body, the eyes, the mouth, etc. The heart is the essence of the “inner man”, everything that makes up the true nature of that person. In his wrath, God gave men over to the sinful desires of their hearts. And though they knew God, they denied him, and their love for sin perverted their thinking, perspectives, emotions, words, hopes, definitions, and actions. In their sin, men devoted themselves to worshipping all kinds of man-made gods, everything but the one true God who gave them life. Paul reminds us all in verse 6 that because of sin, God’s ACTIVE wrath is coming. And in verse 7, Paul reminds the Colossians, you too once lived under wrath, once walked with all joy in your sin.
A Change of Hearts
Then something changed. The power of the gospel, the news of Jesus Christ, turned them from enjoying, pursuing, and walking in their sin to desiring to walk in Christ. In order to overcome the power of sin, our Creator did what only He can do—He gave them a new heart, with new desires, and a new walk.
Ezekiel 36.25-27 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
The moment we put our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, everything changes. With his blood, Jesus purchased me once and for all, reconciling me to my Father, and adopting me into His family forever. Before I had a new heart, I loved sin, now, I hate sin—not because it hurts others but because it grieves my Father. This does not mean that Christians never sin. This does not mean that Christian’s won’t commit the BIG sins. This doesn’t mean that Christian’s sin is different doesn’t stink like non-Christian sin. This doesn’t mean that Christians only sin by accident. It means that Christians no longer desire to sin. It means that Christians cannot live or walk in sin without complete misery.
The Holy Spirit and a Sinful Flesh
But wanting to walk is easy and actually walking in Christ is hard. Why? Because this new heart we have still lives within a sinful flesh that will not be removed until Jesus returns. And this sinful flesh wants to kill you. Puritan John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” Because of Christ, sin is disarmed in its power but not yet completely eradicated in its influence. It is caged, it no longer has dominion, but it is still deadly and dangerous. Our flesh, through our thoughts, emotions, experiences, our hopes, our words, the smallest aspects of our lives, never stops fighting to take back dominion, to enslave, and to reign. And it can only reign if you allow it to. Paul writes to believers in Romans:
Romans 6.12-1412 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. We allow sin dominion when we underestimate its power or believe its influence is limited to only a few parts of our lives. We can never cease to be vigilant in our fight against our sinful flesh. This is why the apostle Paul writes: 1Corinthians 9.27 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
BUT PRAISE GOD WE DON’T FIGHT OUR SINFUL FLESH ALONE—that God gave me more than a new heart to fight with. Through faith in Christ, He gave me a new heart AND filled me the Holy Spirit (Ezek 35.27), God himself. This is the qualitative difference between a believer and a non-believer, the reason a non-believer will die in their sin—they are incapable of fighting—there is no fight. Galatians 5.16-17 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
On Killing Sin
Through faith in Christ, by the power of the Spirit, I have the ability to kill sin Paul says is in me—that is where it comes from. Without the Spirit, we can be good shadow boxing legalists, ascetics or mystics, but we’ll defeat nothing. Romans. 8.13 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Killing sin is a part of beholding Christ—it is ½ of repentance. When you DE-CIDE (-cide meaning to kill) to seek and set your mind at Christ, you make a decision to kill off everything else earthly you could look at. IN ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE. We cannot behold sin and Christ at the same time. And we are not fighting for moral perfection in our flesh—that is not possible in this life. Fighting, repenting, turning from our sin as a way of life in order to become in practice what we already are in position—to be who we are.
What Sin our we killing?
Through faith in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul calls us to actively kill sin—not excuse it, not ignore it, manage it, not wish it away. And based on many things, our personalities, our experiences, our contexts, sin attacks us differently. The lesson here is that we MUST KNOW our SIN—how Satan tempts you.
But here, Paul gets very specific about the sins that are most pervasive in the Christian walk 2000 years ago: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, & covetousness, which is idolatry…anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth…lying. They are not much different than today. This list summarized nicely by the apostle John who, in his epistles, said that all that is in the world is: the Lust of the eyes, lust of flesh, pride of life. It is also a good summary of the last 6 commandments of the Law of God which all deal with relationships with other people—relationships based on obedience to first four commandments that deal with our relationship with God. With our relationship with God restored and reconciled completely, we should see our relationship with creation reconciled. And there is nothing that our sinful flesh likes more than that destroy relationships through sexual sin, material sin, and verbal sin.
What your sinful flesh does is try and work you away from being RULED by CHRIST in these areas:
- Sexual sin would include: It’s curious that Paul begins most, if not all of his lists of sin with sexual sin. Sexual sin is unloving because you are using another person for your own selfish pleasure and possibly leading them into sin. This can be mental, physical, or emotion. Sexual sin includes sex with someone you’re not married to, whether it is pre-marital, adultery, or homosexuality. It includes lust and pornography which make people objects, as well as other unrestrained passions for all kinds of appetites. 1Thessalonians 4.3-5 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
- Material Sin: This is how we view the stuff of other people. Coveting is looking what your neighbor has and desiring more than you have, desiring more than one ought to have. This is greed, making an idol out of creation: If I have____________ I’ll be happy. This is the cause of much conflict in our world today. At the core of this is the sin of entitlement, believing I deserve what I don’t have and I want what you have. Coveting leads to feelings of entitlement, of taking, of consuming, of fighting, of occupying. At its heart is fear, a lack of gratitude, and an overwhelming discontent. James 4.1-3 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
- Verbal Sin: This is sin in how we communicate with other people. Christ said that the mouth is one of the best revealers of the heart. And words can reveal hatred, pride, or preoccupation with sinful things. It also extends to telling lies which is always done to gain men’s approval or avoid their rejection. James 3.6-10 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so
How are we killing it?
Your fight against sin begins with believing there is a fight to be had. Sin will either tempt you to not fight, to fight the wrong things, or to fight the wrong way. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. You can get very good at fighting the wrong way. Here is the right way:
Fight honorably – the fight for the glory of God (Right motivation)
Fight intentionally- the fight is strategic (Right battle plan)
Fight ruthlessly – the fight is painful. (Radical Painful Sacrifices – Matthew 4 “cut off”)
Fight relentlessly – the fight is never over (Never stop, never rest, never give up)
Fight skillfully – the fight is biblical (Jesus fought temptation)
Fight communally- the fight is together (There are no Rambos…or shouldn’t be)
Fight faithfully – the fight is Christ-centered (A mind set in the gospel of Christ protects us from despair when life is hard and from pride when it is easy.)
Conclusion - V. 11 – Christ is all in all
Our fight is not just one of defense, it is one of offense. Repentance is both walking away from and walking toward—it is not standing still. Jeremiah 2.1 13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Ephesians 6.10-17 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God