"Put to Death"

Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:44
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Intro: I worry so much. I always have. It stems from my old nature.
In Colossians 3:17, we get a sense of God's vision for our lives. Here's what it is: Read: Colossians 3:17
Colossians 3:17 ESV
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We live in a day and age that's pessimistic. It is hyper-aware of what it does not have. It is ready to be offended by anything.
What happens when the people of God just shine brightly by not being perturbed but just being grateful for what we've been given, will shine brightly in the cynicism of our day.
This is something that God is wanting us to constantly be working on. He wants us to not just be knowers of His word but to put it into action. This a quite a gap for many of us.
This is what God is up to. He is after our integration, that is to have the gap shrink between head and heart and word and deed. This is his vision for our lives: integration, gratitude, and gladness.
Before we get any further into our message today, let’s take the time to read through the whole passage. Read Colossians 3:1-17 (Our focus will be on 5-11)
Colossians 3:1–17 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 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. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We have an understanding of what's going on here. Something I want to draw your attention to is the seriousness of what's going on in this text.
"You should put to death, you should murder, you should kill, you should act violently toward…" and then this list of behaviors. John Owen said, "Be killing sin, or it will be killing you."
He is pushing this point. When it comes to sexual immorality, sex outside the bounds God has given us, you should be serious about putting that to death. Do not play with that thing.
Do not try to train that thing. That thing is not a friend. It is not a pet. It will devour and destroy you. Something is trying to kill you, and you shouldn't play around with that.
He doesn't just mention sexual immorality here. He mentions impurity, and impurity is any moral corruption.
If you are morally corrupt… So, you're shady at work. You're underhanded in a relationship. That's moral corruption.
He moves on from there and talks about passion. He is not saying you can't be passionate about things. He is saying you shouldn't be led by your stomach. Are you tracking with me on that?
You just give yourself over to various passions. Then when he talks about evil desires in this text, he is talking about impulses or compulsions that are out of step with God's good plan for our lives.
Everyone in this room, regardless of how long you've been around church, will have these impulses, these compulsions, to give ourselves over to things that are out of God's good design for our lives.
Then he moves on, and he talks about covetousness. Here's why coveting is such a big deal. We may not think it’s a big deal, but coveting is an accusation against God.
When you covet, you make the accusation against God that he is not good, that he has not done what's best for you, that he is cruel, that he withholds from you what is good for your flourishing.
You make an accusation against God that is a lie and smears his character. Coveting is a very serious sin. In fact, this is the one he calls idolatry.
You make yourself your own God when you covet, because you say, "You don't know what you're doing. You don't know what's best.
I know what's best, and I deserve this. I should have this, and I need these things. You have not given them to me." That's coveting.
This is what's happening in this text. Don't play with this. That's what the apostle Paul is saying here. "Hey, you mess around with this, someone is going to die."
I'm just saying very few of us take this approach to sin.
When we have impulses and compulsions and they're toward sexual immorality or they're toward moral corruption, very few of us have the thought, "Something is trying to kill me here!"
Then the next part. I love this. I think we don't think well about this because of a lot of propaganda, but he says that because of these things the wrath of God is coming.
I think one of the biggest lies getting lapped up these days is "God is a God of love. Therefore, he could never be angry with anyone. If God is a God of love, there is no room for him to have any wrath."
Yet common sense would tell you the greater the love, the greater capability of wrath. You cant ignore this friends.
If you came over to my house and you took my DVD player, it’s like $25. But, let’s say you take it, broke it, and even ran it over with your car. Intense right?
I mean, I'm going to think you're a psychopath, but I'm just going to go get another DVD player. But do this with one of my children, I'm a stable dude, but you know I’m going to flip, right?
The greater the love, the greater the wrath. It is a silly god of your imagination when you think God could never be wrathful toward what destroys the crown jewel of his creation, namely humankind.
What does sexual immorality do? What is this kind of compulsive, impulsive thing? What does moral corruption do?
It sows discord, destruction, and devastation to things God cherishes and loves, so he is rightly wrathful about the disintegration of something he loves so deeply, namely you and me.
Then the next part of this text is this beautiful encouragement to Christians. "Hey, hey! That's not you anymore.
Since you have a new relationship with Christ and you have a new relationship because of Christ with sin, your relationship with sin has changed. Therefore, put it away.
Now watch this progression "…put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk… Do not lie to one another…"
Now what you just saw there is the disintegration of relationships and the kind of relationships that form us and sustain us. Continuing in our old selves eats us alive.
Here's how you've experienced this. You have coveted someone or something they have. You have begun to be angry. Then you begin to steadily build opposition against them.
We'll slander them. We'll make up stories. We will point out their weaknesses. We will take any credit they receive from others.
"Hey, that guy is great." "I mean, yeah. He is great for a guy who has gone through three divorces." You know, stuff where we just want to discredit and slander. Then slander leads to obscene talk.
Now when we hear "obscene talk," we think of cuss words. All right? That's not what "obscene talk" is in this text. This is cursing, not language but cursing someone.
Don't think witchcraft here but think of it this way. You can hurt people with your words. There are some things that can be said to you that will haunt you for the rest of your life.
Then that leads to lying, because when you get confronted about all this stuff, "No, that's not what happened. What had happened was…" You begin to lie to get out from under the weight of conviction.
Then he moves on from there. Since you have been raised with Christ, since your life is hidden with Christ in God, you used to do these things, but now you've been made new.
The New Testament loves the imagery of clothing and armor and taking it off and putting it on and those kinds of things. Illus: My Aquaman PJ’s (Until the disintegrated).
This is what Paul is trying to create in the minds of his hearers. "Stop wearing that. That's not who you are anymore. You're wearing your old PJ’s, not take off those old things."
Now my guess is if you have a church background, none of this is new. "Wait a minute! Are you saying sexual immorality is wrong? Why has no one ever told me that at church?"
No, no. We know these things. What I want to talk about is why it's so difficult for us to actually practice them. I haven't said anything here that most of us aren't aware of.
I think the real question is why are we so inconsistent in the application, and why do we seem to lack the power to surrender to this in such a way that we live lives that line up with God's good grace for us?
The more we can grasp this concept, the more victory we walk in. The more we can't grasp it in our guts (not in our minds), the more we're hamstrung by holiness consistently increasing in our lives.
With that said, let me give you the concept. The concept that's woven throughout these 17 verses is the concept of identity (who we are at the core of our essence).
You see this starting in verse 1. "If then you have been raised with Christ…" Notice the text does not say, "If you believe Christ was raised…" No, no, no. It puts you with Christ.
"If you have been raised with him…" Then in verse 4, "When Christ who is your life…" It's not, "Christ, who you worship on the weekends." No. "When Christ who is your life…"
Then you see it most fully in verse 11. Read: Colossians 3:11 What Paul does here so effectively is saying, the "Wherever you are, just be that identity," is now obsolete in Christ.
Colossians 3:11 ESV
11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
You might have secondary identity markers, but your primary identity marker is you are in Christ in God. You have been raised with Christ.
Your identity is not made up where you decide it's made up. It's given to you. I think this is the concept we must grasp in its fullness.
It won't be easy for us to do because we're living in a day where what I'm talking about right here is considered obscene and vile. No one gets to define us! We define ourselves within!
Tim Keller gives four reasons why this idea of finding your identity within, achieving your own identity, is toxic. Here is what they are.
1. It's incoherent and unclear. At the deepest part of who you are, there are conflicting loves. You will have multiple dreams and not be able to achieve all of them. It's incoherent. It's not clear.
2. It's unstable. When I turned 29, I could look back and see 19-year-old Derek was an idiot. I was 29, and I was like, "I can't believe I am still alive!"
But at 29, I thought I was wise beyond my years. I thought I had some life experience. I thought I had a lot to offer the world. At 39, I couldn't believe 29-year-old Derek was allowed to do anything.
Then at 49 (where I am now), I look back at 39-year-old Derek and go, "Oh the mercy of God is unreal! They gave that kid a mic. Why would they have given him a mic?" Straight up.
Now here's what I'm fully convinced of. At 59, I'm going to think where I am right now was silly, uninformed, and harmful. Which one of those do I trust?
My guess is when I'm 69, I'll have some issues with 59-year-old Derek and so forth. At what point do I trust these feelings that are so fickle and change so quickly to self-identify with? It's unstable.
3. It's an illusion. Here's what he says. He argues that every culture never talks about culture itself but lays a grid over the entirety of that culture that informs what they find when they look inside themselves.
When culture says you look inside yourself to find out who you are, you're going to look at your dreams and your feelings through a skewed mindset, often a cultural mindset.
You're going to self-identify with those things. You're going to say, "Here's who I am, world." When you do that, it feels pure, but it's not. It's an illusion.
It's culturally informed, and we don't even realize it's happening. It feels pure to us. We get down into our heart. We're like, "I feel this. I sense this. This is who I am." It's an illusion and here is why.
It's been culturally informed. You think our culture does not define our thoughts? Illus: Look at how much hate we still have and how it is defined. Politics and social media continue to shift our focus.
The last thing is he says finding your identity inside of yourself (trying to achieve your identity) is not just incoherent, unstable, and an illusion, but …
4. It's crushing and excluding. Here's what he means by crushing and excluding. When no God, no Bible, no parents, no community get to help form and shape our identity, all the weight of that lands on us.
When the weight of self-identification lands on us, we will, by nature, take good things and make them ultimate things. Let me give you some of those examples that I think most of us experience.
What people want is to be richer than the people around them, prettier than the people around them, have nicer things than the people around them, have more. Now what is this? This is all identity stuff.
What does this have to do with putting to death, putting away, putting off? Well, as Christians, we don't believe you achieve your identity but rather you receive it.
You receive the identity from the creator God of the universe. Where you and I have longed all our lives to be delighted in, to be rejoiced in, to have a safe place, and to be affirmed.
We long to have a solid foundation on which we can operate and feel free to fail and still be loved and to stumble and be exactly who we are.
Who we exactly are is messy, complex, silly, serious, and all the complexities of the human soul find their rest in a received identity that is bestowed upon them by the creator God of the universe.
You are where you are, so you can try to pep talk yourself all you want, but you know what's going on. You know where you doubt. You know where you screw up. You know where you're morally corrupt.
You know where you're given to impulses and compulsions that are out of step with God. You know this about you.
So you can give yourself that pep talk, but there you are lying to yourself aware that you're lying to yourself, which then does what? Makes you angry. Which leads to what?
Coveting, malice, and wrath. We're back in this cycle we're supposed to be out of as Christians.
The Bible says we are esteemed by God. We are adored by him. If you're like, "Well, I've never read those verses," I'm glad you asked.
Romans 8 says we have been adopted as sons and daughters. Zephaniah 3 says God sings over us and rejoices in us. Stop for a second.
Do you believe the creator God of the universe sees you today hidden in Christ in God, sings over you, and rejoices in you? I'm telling you, most people can't get that.
In the book of Psalms on repeat, you're delighted in, you're delighted in, you're delighted in. In Ephesians 2, you're holy and blameless in his sight. In Colossians 1, you are spotless.
He never lets us down. He does not fatigue of our failures. We are his sons. We are his daughters. He delights in us. He rejoices in us. He sings over us. This is an identity that is secure and unshakable.
There's a freedom to be found in our identity being in Christ. How does that equate to putting things to death?
Well, as a child of the King, I have access and benefits as a child of the King that I'm going to choose easily over what the world offers up to us.
You want to bow to the offer of sexual immorality? You want to bow to the offer of boundless hookups when what God offers is the mingling of souls with your best friend?
God is offering the coming together of mind, heart, body, and soul in a depth of intimacy. Look. I don't care what kind of freaky hook-up sex you're talking about; what God offers always wins.
You want to tempt me with being enslaved and burned up by anger when I can be free of that and trust God to be God and trust that people are as broken as I am?
Trusting God allows me to extend grace to them as God has so consistently extended grace to me, and on and on we can go.
It's in understanding who we are, the putting things to death, putting them away, and putting them off is possible. But when you don't get this, and you don't quite have your identity…
We're so influenced by this view of identity that we constantly kind of step away from who God says we are to try to make our own name, our own self, our own view.
It's near impossible to not at times give into this. The cultural pull is so hard. It's so powerful, and yet it must be rejected. It must be rejected!
I so want you to get this. Like not go, "I get it." No, I want you to get this. I want you to be transformed by it.
In fact, at this point, my sermon is done. I'm just like, "Come on!" But that's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. Let's pray.
Father, I thank you for these men and women. I thank you for your Word. I thank you that you are working in us, moving in us, shaping us. Help us believe what you say about us is true.
Thank you that we are hidden in Christ in you. Thank you that you see us as holy, spotless, and blameless in your sight.
Help us then with that understanding get violent over sins that are trying to destroy, hooks that are trying to be set deep. Let us be serious about our adversary and your power to destroy him.
Let us walk in the power of being the princes and princesses of glory. Let us sit at your table and feast on what you have provided us.
Why would we choose the rags of rebellion when the cloaks of righteousness await us? Help us. It's for your beautiful name I pray, amen.
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