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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”—Colossians 3:5–10 (NIV)
Yesterday, we studied Paul’s instruction to “set [our] minds on things above, not on earthly things.” In Colossians 3:12–14, which we’ll study in the coming days, provides us with a solid understanding of how to set our hearts on Him and what happens when we do. But today, we’re going to identify the things we must cast off and “put to death” in order to live in pursuit of Him . . . the things that belong to our “earthly nature.”
Sexual sin: Another translation says, “Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex.” In essence, all sex outside of marriage, outside of God’s perfect design, is the wrong kind of sex. God designed systems of life like sex so we can experience the best life possible. Sex outside of God’s design opens up a great deal of unnecessary physical, emotional, and spiritual complications and trauma, pain, bitterness, exploitation, violence, despair, and more. The crushing ripple effect behind porneia is that it consumes your identity, eats at your soul, and dehumanizes others, gradually turning them into objects for pleasure and gratification.
Greed: Paul links greed to idolatry, because as John Gill said, “The covetous man, and the idolater, worship the same for matter and substance, even gold and silver; the covetous man lays up his money, makes no use of it, as if it was something sacred; he looks at it, and adores it, and puts his trust and confidence in it, and his heart is so much set upon it, that he neglects the worship of the true God.” But even deeper than the surface-level desire towards the material, greed implies a deeply prideful, self-idolizing, entitled, ungrateful, grasping spirit that’s unsatisfied with God, what He gives, and wants more, believing he deserves it.
He also goes on to list anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying. As Paul said in Galatians 5:19–21 with a similar list, these are the rotting fruits of a life in pursuit of earthly things, a life spent feeding the sinful nature and not lived by the Spirit. These things result in death, they damage and destroy others, bring about great injustice, and incur the righteous wrath of God.
Christ was crucified for these very things, for our sins, and the sins of the whole world. And in the same way He was put to death to bring an end to the power of sin in this world, we must put to death the power of sin in us by pursuing Christ, His kingdom, His truth, His heart, mind, character, nature, and will, and allow ourselves to be renewed in the image of our Creator and Redeemer, Jesus Christ!
DIG: Why must Christians cast aside earthly things and be renewed into the image of Christ?
DISCOVER: What simple steps can you begin to take in order to cast off the things of this world?
DO: Dying to self and to sin is hard. We need the support of our brothers and sisters! If you don’t already have an established accountability partner, connect with a trusted friend and ask them to help keep you accountable, to check up on you, ask tough questions, have hard conversations, and speak truth into your life. If you do have a relationship like that already, maybe it’s time for a health-check conversation!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.