Past and Present
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. (Colossians 3:5-7)
In Colossians 3:1-4 Paul told us that for the Christian, Jesus Christ is now their life and we are identified with the risen and enthroned Jesus. In light of that, he told believers that we must put to death the things in our life that are contrary to our identity with Jesus.
We put these things to death in the sense of denying them, and considering them dead to us and us dead to them. When we gratify a sensual appetite we give that appetite the food and nourishment that makes it thrive. When treat ungodly, sensual desires as if they were dead, we deny them strength to influence our life.
Paul then listed many specific sins that we are to die to. It was important to list and name these sins as Paul did. We need to specifically and individually deal with such areas of habit and temptation.
Paul began by describing sexual sins: Fornication, uncleanness, passion and evil desire. Sex is a wonderful gift from God, but is easily and often corrupted and perverted. Christians need to recognize Jesus as Lord over all their life, including their sexuality.
Yet, it isn’t that the only sins Christian are concerned with have to do with sex. Paul went on to also name covetousness. That desire for more and more is simple, but it is nothing less than idolatry.
G. Campbell Morgan listed three ways that covetousness is terribly destructive:
– “First, it is idolatry, in that it only obtains when man thinks of life consisting in things possessed, rather than in righteous relationship to God.”
– “It is also a sin against others, for to satisfy the desire, others are wronged.”
– “Finally, it is self-destructive, for these wrong conceptions and activities always react upon the soul to its own undoing.”
The sins mentioned previously are part of the way the world lives and not the way Jesus lived. Every Christian is faced with a question: “Who will I identify with, the world or with Jesus?” Remember: We are identified with Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:4). Since there is no way that Jesus would walk in any of these sins, we won’t walk in them either.
Paul recognized that these sins used to characterize us all: in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. These sins may mark a world in rebellion against God and destined for His wrath, but they are in the past tense for the Christian.
Paul says that Christians once walked in these sins. It is possible – though tragic – that these sins should occasionally mark a Christian’s life, but they must not be a Christian’s walk, their manner of living. Simply put, the Christian should not live like the sons of disobedience. A true Christian can not be comfortable in habitual sin.
Believe it today: As a disciple of Jesus, these sins are your past, and your present is life in Jesus Christ.
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