This morning I taught on Colossians 3:5-11. The Apostle Paul wrote:
Col 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
Col 3:6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,
Col 3:7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.
Col 3:8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.
Col 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,
Col 3:10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him–
Col 3:11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
One of Paul’s repeated themes is that of the Christian need to kill sin (Col. 3:5; Rom. 8:13). John Owen is known for the statement: “be killing sin or it will be killing you” (The Mortification of Sin). I pointed out that that is indeed the message of Romans, chapter six. Sin remains after salvation. Believers are pronounced perfect in Christ, but our practice clearly proves that we still experience both the presence and power of sin.
As I began class today, I asked if anyone had a story of an encounter with a snake. One woman shared her experience of being bit by a poisonous, slithery monster. A few others have had close calls, including this author. I then asked if anyone had been attacked by a lion. None had. There was a method to my madness.
“Flee from sin as from a snake; for if you approach sin, it will bite you.
Its teeth are lion’s teeth, and can destroy human lives.” Sirach 21:2
From the moment I found that quote, I loved it! It’s not part of the Bible, but it is true none-the-less. Sin is deadly. It isn’t simply present in the life of the believer, it is powerful and on a mission. It wants to control us and it wants to destroy us. And that is why we must be engaged in the fight! This business is deadly serious.
How are we to fight?
Paul does not leave us guessing.
Rom 8:13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
How do we kill sin? By the Spirit! I briefly developed two ways in which we utilize the Spirit in our battle against the flesh. First, we tap into His power. We pray and ask for His assistance. We fellowship with Him. We walk with Him. Second, we wield the weapon He created–the Scriptures (“…and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” [Eph. 6:17]).
Psa 119:11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
The Spirit and the Spirit-authored Word are indispensible in our ongoing fight against indwelling sin.
So, how would you describe your interactions with the Word of God? Are you reading it? Are you memorizing any of it? Are you studying it in any context such as Sunday School or church or a Bible study? I’ve read about people rejecting the church and the Bible for nature and man-made religions. That may help someone feel religious, but they will prove to be of no value in this life and death struggle against our poisonous, vicious enemy.
Col 2:23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. “Fleshly indulgence.” Another name for the snake and lion-like sin present in our lives.
Friends, let’s not give up in the battle! Sin won’t. It doesn’t go on vacation. It hardly sleeps. Fight! By the Spirit, put it to death!