Summary: When we become a Christian, not only does Christ take away our sin, we identify with him, in death to our old ways, resurrection power to affect change, and life in a whole new way.
Living Life the Way God Intended
When you become a believer, you adopt a whole new set of values. You realign your life to live God’s way instead of Satan’s way. You say, “God, you know better than I do how I should live my life.”
We’ve been in a short mini-series in the book of Colossians. The Apostle Paul spent the first half of his letter to the church in Colossae telling them who they were in Christ, and who Christ was in them. Now he shifts gears and basically says, “You need to put into practice what you already are in principle.” Be who God says you are. Live out your identity. Walk the talk.
An outline for today’s verses could follow the early outline of a water baptism: buried with Christ into death, raised with his resurrection power, up out of the water to live a brand new life. And that’s our three steps for today. First,
1. View your pre-Christian self as dead.
3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God... 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
Verses 3 and 5 sound like a contradiction: verse 3, you died--past tense; and then verse 5, “Put to death...” Why do you need to put to death all these parts of your earthly nature if you already died? It’s a good question, and we already know the answer. We first become saved as we allow all our sin and pride to be put to death. We humbly come to Jesus as our only hope. And in so doing, we identify with his death. As Jesus’ body enters the grave, we consider that all we are apart from God is now spiritually dead. It’s gone. Sin’s living days are over.
Does that mean we never sin once we become a Christian? Of course not! We do. And that’s why Paul says we need to put to death these things that are supposed to be dead within us anyway. Even though our pre-Christian-self died at salvation, it still tries to live on at times, and to pretend that nothing has really changed. Satan would have you believe that God didn’t really make you into a new creation. And so, sometimes we catch ourselves dabbling in things like sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed. Or, if you don’t find yourself in that list, consider the next: anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language from your lips, and lying. Now I think we’ve included everyone!
Look at verse 7: “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.” That stuff is past tense. That’s who you used to be, not who you are now. So put it to death! View your pre-Christian self as dead!
One of our VA Bible study attendees last week talked about how he finds himself tempted by old temptations, to be where he shouldn’t be, doing what he shouldn’t be doing. And he says, “That’s not me anymore.” He says Satan tries to tempt him with those things, but he is starting to realize that he’s dead to them. They mean nothing to him. They don’t carry the same appeal they used to.
Let me ask you a deep question: How much does a dead person sin? They don’t! Next time you’re tempted to sin, remember that dead people don’t sin! Consider yourself dead to those old ways. And then,
2. Draw on God’s resurrection power
Verse 1 starts off: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ...”
Something miraculous happened the moment you believed in Christ. In that moment, not only did he put to death your old self, he gave you resurrection power as you became a new creation. We’ve talked before about Jesus’ death bringing about your “justification.” Jesus paid for all your sin for all time. I memorized the meaning of the word “justification” by the phrase, “just as if you’ve never sinned.” That’s the state Jesus moved you to. But the other thing that happened is “identification.” You identified with Christ. You died to your old self, just as he died. And now you draw on God’s resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead. That same power helps you live into your new identity: a new creation in Christ.
Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to overcome a recurring temptation? You fail and fail again. You pray hard. You try to do the right thing. And then you give in once again, no matter how hard you’ve tried.