Summary: We put away sin by fixing our thoughts on Christ.
Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians 3:11 as we continue our way through this letter.
The question we’ll address today is how do we make progress in godliness? Growing in godliness involves two things: putting away sin and putting on righteousness; not doing the things God forbids, and doing the things God commands. This morning’s passage deals with putting away sin, so that is going to be our focus. The passage after this one deals with putting on righteousness, and we’ll address that later. So today we are answering the question, how do we put away sin from our lives? Whether or not you came in this morning with that question on your mind, it is a question we need to answer, because the pursuit of godliness is not an option for a believer.
The apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 1:15-16 …as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." Because God is holy—sinless and set apart—he calls his people to reflect that. And that means turning away from sin, from all wrongdoing, from what Paul called at the end of chapter 2 the indulgence of the flesh.
But how do we stop the indulgence of the flesh? How do we stop the sin? Well, we know from last week what doesn’t work. What doesn’t work is the ‘just say no’ mentality. What doesn’t work is relying on regulations to control our behavior like “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch.” That has an appearance of wisdom according to verse 23, but is of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
All that does is lead to external morality but it does nothing to address the heart from which sin flows, like the Pharisees whom Jesus called white-washed tombs, beautiful on the outside but inside full of uncleanness.
So what is of value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh? What can really lead to holiness, to putting away sin?
Let’s read Colossians 3:1-11 to find out and then please pray with me as we ask God to open our hearts and minds to the truth of his word.
READ COLOSSIANS 3:1-11
Paul’s message in this passage could be summed up this way: Put away sin by fixing your thoughts on Christ. (2x)
What I hope to show from the text is that all disobedience to God—all sin—can only be successfully put away if it becomes an ugly thing to us, and Christ becomes our greatest satisfaction. And that is what happens when we fix our thoughts on Christ and on the heavenly, happy realities that belong to us in Christ.
We’re going to walk through this text by first reviewing our present condition as believers in Jesus Christ—what is true of us though it is invisible to us. Then we’ll see two commands that make total sense for us to follow given who we are in Christ, commands that lead to putting away sin and growing in holiness. So let’s start with our identity in Christ.
1. OUR PRESENT CONDITION IN CHRIST
Woven throughout this passage are multiple reminders of the miracle that God has done to you if you have trusted Christ as Savior. Your fundamental state of affairs has radically changed from when you were an unbeliever.
Verse 3 says. “You have died…”
This is a recap of the teaching we went through in Colossians 2:11. We learned there that the “you” who died is the unregenerate you, the person without the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, the person who was dead in trespasses and sins, unresponsive to God, unable to please God, and a slave to sin.
According to Colossians 2:11, that person was circumcised …in the circumcision of Christ, meaning the sin-enslaved person you were was cut away and died in Christ’s death on the cross. God condemned and killed that person for his sins when he condemned and killed his Son on the cross. In union with Christ through faith, God considers Christ’s death for sin to be our death for our sins. The old sin-enslaved self is dead.
That’s what verse 3 is talking about when it says “you have died.”
And the other side of it is verse 1, which says, “you have been raised with Christ.”
That is a recap of the teaching we went through in Colossians 2:13. We learned there that the new self is the regenerate you, the person with the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, the person who is living with the very life that flows from Christ, able to obey God rather than sin, responsive to God, able to please God, no longer a slave to sin.
According to Colossians 2:13, that person was made alive together with Christ. When God approved of and raised to life his Son, he also approved of and raised us to life as well. In union with Christ through faith, God considers us to share the perfect holiness of Christ, and gives us a share in his heavenly rewards.