Summary: God describes sin with words like disobedience, lawlessness, iniquity, wickedness, trespass, transgression, and rebellion. The truth about sin is not only repulsive, but it is also personal. Sin is not other people’s problem. It is ours.
Lesson: VB1 - Put To Death Your Members Here On The Earth (Col. 3:5-7)
Scripture: Colossians 3:5-7 (NIV)
(5) Put to death You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived, 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.
In his book God’s Words, J.I. Packer writes, “Our first need in life is to learn about sin . . . . If you have not learned about sin, you cannot understand yourself or your fellow men, or the world you live in, or the Christian faith. And you will not be able to make head or tail of the Bible.” He is right. Understanding sin is crucial in starting the Christian life and in continuing the Christian life.
God describes sin with words like disobedience, lawlessness, iniquity, wickedness, trespass, transgression, and rebellion. The truth about sin is not only repulsive, but it is also personal. Sin is not other people’s problem. It is ours. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). The problem is that people typically use their bodies to serve sin (Rom 6:19). We think, “It’s my body, and I’ll do as I want to.” It is an earthly man-centered mindset, rather than an eternal, God-centered one. So, let’s see what the Apostle Paul has to say about sin in the three verses of this passage.
(3:5) Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
In this verse, Paul points out certain sins which were prevalent in the heathendom, and which the Colossians had practiced during their sinful days; but now, since they are made alive in Christ, these sins must be abandoned entirely.
The first phrase in this verse is “put to death” [This refers to a constant effort to slay the remaining sin in our flesh. (See Zech. 4:6; Eph. 5:18, 6:17; 1 John 2:14).].What Paul is saying is, “Put to death every part of yourself which is against God and keeps you from fulfilling His will.” Let’s put this in more modern language, as C. F. D. Moule expresses it. The Christian must kill self-centeredness and regard as dead all private desires and ambitions. There must be in his life a radical transformation of his will. Everything which would keep him from fully obeying God and fully surrendering to Christ must be surgically excised.
Then the word “therefore” follows, which points back to verses 1 through 4. In other words, Paul is saying, “Because you are raised with Christ, because you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God, and because, when Christ who is our God does appear then shall ye also appear with Him in glory,” all former sinful practices must be abandoned.
It stands to reason that if you have died with Christ . . . if the heart [the seat of life] is dead, all the members once kept alive by the heart and moved in lustful living should die also. They should die, killed by a lack of nourishment and exercise. Born again ones must not exercise these members in former practices of life. They must be rendered useless and paralyzed by refusing to feed and exercise them.
Paul would not be a popular minister today, because he believed in naming sin; and in this verse, he names several forms of sensuality: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry [also called covetousness]. You will find practically the same words in Ephesians 5:3, 2 Corinthians 12:21, and Galatians 5:19.
Notice that the Apostle lists a group of five sensual vices, ending the list, oddly enough is “covetousness,” which he defines as “idolatry.” It can be called idolatry because the self-seeker makes riches his god [also prestige, power or fame], and this is just as much idolatry as bowing down before sticks and stones. The Greek word here means “ruthless and aggressive self-seeking,” literally the passion to “have more.” If Paul puts the sins of the flesh in the forefront as he does here, we must always remember that he was addressing people who had come straight out of a life where sins of the flesh were rampant. Such sins, he adds (3:6) incur God’s wrath [His constant invariable reaction against sin.]. See Romans 1:18-32, where Paul describes, very powerfully, the divine retribution which has come upon the pagan world for its sins. Nowadays many people take offense at the very suggestion that God shows wrath. Yet it is basic to Paul’s theology, and, in fact, to any theology which conceives of God as holy love. It represents a holy God’s inevitable reaction to evil in every shape and form. It is not, as anger so often is with us, the emotional reaction of an irritated self-concern. We conceive it best if we imagine the horror a good man feels in the presence of stark evil and then multiply by infinity.