Scripture: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5 ESV
Observation: Having cautioned the Colossians about pursuing asceticism and worldly philosophies that are of “no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (2:23), Paul urges this young church to set their sights on the ascended Christ and matters of eternal import (3:1-2). He then reminds the church in Colossae that being one with Christ, they have died to their past, self-indulgent ways and will one day join their Savior in his resurrected glory (3:3). Thus, Paul exhorts the Colossians here and now to “put to death” their self-centered pursuits, all of which are forms of idolatry (above verse).
Takeaway: Paul rightly describes the transition from self-indulgent behavior to other-centered living as a dying process. There is no hanging on to any aspect of our lives that competes for our affections toward Christ. Thus, we need the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins, the community of believers to support, encourage and hold us accountable, and Scripture to transform our thought processes so that they align with the will of God. Our part? Relocate and replace: do life in places and spaces conducive to fostering godly habits and, in those safe environments, replace our sinful, self-destructive habits with new routines that nurture our souls. Worship, creative outlets, fellowship with believers, and acts of service are healthy and reliable replacements. And we need to exercise patience. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
So what causes most of us to hesitate or give up? Fear of failure and pain. Both are a reality. We will relapse from time to time, but Christ’s grace is sufficient. And we will experience some emotional pain in letting go of our pleasure-seeking, pain-avoidant coping mechanisms. But the freedom we gain from dying to our self-destructive passions and rising to a new, other-centered life in Christ is beyond worldly comparison. The rewards, eternal joy and love, are immeasurable.
Prayer: Father God, through the power of your Holy Spirit, your Word, and the support of fellow believers, would you please help us to put to death the idolatrous vices that bend us over and rise to new life on holy ground where we experience your joy and love? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling