From Pauses for Pentecost
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your Earthly nature:
sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
As Easter people we become newly created human beings. Wonderfully, as God places us in the divine birth column, we are given a new identity. We are now people who have been raised with Christ. Today’s word reminds us what this means for us. Not only does it mean that we must think differently but we are also challenged to live differently. Living in God’s new world involves setting our minds on those things above, as we saw yesterday, and then working out what this practically means in our everyday behavior.
In the verse above, Paul’s language becomes startlingly stern. He tells us to put to death ways of behaving and desiring and speaking that sabotage our new identity. This is something that we must do. God will not do it for us. We must ensure that those things holding us back from living our new lives in Christ are put to death. Paul’s specific list of what we need to kill off includes sexual misbehavior, selfishness, idolizing money, destructive patterns of speech, telling lies, and so on. (See Colossians 3:1-17.)
How do we go about doing this? As a learner in these matters, I begin by reminding myself of my new identity. I am someone loved, forgiven, and accepted by God. I have been raised with Christ. With Paul’s list as a guide, I ask the Spirit to reveal what in me needs to die for me to experience my risen life. Whatever it may be – lying, pride, or greediness – I also find it helpful to trace the history of this particular sinful pattern in my life over the years. How has it affected the lives of those around me? How has it blocked my own growth in faith? Asking for the help of God’s grace, I resolve to let go of it and to replace it with a more faithful expression of my new identity. Often this will involve putting into practice a helpful and relevant spiritual discipline.
Perhaps you are thinking that this sounds like too much hard work. Not at all when we consider what is at stake here. Learning to die to our old selves is a lifelong journey that leads us toward putting on new selves that reflect the image of Christ. What could be better?
Take time to read slowly through the list of those things that Paul wants you to put to death. You will find it in Colossians 3:1-17. What do you need to deal with? Speak with God about it today.