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Killing Sin | Colossians 3:5-11

February 28, 2016 Preacher: Ryan Gilbert Series: Crown the King

Topic: Killing Sin, Holiness Scripture: Colossians 3:5–11

Thank you Will. Did you hear those words? “Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling. O Come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.” You may not be particularly hurting today, or maybe you don’t feel like you’ve come to the end of yourself. But we all have times when we do. Isn’t it good to know that His arms are open wide?

Today we’re continuing our series through Colossians, and I hope last week’s message was interesting enough for you. We talked about shadows, drinking, tattoos, bacon, the guy that lived on a fifty foot pillar for 36 years, and mainly how the Gospel + ANYthing = NOT Gospel.

Today we’ll be in Colossians chapter 3, and the first four verses of this chapter we haven’t actually covered yet, but I’m kind-of saving those for Easter Sunday. So we’ll read them, but then go on to focus on verses 5-11. So let’s read starting in verse 1.

  • If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Now this passage goes on talking about what we’re to put on. Because not only are we to take off the old self, but we’re also to put on our new self, representing of our new identity in Christ. So, next week, we’ll go on and look at verses 12-17. But for this week:

So today we’re going to look at killing sin. Putting it to death! This is how I’ve organized it for us: Why We Kill Sin, What Sin We Kill, and How We Kill Sin. For brevity: Why We Kill, What We Kill, and How We Kill.

 

Why We Kill

I love the language being used in verse 8, speaking of sin. It says, “But now you must put them all away.” The Greek word here is a word used for taking off clothes, like any of us do at the end of the day. So falling back into sin as people who’ve died with Christ and are new creations, is like putting on dirty clothes. We all know what that feels like, right? We all have run out of laundry at some point in our lives. Some of you maybe run out every week. You know what it feels like. You grab that underwear out of the hamper, you cringe a little bit, maybe turn it inside out, I don’t know what you guys do in your personal time, you don’t know what I do (I guess, besides that I don’t floss), but you put them on. It just feels wrong. Why? Because it is wrong! Fresh clothes in the morning feel right, because they are right.

We kill sin because sin is our past. Verse 7- “In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.” We kill sin, eradicate it from our lives, because it’s not who we are. We’re followers of Christ. We submit to his will as revealed in the Word because He is a loving ruler that has saved us from not only the penalty, but also the power of sin. We don’t want any part of what originally brought God’s wrath upon us! Verse 6- “On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” So we put off sin, and put on the new self. Verse 9- “we have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.” We’re becoming like Christ more and more and more, we’re becoming more and more and more of who we really are. Our unredeemed flesh is consistently reflecting more and more of the character or our redeemed spirits, and one day we will receive our fully redeemed and glorified bodies.

This truth that unites us. This truth that we, not only, are absolutely saved because of Christ’s sacrifice, but also the truth that we are constantly putting the off the old self more and more and putting on the new self. This is why Paul says what he says in verse 11- “11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” This is quite a remarkable thing to say. The Greek and the Jew had nothing to do with each other. Jews wouldn’t even go into the house of a Gentile, nor eat with them. Barbarian was a word used to describe those that couldn’t speak well. Scythians were people known for their savagery. The point here is that we kill sin because it’s not who we are, and who we are in Christ so strongly unifies us that absolutely no cultural, social, or especially racial differences can divide us. That’s all there is to it.

So why do we kill sin? Because it’s not who we are. In Christ, we are a new creation, we submit to our King and ruler and obey His Word. We kill sin because it’s even more wrong with our new identity than wearing dirty clothes. That’s the why. Now for the What.

 

What We Kill

I want to take us into these two lists of sins that we’re to be killing, but I also want us to keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of sins. That’s not the point. The point is that we kill all sin, period, but it is helpful to go into detail about what Paul is talking about here. If you look at verse 5, Paul starts with the act itself, sexual immorality. In the New Testament, immorality refers to any sexual activity outside the marriage bond between a man and a woman. That’s immorality. That’s the act. Now, impurity, the next word, is why immorality happens. Paul is working his way in this verse from the act to the motivation. This is a really neat thing. Immorality is the act, impurity is the thought or the intention.

The next two words are very similar. “Passion”, or you can translate that “lust”, and “evil desires.” These, again, have more to do with the motivation behind the act of immorality. Passion or lust is more of the actual thought, and evil desire is obviously the desire. So, again, sinful thoughts that we’re to kill come from sinful desires that we have. And the last word that Paul uses is covetousness, or some of your translations say greed. That may at first feel unrelated to the rest of this list, but it’s not at all. At the heart of the sinful act is a desire to have what we can’t have. Coveting, or wanting what others have, is the heart of a lot of our sin.

Williams Barclay puts it this way: “If it is the desire for money, it leads to theft. If it is the desire for prestige, it leads to evil ambition. If it is the desire for power, it leads to sadistic tyranny. If it is the desire for a person, it leads to sexual sin.” All of our desires for more and more and more, and for things that we can’t have, ultimately are idolatry, as Paul says at the end of verse 5. We are putting things before God. We are not content with the God of the universe being our King and Ruler. We want more, which is exactly why Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the Garden of Eve, literally the ONLY thing they were told they couldn’t have, they wanted. It’s human nature, the unquenchable desire for more or for things that we can’t have, and it’s a desire we can have no power over except in Christ. So how do we kill covetousness? How do we kill our desire for more? We kill it with contentment. That’s the antidote to covetousness.

The next list of What We Kill that Paul uses is in verse 8. The first list that Paul used was more personal, but this list has to do with sins we commit against each other. In the first list Paul started with the act and moved to the motivation; now Paul is starting with the motive and then moving to the act.

The first word is anger. Now the word that’s used here is not just anger in general. This anger refers to resentful bitterness. Now the next word, wrath (or for some or your Bibles, rage), this refers to sudden outbursts of anger. Maybe you’ve seen one of these road rage videos that have gone viral online. Some of them are unbelievable. But if we’re honest, I bet many of us in this room struggle with at least moments of rage. If you’ve ever had a day where literally everything that could go wrong went wrong, then you may have been on the edge of outburst. The smallest thing maybe set you off. Anger, wrath, malice, slander- None of these things are characteristic of born again Christians.

Honestly, this could be expected of those that don’t know Christ, that have no reason to believe that there is an actual purpose to pain. But for Christians, one passage to have in mind in particular is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Great passage to read later, and a passage that I’d summarize by saying that pain in the path of obedience has meaning. It has purpose. For believers, when we experience pain, even if we don’t know exactly the purpose behind the pain we’re experiencing, we know that God has a plan for it. We also know that God will one day make all things right. This is why, ultimately, Christians are free from resentment, and free from outbursts of anger.

Particularly with people, Christians have more reason to truly forgive than anyone on earth. To hold a grudge against a Christians would be to say that Jesus dying on the cross was enough for God to forgive them, but not for us. Get it? To hold a grudge against non-Christian would be to say that the potential wrath they will experience for eternity is enough to satisfy God, but not enough to satisfy God. Vengeance is God’s, not ours. Even if someone hasn’t asked for forgiveness, we forgive. The fuel we have to forgive no matter the circumstances is the truth that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

The next word used is malice. This is a more general idea, but it’s the idea of having in mind to do someone harm, probably harm with something you say, which brings us to the next word, slander. Anger, wrath, and malice lead to what? Slander. Slander is insulting someone’s character, likely under false pretenses. And then, lastly, straight up obscene talk, or abusive speech. This is different from slander, in that slander is usually meant to hurt someone’s reputation, obscene talk is meant to hurt the person themselves. This is absolutely forbidden in Scripture. We are not to be abusive when we speak with each other, ever. Why? We are to treat each other with dignity, as children of God. This is why I think he throws in verse 9, “Do not lie to one another.” We’re to treat each other with utmost dignity and respect and love, no matter the circumstance.

Now, I do want to step back for a moment. For those of you that might be new to the Bible or newer to church stuff, it might feel like God is so restrictive. He’s a God that likes giving rules for the sake of giving rules. But this just isn’t true. My son, right now, doesn’t get why I don’t want Him to touch a fire. I started a fire in our fire pit this last week, and Jacob couldn’t understand why I didn’t want him to touch it. But what do I know? I know that it’s not good for Him to touch the fire! This is part of the BEAUTY in authority. Authority is a wonderful thing. Jacob also never likes taking naps. He doesn’t know that he is so much happier on a general schedule which includes a nap. So he wimpers or whines every time we put him down for a nap. In the same way, the God of the universe knows what is best for His creation according to His ultimate purpose for the world. We’re to obey Him, even when at times we don’t understand why, because we trust that our loving Ruler knows best! Because He’s God! So that’s just a free rabbit trail, as we move on. We’ve seen Why We Kill, we’ve seen What We Kill, and now we’ll look at…

 

How we Kill

First, we seek things above. This actually goes back to verse 1, which we’ll focus on a bit more Easter Sunday, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” The first part of killing sin is being completely convinced that Christ is better. We seek things above, specifically, Him, because He’s better.

John Owen, an English Puritan from the 17th century, puts it this way: “On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy.” I love this picture. How do we kill sin? First, we seek Christ. We set our minds on Him. We think and dwell and meditate upon the truths of the Word, which includes all things above, but in particular, Christ. We can do that to the point that we grow unsatisfied by sin, even to the point where we’re disgusted at sin. Temptation can become laughable because we’re seeking Christ, and we’re setting our minds on Him.

There’s one verse we’ll be looking at next week that’s particularly relevant here. Colossians 3:16- “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” We set our minds on Him, we’re being renewed in knowledge after the image of our Creator.

Probably the biggest specific way that I know how to truly set your mind on Christ is through memorizing Scripture. It sounds so cold and rote, but it’s just not. Hiding God’s Word in your heart might be the most practical way we have as believers to not just fight against temptation, but also fight the battle for our minds! We saw earlier that the battle against sin is a battle for the mind. Evil behavior starts with evil thoughts. When our thoughts are consumed by God’s truth, this will drastically help us see that Jesus is better than sin. We’ll captivated by it. We must set our minds on Christ.

We get that from verses 1-2. But even with this battle for our minds, there is also a battle against sin, which is why Paul uses such strong language in eradicating sin. Verse 5- “Put to death” what is earthly. Some of your translations say “consider as dead”, but the literal translation is “put to death”, or “kill.” We are to have a definitive resolution to kill sin, and submit our flesh to the Holy Spirit that now lives in us as born again Christians. We’re to actively eliminate everything in our lives that’s contrary to godliness. We’re to KILL it. Sin is that serious of a danger to our lives in Christ that we must cut it off! In Matthew 5, in the sermon on the mount, Jesus says, “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

This idea out there in our culture that sin is just “not your best.” It’s you not reaching your potential. That’s just wrong. It’s way more than that. It’s you rebelling against God, your ruler, and also falling back into the very things that at one point in our lives were warranting us an eternity in hell separated from God. We need to stop playing with sin, and KILL IT! Be done with it forever. Guard yourselves way ahead of time. I was asked when I was being ordained, Ryan, we all hear of all these pastors who fail morally, like big-time. How are you guarding yourself against this? I think the first answer I gave, and I’m still so convinced of this, was, I must not assume that I am above moral failure. None of us, me especially, should assume we are above moral failure. Don’t even give sin a chance! At any possible level, guard yourself against it. I don’t care if you’ve never struggled with pornography in your life, you need to download an accountability program for your computer, phone, tablet, whatever. Get rid of the internet altogether if you need to. Cut it off.

So that’s the how. We seek the things above, we set our minds on things above, we let the Word richly dwell in our hearts and minds to the point where we don’t want sin. On another level, we absolutely kill it by starving it, not giving it a chance.

So we’ve answer Why We Kill, What We Kill, and How to Kill. I encourage you, maybe later today, to read these verses again, verses 1-11, and ask God to reveal any sin that you need to kill. And I pray that you do so. Because, to be completely honest, one of the elders said something last night that I have to bring up: When God is doing something, Satan doesn’t like that. More than ever before, I believe God is doing something here at Raintree. And more than ever before, I believe we must guard ourselves against temptation and sin altogether. We must starve it, and not even give it a change at a foothold in our lives. I’d like to share with you one part of what I believe God is doing here at Raintree, one part that we haven’t yet shared.

 

While I’m mainly addressing church members right now, for those of you who are guests, who might be covenanting with us as a church someday in the near future, this will help you get a taste of where we’re heading as a church with our finances.

I came to you a few times in the last few months about our financial situation at Raintree, and how, frankly, it doesn’t look great, particularly last Sunday night at our Family Meeting. I want to give you what I hope to become our plan for making our finances about reaching the world. I don’t know if I’ve been more excited about anything I’ve brought to you before. Let me walk you through this in your bulletin.

First step, get a hold of the budget and begin healthy, sustainable, financial habits. This means living within our means. We believe so strongly in not living outside of our means, that we’re willing to make incredibly hard decisions in order to do it.

  • The second step…
  • The third step…
  • The fourth step…

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Here’s the catch with all of these unbelievably exciting things that I believe God can do through our church. None of it will happen, none of it, if we never get past step one. Churches that live outside of their means, outside of what God has faithfully given them, and churches that confuse superstition with faith, are churches that will never be able to use their God-given finances to do kingdom-impacting work like long-term drastic commitments to missions partnerships, or long-term drastic commitments to impacting individuals and families in the community. It won’t happen. NONE of this will happen without this first step.

Over the last two months, in particular, we’ve considered every possible option we could imagine for definitively living within what God is blessing us with. For now, so you know, we are temporarily suspending any consideration on major decisions like these. We are delaying those decisions temporarily. But I’m asking you as your pastor to pray for the elders as God leads them. I’m asking you to be on board with hard decisions that may have to be made in order to get to step two. I’m asking you, if you so feel the Lord leading you to give more than you’re giving, to do so.

But for clarity-sake, you will not be guilted or pressured into giving money here, ever. The New Testament Church, they saw God doing amazing things and lives being changed by the Gospel, and what happened? The Holy Spirit led individuals to give sacrificially. Many did. But there was never a campaign that pressured people to give. We’re never going to come to you begging for money, because we believe that it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to lead people to give more, not ours.

 

I don’t want Raintree to be a club church, where all we do is we come, we see some friends, get a little tid-bit from the word, and then leave, only to come back again the next week and do the same-ole same-ole. I want Raintree to be a church that invests every bit of who we are into fulfilling the Great Commission, seeing lives changed by the Gospel, and then discipling and teaching those new born-again Christians everything about who God is and what He has commanded. We are focusing on the Great Commission in so many ways, but this could include drastic changes to our financial habits. That includes so planning and using God’s money that he can use it for the Kingdom. If we’re not doing that, what are we doing?! We have family members that don’t now Christ. We have friends, neighbors that don’t know Christ. We have co-workers that don’t know Christ. And it seems like the American church is just on Cruise Ship, coasting its way to heaven while the rest of the world desperately needs to hear the News that Jesus died and rose again bearing our sin, so that if we repent and believe, we are saved! Instead of grabbing hold of our budget to soon be able to leverage it to truly impact individuals and families here and around the world, we could just coast. Spend it all on ourselves and the club. I don’t want to do that. I hope you don’t want to do that.

My prayer for you and for me is to pray for the elders as we lead, as we seek God’s face, as we plead to Him to show us what is the best way for the church to ultimately reach its goal of obeying the Great Commission in every way we possibly can. That’s my prayer, and I invite for you to have that same prayer.

Let me pray for us.