Are you one who is clinging on to that favorite old shirt? You know the one that has been hanging in your closet for years? The one that doesn't even fit anymore? The one that has certain attachments and every time you see it, you reminisce about the good ole days? The one that you just can't get rid of...Maybe for you it's not a shirt, but some sort of knick knack (or dust collector :)), or whatever it might be...That thing that has no purpose in your life anymore, yet you just can't bring yourself to let it go...Yes, I can relate!
Colossians 3:5 starts with the words, "Put to death..." and verse 8 begins by saying, "Rid yourselves of..." These follow verses that describe those who "have been raised with Christ...", those who have made a heart commitment to live "hidden with Christ in God". These verses go hand in hand. Live in Christ; Die to earthly nature. "Put to death" or "Rid yourself of" as opposed to "set aside for another time - just in case". Take it outside and burn it, as opposed to tucking it in the back of your closet. Sometimes easier said than done?
Continuing on in this passage, we learn what to put to death. "...whatever belongs to your earthly nature...sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, (idolatry), anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lying..." These are the old shirts that hang in the closet. I can skim through the list (which is not inclusive) and focus on certain ones and profess I have rid myself of such ways. But, when I meditate carefully on this list, I become convicted. Read the list again; one by one; and ask God to help you identify what you still need to purge from your closet.
Oh brothers and sisters, there is much found in God's Word distinguishing between the two lives...The life that
indulges in our earthly nature vs clothes ourselves in the nature of Christ
leads to death vs leads to life
gratifies our sinful nature vs is embedded in God's grace, hope, peace
We have a choice.
I mentioned in last week's blog that as we look back at the moment we decided to follow Christ, some of us have a clear definitive transformation, while others experienced more of a gradual shift. Regardless, if we have chosen to follow Christ, to receive His grace, to experience His presence, it is clear that we must work at distinguishing between these two lives, putting to death and ridding ourselves of the old, other life. Colossians 3:7 says, "You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.." and verse 9 says, "...since you have taken off your old self with its practices, and have put on the new self that is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." WOW - THAT's POWERFUL! :) Read that again and soak in it a bit. It doesn't say to put on the new self and now we are perfect. It's a process. We are being renewed.
Ok - here's another Scripture I feel led to include for us. 1 Corinthians 10:21 says, "You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord's and the cup of demons. You cannot eat at the Lord's table and the table of demons." We must choose.
How does this look as we are in the world, yet are not to be like the world?
There is the struggle. This earthly, sinful nature that screams, "Try me back on...don't get rid of me - you might need me later...I'm still a part of you..." Sometimes it's deafening. "Just once more. You deserve it. Just one more click. Just one more lie. Just one more grudge to hold. Just send one more message. Just one more _________." Each and every one of us can fill in the blank. We all must resist sinful nature.
This reminds me of when our kids were little. They would ask us to play a game and so we would enjoy a game together. But, eventually it would come to an end and then came the heart-felt plea, "Can we play again...please...just one more?" So we give in and enjoy another game. It ends. The plea, "Oh please can we just play ONE MORE game - just ONE MORE?" Ok fine - we play again. Just as the plea was about to come again, we emphatically interject, "NO MORE ONE MORES!!"
You can also see this struggle with sinful nature in Romans 7:14-25 as Paul writes about his waging war. Read it and see if you can relate......Seriously, take some time to find it on your Bible app, or open up the Word and read these heart-felt verses.
Here's where the knowing about God vs knowing God comes in. As we make that commitment to follow Christ, we know about putting off our old self. We can identify sin and its nature. In fact, we are pretty good at pointing it out in other people. We know about God's forgiveness of sin. But here's the challenge...have we spent time with God and interacted with Him in a way that allows us to grow to know Him? Have we fallen in love with Him and recognize His voice in our lives? His strength in our lives? His voice is loving....convicting....forgiving. We know about love, conviction, repentance and forgiveness, but what do they feel like?
To choose to put off the old life and step into a new life in Christ is life-changing. But we don't have to do it alone. Paul follows the description of his sin struggle with Romans 8:1-17. Read these verses and be reminded of the power of the Spirit who lives in us to free us - who gives us LIFE!
Do we, as Christians, mess up? You better believe it. It's a daily struggle. A daily choice to wake up and proclaim, "NO MORE ONE MORES!" Some of us have secret closets or "junk drawers" or even whole rooms we keep locked up. It's time to clean them out.
By the power of the Spirit, with the help from the God we come to love and know and experience, we can reach into our closet and take the steps needed to remove the old! Jesus provides this way out. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." Own that verse. Believe it. When we feel ourselves approaching the plea of "Just One More", I pray we can take a breath, pause, and imagine Jesus with us, inviting us to take a walk with Him rather than give in. HE provides the way out as temptation dangles in front of our faces.
In Christ, we look different; we act different; we think different. In the eyes of the world, are we different? Do we blend in or stand out? Hypocrisy? Or, are we like it says in Philippians 2:13-16, " for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life..."
Today is the day. Trash day. I hear the truck coming. Bring your bags to the curb of Christ. Throw out the junk. Stand strong in this new life that your Abba Father has for you. Today is the day!
1. Spend time with God intentionally asking Him to reveal to you what junk you need to throw out.
2. Meditate on Romans 7:7-8:17; look up other passages about getting rid of sinful nature
3. Identify and name the junk
4. Do something concrete as an act of throwing it out
- write about it and then burn the paper
- get rid of something that may be the vessel of earthly, sinful nature
- confide in a close friend and confess, seek their prayers of support and accountability
5. Celebrate your freedom and new life in Christ!