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How Do You Put a Bad Habit to Death?

Colossians 3:1-15
Pastor JB

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Hi GAMErs,

Today's passage is Colossians 3:1-11.  Let's go!

Colossians 3:5-8 (NIV)
5 Put to death, 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.
8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

On verses 1-10:  Yesterday we learned from Colossians 2:16-23 that our focus needs to be on Jesus, not on our own effort.  If that's the case, should we still bother trying to become more holy, or trying to have a GAME time, or trying to go to church or small group? Yes, absolutely.  Paul is not saying "don't work at all on your relationship with God" or "don't try to grow spiritually". He's saying spend your effort and time on what really matters, which is becoming more like Christ.

So instead of focusing so much on things like dietary regulations or angel worship, things which God did not require Christians to follow, Paul encourages the Colossian church to focus on living, thinking, feeling and acting more like Christ.  As part of this, Paul tells the church to "put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature" (v5).  Then he lists a number of sins, including:

- sexual immorality (which is having sex outside of marriage)
- impurity
- lust
- evil desires
- greed (which Paul equates with idolatry) (v5)
- anger
- rage
- malice
- slander
- filthy language (v8)
- lying (v9)

Paul says that the wrath of God is coming because of such sins (v6), a reminder that God looks at sin seriously.

Do you struggle with any of these sins listed above?  How do you put to death things like sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed (v5), anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language (v8), and lying (v9)?  If you struggle with any of these sins, listen up.  From today's passage we learn 3 ways we can put to death these sins that we struggle with:

1.  Remember your new identity in Christ.

If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, God has given you a new identity.  Your old life is dead and your new life is found in Christ.  You are now "raised with Christ" (v1).  Just as Paul says in verse 3: "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."  Christ is now your life, and when He returns, you will appear with Him in glory (v4).  That's your new identity.  You are a brand new person in Christ, not a sinner but a saint. 

So if you find that as a brand new person in Christ you're still sinning in old ways, one reason could be a case of mistaken identity; you've forgotten who you really are!  You're like Lazarus at that moment when Jesus raised him from the dead (John 11): he's still wearing his old grave clothes and unsure if he's dead or alive.  Like Lazarus, you need to take those grave clothes off and realize that you're not dead anymore!  You have a new life in Christ.  As Paul says in verse 9b-10, "you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator". 

As a brand new person in Christ, you don't need to go back to your old way of living.  You have a new identity now.

2. Decide that you will not live in sin anymore.

Notice Paul does not say, "Let sin die".  Instead he says, "put it to death".  In other words, be intentional and decide that you will no longer let sin control your life.  As Paul says in verses 7-8, "You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things." 

Is there a sinful habit you need to be intentional about removing from your life?  For as long as you entertain the idea of keeping it, you're allowing sin to still have a practical influence on your life.  Decide that you will not live that way anymore.

3. Set your heart and mind on things above.

Notice Paul says in verse 1 "set your heart on things above".  Then he says in verse 2, "set your mind on things above, not on earthly things."  Why?  It's because putting to death your old way of living is not just about removing the sinful habits that used to destroy your life.  It's also about setting your heart (v1) and mind (v2) on things above. 

In Philippians 4, Paul puts it this way: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things...And the God of peace will be with you".  

In other words, setting your heart and mind on things above means filling your heart and mind with things that are beneficial, uplifting and pleasing to God -- whether it's the music you listen to, the entertainment you watch, the books you read, or the people you allow to influence your life. 

One of the best ways you can set your heart and mind on things above is to read God's Word every day, pray, and worship with your church family.  When you set your heart and mind on things above things above, sin has no more room to creep back into your life.  You're keeping your old life where it belongs: in the grave.

Colossians 3:11 (NIV)
11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 

On verse 11:  As Christians may our focus not be on how different we are in background compared to the other people in our church.  Rather, let our focus always be on Jesus ("Christ is all") and how He lives in all of us ("Christ is in all").  It's all about Jesus.

Jesus, thank You that You are making me into Your image. Help me to do my part in this process. Help me to put to death the sin of [identify a sin from verses 5, 8-9 that you've been struggling with lately].  Thank You that You died to forgive me of this sin and You rose again so that I could have victory over sin.  May I remember that I have a new identity in You.  Sin no longer has any hold over me.  And today I set my heart and mind on things above. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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