“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now 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, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:1-5
Paul begins by talking about two kinds of minds. You can have a mind set on earthly things or you can have a mind set on things above. When Paul talks about the mind he’s not talking about your intelligence or just your thoughts. He’s talking about your whole inner life. You have a constant stream of feelings, and perceptions, and understandings, and thoughts, and intentions, and desires; and that stream is going on inside of you all the time. That stream of thoughts determines eventually what you do and what you say.
Much of the time we’re hardly even aware of the feelings and thoughts and desires that are going on inside of us, but they’re always there. And to Paul, they’re vital. And Paul says very clearly that there are certain things we should NOT expose our minds to. Paul says, “Don’t let these things enter your mind.” He literally says, “Put them to death.”
By earthly, he means that which is opposed to Christ – not just what’s physical and material – what’s opposed to Christ. Paul says eliminate it, die to it.
And the decision you need to make today, and this will not be easy, but you need to consider ourselves dead to these things.
In Romans 6:11, Paul says: “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
This is a new way to think about life. If you have a car battery and the battery is dead, what happens to the car when you try to start it? I don’t know much about cars, but my best guess on this one is, the car doesn’t respond. The battery is dead. Dead means you’re just not as responsive as you used to be. That’s part of what dead means. It means you are not responsive. That’s a pretty safe statement.
Paul is saying, “I want you to begin to count yourself, think of yourself, as being dead to sin; that is, you’re simply not going to respond to it. You’re going to be as one who is dead.”
Have you made that decision?
Paul lists sexual sins he want us to die to. He talks about “sexual immorality” – or fornication. Then he says, “impurity.” This involves a character that’s damaged by immoral behavior – impure habits, impure patterns, involvement in things like pornography would be included here.
Then he says, “lust,” or it could be translated “passion.” This doesn’t mean simply finding someone attractive. That’s part of being a human being. That’s a good thing. God created us to respond to beauty. This is choosing. There’s an element of choice here. It’s choosing to indulge in lustful fantasies, to reduce another person to a sexual object.
Then Paul says, “evil desire.” That’s where I’m open to lust. That’s kind of the precondition to it. I look forward to it, I’m available for it, I haven’t closed the door to it.
Then he talks about greed, and here it means simply unchecked hunger for physical pleasure – sexual, material or otherwise.
If you wrestle with pornography or lust, but you’ve struggled in secret, maybe today is the day for you to die to it. Maybe you’ve never really done what you know you need to do, which is to get help for it. So I’m asking today – will you die to it? Will you say, “I will make a call. I will tell a friend. I’ll get help from a counselor. I’ll join a group. I’ll do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to put it to death. I’m through playing games with this.”
Please take a moment and look through the resources listed here. I hope they provide the help you need.
Matt VanCleave, Teaching Pastor, Blue Oaks Church