Sermon – November 27, 2016
Paul has emphasized the Christian’s union to Christ, both throughout the second chapter of Colossians and, especially, in 3:1-4. It is from this union that Paul turns fully to imploring the Colossians in holiness. It is this union that makes such holiness both necessary and possible. Therefore, before speaking about what we are to do, Paul speaks of what we must never do. We must kill:
1. The sin of licentiousness.
We must make sure, in emphasizing the graciousness of our Lord Jesus Christ in saving us, we do not underemphasize the necessity of holiness in our lives. But we must do it in the right way: we do not pursue holiness to merit Christ’s sacrifice, but rather we pursue holiness precisely because of that sacrifice.
2. The sin of idolatry.
The weed of sin sinks deep; if we are to kill it, we must pull it up by the roots, not simply treat the effects of its poison. The sexual perversion that runs rampant today is not unusual, nor particularly progressive; it is as old as sin itself. We cannot pluck out this sin simply by avoiding illicit behaviors (see Matthew 5:27-30), but rather by fixing misplaced affections. This is true for all senses of idolatry, whether in sex, food, entertainment, or family.
3. The sin of pride.
We turn, in what may seem an odd move, to language. Why is speech so important? Why is bad speech emphasized so much throughout the Bible? As we are made in God’s image, so we model it, and in our speech we have the power to create realities that either deny or affirm the true reality which God has made.
4. The sin of self-exultation.
In all of this, there is no room for self-exultation, for thinking anything inherent in you makes you better than those who are not like you. Where Paul began in 3:1-4 he now ends – no one can be better because “Christ is all – and in all.” It is Christ’s new creation that empowers your holiness, so walk humbly.
Do not grow tired in your pursuit of holiness, Christian. You must hunt out and destroy sin. Like the Israelites taking the promised land, you are to put all sin to death, devote all of it to destruction (Deuteronomy 7:1-5). Any remnant left will lead you away from Christ, allowing sin to grow ultimately into your own death (James 1:14-15). Put sin to death!