2018-11-18 These Put Off

Cornerstone EPC                                                                               Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                           November 18, 2018

“These Put Off”
Colossians 3:5-11

Recall, from last week’s sermon, that God has raised us to life in Him Who drank of death to the full for our sakes, and now lives evermore—Jesus Christ.  Because of this, we seek and set our minds on things above—for we died, and our life is hidden with Christ, Who is our life.  This week and next, God willing, we look at some implications of these truths.  Today we see what to pull off our lives, and next week, God willing, we see what to put on them.  Let us hear, now, the portion of God’s Word appointed for us today.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Paul’s opening Spirit-led command, “Put ye to death…,” is a very good translation of Greek nekroo (nekrow).  Though some translators may prefer a more figurative translation, such as stop completely, I think the ESV’s translation better.[1]  The Puritans had a wonderful word for this concept, namely, mortify.  Dr. William Harris, the author of the Colossians portion of The Matthew Henry Commentary, tells us truly that if we do not kill sin, it will kill us.[2]  Putting sin to death is part of our sanctification.  It is a key ingredient of our growth in God’s grace, and it is but the outworking of what God work in our lives—considered both at the Cross and at the hour we first believed.  We are to put to death, therefore, whatever is earthly in us.

Let’s note a couple of general considerations about these earthly things.  We once, prior to meeting Christ, walked in them—or, at least, we walked in some of them.  Because of these earthly things (specific examples to be listed later) God’s wrath is coming.[3]  God, being perfectly holy, cannot abide sin.  He has perfectly holy and righteous anger toward it.  His anger over a believer’s sin is poured out on Him Who became sin for us—Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21)—and there remains no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  For those not in Him, the threat of wrath remains—and for those dying outside of Christ, the sentence of eternal wrath is assured.  Hence, while opportunity remains, trust in Christ and receive Him by faith as Savior and Lord.

Now let’s note Scripture’s delineation of these earthly things.  These earthly things fall conveniently under three heads.[4]  First, we note the lusts of the flesh.  Here we see things such as fornication (Greek porneia [porneia]), immorality (or filth), passions (strong, near overwhelming, desire for acts forbidden of God), and evil lusts.  Our culture fuels these sins with fuel more volatile than gasoline, but we may avoid these—in God’s gracious power—if we recall the oft-quoted dictum here: “God enjoins sexual activity only between a man and a woman married to each other.”

Second, we note the love of the world—covetousness (literally greed: Greek pleonexia [pleonexia]), which is idolatry.  The Apostle John, led by the Spirit, tells us to love not the world, nor things of the world—for such things as the pride of life, the boasting of what one has and does, comes not from the Father, but from the world (cf. 1 John 2:15, 16).  Let us not love wealth—and what wealth does for us—like we love God.  If this happens, we show ourselves worshippers of wealth, rather than of God.  If this happens, we show ourselves idolaters.  Let us throw off love of the world—let us throw off greedy covetousness—in favor of love of Him Who gives every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

Third, we note the inordinate passions.  There is quite a list here, including anger, fury, hateful feeling, reviling, dirty talk, and, interestingly enough, lying.  We want our speech and our other reactions to circumstance both to honor God and to bless others.  When we speak untruthfully, with hate, or with uncalled-for vituperation, we fail to honor God—and likely we don’t bless anybody around us.  Like the others, these are difficult, if not impossible, to curb in our own power.  May the Lord empower us to flee these—as we would flee the others as well.

We conclude this morning’s passage by noting that God mortifies our flesh, and we exert ourselves thereunto, because we put off (lit. undressing) the old man or woman and we put on (lit. be clothed) the new man or woman.  We take those old things, belonging to the old nature, off ourselves as God removes them, and we put on the new things that God puts on our shoulders as a mantle.  After all, the new man or woman is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.  Hence, we more resemble Him Who made us—our triune God.  Hence, there are no divisions or demarcations within the people of God in Christ, for all are one in Christ, Who is all and is in all—and, as we sing around here, Who is our all in all.

This passage, viewed improperly, looks like a mere bunch of rules—and some of them unwelcome at that.  Yet this passage, viewed properly, shows us what God is like by showing us what He abhors.  It also shows us what the new man looks like by showing us the things absent from the new man.  The text also shows us, in part, what a life pleasing to God and of blessing to ourselves looks like.  Remember, we cannot comply with God’s directives here in our own strength.  We require the aid of the Holy Spirit, and we require the use of His appointed fortifications (Scripture, prayer, etc.).  Let us, by God’s grace, increasingly put off the old man.  We’ll see more about putting on the new man, God willing, next week.  AMEN.

[1] For the suggested figurative translation here noted, see Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).

 

[2] Matthew Henry completed his commentary on the whole Bible through Acts.  The commentary from Romans to Revelation was completely by thirteen non-conformist (i.e., non-Anglican) ministers just after Rev. Henry’s Home-going.

 

[3] Some Greek manuscripts add upon the sons of disobedience or upon the sons of those rejecting belief.  The King James Version follows these Greek manuscripts, whereas the English Standard Version does not.

 

[4] For these heads I am, once again, indebted to Dr. Harris in The Matthew Henry Commentary.

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