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Friday, April 8, 2011

The New You (part 4)

Part 4

Text: Colossians 3:1-11

We left off last time with Paul and Phineas and sexual immorality. Did you know that Paul talks about sexual sin more than any other sin? Why do you think that is? It is because sexual sin is different than any other sin. In 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 he says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

In our modern world, we emphasize “safe sex,” but there is no prophylactic for the soul. It's an old saying, but a painfully true one...Sexual sin will take you further than you want to go, stay longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.

We have been duped into thinking that sexual expression is just something we do, but it's not. It reflects who we are. Sexual sin destroys people. And Satan knows that he can trip up almost anyone by using sex. Look at the stories of David, Samson and Solomon. There were some of the greatest servants of God, and their lives were thrown off-course by their actions and the consequences of those actions.

Paul lists the sins that we’re to put to death.

Sexual immorality, a general term that refers to any form of illicit sexual behavior.

Impurity is marked by a mind that is filled with sensually suggestive thoughts and one that can read sex into even the most wholesome of situations.

Lust seeks quick fulfillment and always wants more. Love takes work and deepens over time. Lust focuses only on the senses, but love uses the senses to cherish the other and to nourish the soul.

Evil desires: When our physical desires become evil, and are motivated by the sinful nature and executed for evil ends. And, since desires lead to deeds, we must purify our minds and hearts.

Greed is idolatry. This is the sin of always wanting more. In this context, it is applied to the greed for satisfying evil desires and for sexual immorality. The person who is never satisfied with what he has is usually envious of what others have. This leads to idolatry, when things and people end up taking the place of God.

In verse 6, Paul states that because of these things, the wrath of God is coming. We bring the judgment of God on ourselves according to the principle found in Galatians 6:7, “A man sows what he reaps” and what we see in Romans 1:24 where we read that “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…”

But there is balance. God’s wrath is balanced within His holiness by mercy, compassion and love. He is repulsed by sin and yet is committed to us in love. Jesus will give you grace but He also tells the truth about your sin because He is the perfect embodiment of both grace and truth. Just as He told the woman caught in adultery to “go now and leave your life of sin,” so too, He calls us to look out and stop what we’re doing so that we may follow Him completely.

Verse 7 reminds us that this kind of behavior belongs to our old life and should not be part of our present pattern of living: “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.” We need to put the past behind us and refuse to resort to a lifestyle that no longer reflects our true identity.

In verses 8 and 9, we’re told to rid ourselves of social sins. These are the sins we like to think of as the “little ones,”  the ones that don't really hurt anybody. And we try really hard to justify them, overlook them, pass them by.

Paul doesn’t. And, just in case you thought you cruised safely through the first list, hang onto something, because Paul doesn't let up.

He moves to an image of taking off old smelly clothes. Before we can put on the new, we must first take off the old. The verb “rid” calls for immediate, decisive resolution. Before the new garments of righteousness can be put on, the old rags of sin must be discarded. What is he referring to?

Anger, a continuous attitude of hatred that remains bottled up within.

Rage is what comes bursting out, often uncontrollably.

Malice, an attitude of ill will towards a person. It’s often a hidden hatred of the heart that takes revenge in secret.

Slander. When we destroy another person’s good reputation by lies, gossip and the spreading of rumors. We try to hide behind the excuse that what we are saying is true. And while it may be true, a much more important question is, "Is it helpful?"

Filthy language, crude talk or abrasive words filled with swearing and sexual innuendo.

Lying to one another disrupts unity by destroying trust. It tears down relationships and can lead to serious conflicts.

These behaviors have no place in our lives or in our churches. They are part of the old life we are to have left behind. We must decisively “rid” ourselves of the repulsive sins of sex and speech so that we can “put on” the attitudes and actions of Christ.

If we’re really serious about breaking free from the past, we must also look in. We do this by recognizing the truth about what has happened to us at the time of our conversion.

[ conclusion tomorrow...]

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