Put it to death.

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5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:5-9

Growing with Jesus requires our agency; that’s by design. We participate in the new creation of our character so that it reflects Jesus Christ as Lord more and more often. Always in response to the grace of Jesus we activate the virtues of faith, hope, and love in our spiritual growth. Our life is hidden with Christ; what we are is not yet fully seen. The old nature will cover up our life with Him and the reality of grace unless we respond. We have died; we have been buried with Him in baptism; we and we been raised with Him to new life.

A new morality by God’s grace is available to us. But it requires our participation. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” Putting the old nature to death is an act of faith, hope, and love. What is it going to take for you to break the habituated draw of the old nature of your life? How can we put it to death?

The old nature and its practices must be identified. Paul gives the Colossian Christians two lists so they can see what is inconsistent with the life of Christ. The lists are not exhaustive. But they do highlight two powerful and destructive types of habituated sin common to the old nature.

Sexuality immorality                      Anger
Impurity                                            Wrath
Passion                                               Malice
Evil desires                                        Slander
Covetousness- which is idolatry   Obscene talk

And then Paul identifies a third and related problem of the old nature: lying. Do not lie to one another. The old nature generates lies, especially in regard to the personal and social dynamics of sex, anger, and what we have said. Lying is a means of managing the guilt, shame, and fear. It has nothing to do with the spiritual dynamics required for putting the old nature to death.

Exhausting Lies

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19When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT)

 

The “old me” is hanging around. It seeks to rule me and is in conflict with the “new me” created by the Spirit of God. Paul gives us a short list evidencing the old nature, but he admits the list is not exhaustive.

However, it must be said, the old nature is exhausting! That’s the surprising and enslaving feature of the old nature. Sin wears us out. And all the while it keeps feeding us the lie that we are “really living” or will be really living when we follow the desires of our sinful nature.

This kind of life truly keeps us from inheriting and enjoying the freedom and joy of the Kingdom of God made ours through faith in Jesus. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Consuming Community

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14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 

How is your family (organizational) culture today?

Fussy? Filled with fights?

Does jealousy lurk just below the surface?

Do your structures promote pride and leverage selfish ambition?

Community that consumes is common.

 

Such dysfunction abounds when fear, shame, and guilt have their way among us.

 

In Christ Jesus we have been given another way.

 

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Galatian churches, is concerned. He knows what happens when we our old nature runs into the old nature of another person. Unchecked by the Spirit of God, the old natures rises up and shows its conceit, its ungodly joy at provocation, and its festering envy over another’s good fortune. This kind of community is the kind that devours people and spits them out. Its always looking for the top of the pile. Its a consuming community.

The community that consumes has nothing to do with the Spirit of God and the fruit that is borne of a community surrendered to Jesus. Spiritual leadership in Jesus’ name will yearn for and create the environments that seek maturity that displays Jesus’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Then we will catch glorious glimpses of The Communing Community of God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit.