by Mike Ratliff
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6 ESV)
It is one thing to compare the Biblical teaching of our Sanctification with the man-oriented false teaching that is prevalent seemingly everywhere, but then easily overlook the fact that so many believers are desperate to know how to obey the command in the passage I placed at the top of this post (Colossians 3:5-6) to put to death the sin in them. Christian living is frustrating for the truly regenerate when they forget that we are actually commanded in Sacred Scripture to “be what we already are.” That takes us aback because we do not “feel” Holy or Christlike. Why? Our repeated sins lead us to believe that are anything but. Then we hear false teachers like Rick Warren and his followers tell us that what we need is his program of behavior modification to fix us right up. When I was a youth, the big thing was “let go and let God.” Well, that didn’t work either. Both trying hard to not sin through some program and simply “letting go” to have God take over leads to the inevitable breeding of discouragement, apathy, and the lowering of God’s standards.
Moralism or working harder through some sort of legalistic methodology to not sin is simply works of the flesh and that means those doing that are attempting to fight the sinful flesh with works of the flesh. That is a recipe for disaster my brethren.
On the other hand, it must be understood that we can actually obey this command to put sin to death within us because we actually are in Christ and are in some sense Holy. We are not yet perfectly holy in practice and it would be foolish to believe that God ignores our thoughts and deeds. Sin’s presence remains until we are glorified, and we need to repent of our sins daily (1 John 1:8-10). The passage I placed at the top of this post and others like it exist because disobedience is a reality for us. However, the Word of God defines Christians as already holy, “sanctified…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). In our Lord Jesus Christ, we have made a decisive break with unholiness. Our Creator declares us holy in His Son – we are saints of God Most High, and He sees us as pure through Jesus’ blood (Colossians 1:2; Hebrews 9:13-14).
From God’s Word we do not read, “You are not yet holy, work on it until you get there.” No, instead we read, “You are holy, be what you already are in Christ.” From this God grows within us confidence, passion, and a true understanding of sin (Romans 12:2). When we finally grasp that God sees us as holy in His Son, we are encouraged to make real, though often slow, spiritual progress. It is by His grace that God has declared us holy. Therefore, we cannot fail utterly to make what we do line up with who He says we are. When we come to this full realization aren’t we also eager to fulfill our duty to mortify sin? Also, don’t we view sin in a completely different light? I have witnessed in some past discussions with certain well known bloggers who should know better as they become very agitated and use the word “Pharisee” and “prude” and “judgmental” when referring to one of us who is simply reacting to sin the same way that our Lord would have us do. Sin is so horrendous and powerful that the only we could ever be pure was for God to intervene and do the work needed to declare us holy. We underestimate sin at our own peril.
Soli Deo Gloria!