Put On the New Self

by Mike Ratliff

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB) 

The enemy of our souls has from the beginning worked against all believers’ knowing and understanding the veracity of their eternal standing before God. God says that those who believe Him and obey Him, denying themselves in the process, have indescribable blessings awaiting them in eternity. Satan’s lie to us has never really changed. His goal is to distract us from the eternal promise then manipulate our flesh to demand that we focus on our own desires and needs in light of the temporal. Sadly, there is a growing movement that calls itself ‘Christian,’ but it’s message is focused on the here and now, not eternity. It is the Word Faith movement. For example, think of Benny Hinn and Todd Bentley who make incredible claims about their ability to heal with ‘signs and wonders.’  Related to it are preachers such as Joel Osteen who preach a message of prosperity and salvation by professing Christ in order to receive temporal blessings. 

The focus of these ‘ministries’ is to somehow manipulate God into intervening into the lives of people in the temporal with healing or some other form of physical blessing. While I see nothing wrong with praying for healing or for help amidst our circumstances, we do not manipulate God by following certain formulas that force God to respond. He is sovereign and His own Word, the Bible, does not teach what these people teach. Let us look at God’s model for His people.

1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, Colossians 3:1-6 (NASB) 

Who has been raised up with Christ and what does that mean?

3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, Romans 6:3-12 (NASB) 

If we compare Colossians 3:1-6 with Romans 6:3-12 don’t we see that genuine Christians are changed and called to put to death the deeds of the flesh, which is sin? While many will decry this call to personal holiness as self-righteousness while adhering to man-made standards of conduct, it is clear from these passages and others throughout the Bible that God’s standard for His people is to grow in Christlikeness and personal holiness by working with the Holy Spirit in putting to death, or mortifying, the sins their flesh clings to. On that list is greed, which amounts to idolatry. The Greek noun translated as greed, here is πλεονεξίαν (pleonexian) the accusative, singular, feminine case of πλεονεξία (pleonexia). This is a compound word made up of words that mean “more” and “to have.” In other words, this word describes the desire for having more or for what one does not have. This is not the same word in Greek that is translated as “avarice,” which is φιλαργυρία (philargyria) it is a larger term. It is connected with extortioners and with thefts (Mark 7:22) It is connected with sins of the flesh (Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5). This word may be said to be the root from which these sins grow. It describes the longing of the creature which has forsaken God to fill itself with the lower objects of nature.

Therefore, we must understand that we are being called by God to “put to death therefore what is earthly” in us. Why? These earthly things are the very sins that are the reason the wrath of God is coming. How do we kill these things? “ Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” We looked at the word “sin” in my post Abiding in Christ with Cheerful Endurance back in 2008.This word translated as sin is ἁμαρτία (hamartia) It means, “to miss the true goal and scope of life. It describes our offense in relation to God with emphasis on the resulting guilt.” The Greek verb translated as “let reign” here is βασιλευέτω (basileuetō) the present tense, imperative mood, active voice of βασιλεύω (basileuō). It literally means “to be King, to rule.” I used to have the concept of sin “reigning” in me as me sort of coexisting with it, however, that is not a true picture of what Paul is telling us in Romans 6:12. No, either it rules us or Christ does. When sin is king over us then we are in idolatry and that always blinds us spiritually. Also, this verb is in the present tense which is talking about continuous action or a way of life and since this is an imperative then Paul is giving us a command to stop doing letting sin reign in us.

How do we kill these sins?

1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2 (NASB) 

The things that are on earth all exist in this world in which we now live. However, the redeemed are resident aliens here. Therefore, we are called to seek the things that are above, where Christ is instead of seeking to be rich or whatever here in a temporal sense. Jesus said it like this:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB) 

Do you see that our Lord does want us to seek to have treasure in eternity? I really have no idea what that treasure consists of, but I do know that it will be far above anything we can posses here in the temporal. How do we lay up this treasure? We do this by putting on the new self by being conformed unto the image of Christ. Then as we run the race set before us with our eyes firmly fixed on Christ, we mature and grow in Christlikeness even more. Yes there will be rewards in Heaven and I do want to please my Lord above all. I lay up treasure there by denying myself here thereby killing the sinful desires of my flesh. Jesus is reigning in me instead of the sins my flesh desires. Does this make sense?

How do we set our minds on the things above instead of what our flesh wants? We must spend time in prayer, communing with our God. We must spend time in worship and Bible Study. We must obey Him in our circumstances by denying ourselves and responding to them in joy and forgiveness and love. Yes, we still contend for the faith, but with the goal of reconciliation between those outside of the truth with God as He changes them. Do you see that we cannot do this passively. We must do the following:

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:15-21 (NASB) 

We must understand what the will of the Lord is then do it. That means that we become filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Yes, that’s right. This is how we kill the fleshly desires in our hearts. The more we do this, the more content we become because we are becoming more and more Christlike. Then we can echo what Paul told the Philippians.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:4-13 (NASB) 

Instead of focusing on the evil in the world and our fleshly desires we are to think about what is true, what is honorable, what is just, what is pure, what is lovely, what is commendable, what is excellence, and what is worthy of praise. We cannot do this if all we do with our free time is fill our minds with the filth of most movies and what is on TV and what takes up most of the Internet. If we do this, if we follow Paul’s example then God will work a miracle in our hearts and we will one day encounter a circumstance that used to cause us to respond in the flesh, but we will have the strength and resolve to simply thank God and then respond as Christ would which is rooted in godly contentment. This is an attribute of God that He is developing in those whose eyes are on the things above and not on the things below. This describes a level of fulfillment that is available only to Christians who do this. The enemy of our souls is trying to get all of us to not believe this. Instead, he is working full time to get us to try to be fulfilled in the things of this world, the very things our flesh desires. That is a lie for nothing in this world can bring true fulfillment or contentment. We can only be content and fulfilled in Christ as Paul was.

Soli Deo Gloria!