Help in The Fight Against Sin
Colossians 3:5 is a call to aggressively fight our sin. And the “why?” behind this is rooted in who we are in Christ, just as it was with our thinking. Because of who we are in Christ, we must be separated from all forms of sexual immorality, as it denies who we are in Christ and amounts to idolatry.
Everything we see here is grounded in who believers are in Christ. That is what the “therefore” is there for. Our new identity in Christ is the BASIS for our separation from all sin. They are of this world, they are things we have died to. They are associated with our old nature. And are therefore to be aggressively put away from any association with our lives.
The language Paul uses here literally means to “kill” your sin. The verb Paul uses is going beyond simply seeking to suppress or control sin in our lives. Paul is calling for us to wipe it out completely, to exterminate our old self and its ways. It calls for decisive and immediate action regarding our sin.
Jesus captures this in Matthew 5:29-30 where Jesus says if your eye causes you to stumble pluck it out. Now we know that simply cutting out our eye won’t solve our sin problem, as our mind is still actively engaged in sin. But the point is to put to death our sin. Deal aggressively with our sin.
And there are specific ways we are commanded to deal with sexual sin and immorality. Look at 1 Cor. 6:18. Notice it didn’t say fight it, pray about it, let go and let God. We are commanded to fight against sexual immorality by fleeing it. Deal with it strongly by running far away from it, not being associated in any way with it. Trying to stand in its presence and resist it clearly doesn’t work. Read the headlines in our culture today and how many people are falling because of this one sin of sexual immorality.
Joseph gives us an example of this this in Gen. 39:12 with regards to Potiphar’s wife’s advances. Ran. Fled at his own peril.
What Paul lists here in this list in v. 5 all have to do with sexual sin. Immorality is the Greek word “porneia” and it is a broad term for any sexual activity outside God’s designed bounds of a heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman. Impurity is similar but points to our thoughts as constituting sin as well, lust in our minds that maybe nobody sees outwardly – deal with this sin strongly too. Passion and evil desire point as well to the inner lure to sexual sin, and how if we do not put these to death they eventually work their way into actions that seek to enslave and consume. All are deadly and destroy the person who doesn’t kill them.
You can’t read 1 Cor. 6 and not realize that there is something especially tragic and devastating about sexual sin. Again, finishing 1 Cor. 6:18, it says “every other sin is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Sexual sin is uniquely devastating and controlling.
This is just one area where Satan has duped us and through constant association has lowered our sensitivity and hate towards sexual sins. Barna Group statistics: 60% of teens seek out pornography weekly. Think about that. Almost identical stat for their fathers not so ironically. Listen to this crazy stat: 56% of people under 25 think that not recycling is wrong morally, whereas only 32% of people under 25 think that viewing pornography is wrong. Crazy that we are more offended by not recycling than we are by pornography. More offended for our environment than we are for our daughters and sons being caught in gross immorality.
And even here in 1 Cor. 6, look at verses 15-17, 19-20, where Paul states why sexual immorality is so devastating. He brings it all back to who we are in Christ and the fact that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are not to avoid sexual immorality simply due to STD’s or pregnancy or the effects on our lives as individuals, though I am not diminishing those. Who we are in Christ demands separation from sexual sins. To approach sexual sin otherwise and to engage in sexual sin amounts to idolatry.
Look at verse 5 at the end. Where all sexual sin originates in is greed, or covetousness, and at that root is idolatry. Covetousness and idolatry are at the heart of these other sins in that they reflect a lack of contentment in Christ, and so we look to fill the void with other things, namely the worship of self. We are not content with Christ or in Christ and so we replace Him with self. We think we deserve something so we pursue it no matter the cost, or without regard for God or others.
What Paul shows here is that every sin, especially sexual sin, finds it root in a refusal to worship God as the one true God and as such constitutes idolatry. This cuts to the heart of the others in the list, the motive behind them. Idolatry, a refusal to submit to Christ’s lordship. Self over God.
What we must realize based upon our text is that sexual sins fight aggressively at our ability to lead a Christ-centered life. That is why sexual sins appear in almost every list of vices we see in the Bible. Romans 1:26-7; 13:13: 1 Cor. 5:10-11; Eph. 5:3; 1 Tim. 1:10 just to offer a few examples. Sexual sin is uniquely devastating and very prevalent as our culture is seeing today. And regularly we see these connected to idolatry. Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5 just to show a couple examples.
Sexual sin ultimately displaces God as the proper and only object of our worship and replaces God with self. Christ is no longer pre-eminent. No longer unrivaled, supreme. We become supreme and our lusts and desires become supreme, and are fed at any cost. We take the rightful place of God in our lives. We call the shots and at the center of everything is our personal gratification, not the good of others or the glory of God. It goes against who we are in Christ.
This is one way that God’s people and the world are contrasted. Paul is emphasizing here the eternal relevance for a believer’s faithful submission to Christ. Hugely important. Believers are called to die to their former life as they participate in the worship of the risen Christ in how they walk as believers, separated from sexual sin.
We cannot be content with looking the part externally. We must aggressively seek to live out the fact that in Christ we have been freed from the power of sin. Again, all based upon who we are in Christ (Col. 3:1-4). Do not tolerate the slightest of sin as a believer. Be separated. Put the old self to death in light of your new identity in Christ and the power of the Spirit in you before it sucks you into destruction.