Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all."
WARNING: Please please please please please do not lose focus. Yesterday we saw how critical it is to fill our hearts and minds with the things of heaven. Today we will see that it is also important to recognize and reject the habits and thought patterns of darkness. HOWEVER the purpose of focusing on the good while rejecting the bad is NOT to acquire God's favour or to become good enough.
Notice in verse 3 that when you chose Jesus you died and your life is now hidden. When the accuser comes at you to expose all that is dark in you he will have nothing to say because your darkness was put to death on the cross and the only record by your name is the spotless life of Christ. There is nothing you can add going forward to what He has done. You can't make His perfection more perfect. Again at the risk of being overly repetitive - You are complete in Him.
OK, that being the case what is all this talk about immorality and lust and anger and malice? Why are we back talking about the darkness? I thought we were supposed to be focusing on all the good things? We are. We absolutely are.
There is a problem in Colossae and Laodicea remember. Persuasive men have come in among them to convince them that they need more than Jesus. As if that idea alone isn't bad enough they are adding to Jesus completely external superficial things. Paul wants to make it crystal clear in chapter three that the darkness in us is not of a superficial nature therefore superficial strategies like circumcision and holy days and food and drink etc... will do nothing to effect any real change.
You can be as evil as evil can be and keep a holy day or a feast day or eat certain foods at certain times. You'll still be evil when you're done your religious duties.
God has a two phase plan for you and I. The first phase was to give His Son and that is finished. We are complete in Him. The second phase is to begin the healing process. "You will call His name Jesus because He will heal His people from their sins." Matt. 1:21
Our sins are deep, much deeper than any religious "malpractice" and even though Jesus has taken the guilt and punishment on Himself already we are still here. Our immorality and rage and malice are still affecting us here. He does not want that for us. We are destroying ourselves and others while we talk about heaven but live like hell.
The putting off of sin Paul is addressing here in chapter three is not about becoming good enough since we are already complete. It is about healing so we can be happier here and now and win others to Him by our lives. Look at verses 9 and 10. It embodies the tension of what it means to be a Christian in a few words:
"9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."
New and being renewed. Complete and being completed. Look at how we are renewed - in knowledge. Transformed by the renewing of your mind. Set your heart on things above. Set your mind on things above. As we do this morning by morning and evening by evening our lives are being reshaped and renewed on the deepest levels. Levels that long dresses and circumcision and dietary restrictions or additions can never hope to touch.
Only He can do the healing. We just need to choose to live in His presence where the Light can shine. Darkness can't survive there.