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Removing What Doesn't Belong

Removing What Doesn't Belong

The condition of almost everything comes from what is put into it and what is kept out of it.

The condition of your bank account comes from what is put into it and what is kept out of it. The condition of the company you work for comes from what is put into it and what is kept out of it. The condition of your home comes from what is put into it and what is kept out of it. If you want anything in your life to flourish, be careful about what gets put into it. But just as much, make sure you remove what doesn’t belong. I’m calling today’s message, “Removing What Doesn’t Belong”.

Today’s main text is Colossians 3:5-11, but I’m including a couple of verses from last week so that we get the connection for this week’s passage.

Colossians 3:3-11 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

The entire journey of our lives with Jesus involves understanding who we are in Him and fully living into that reality.

One of the most perplexing things we experience is when our lived reality doesn’t match up with our positional reality. What do I mean? It’s that dissonance between what we say is true and what we show is true about our lives. It’s believing one thing, but doing another.

How is it possible to live a life that looks the exact opposite of who we say we are and what we say we believe?

I think there are a few possibilities that exist. The first one is this – we aren’t actually who we say we are. Perhaps we assume we are a Christian because of the family we grew up in or because we come to church or maybe because someone told us being a Christian is different than what it actually is.

Have you been transformed by Jesus and given a new identity?

If you haven’t, it can happen today. If you have, let’s talk about why there can be a gap between our true identity in Christ and how we’re living our lives. There are a couple of theological terms that can help us make sense of this gap.

Justification – how a person is declared righteous in God’s sight through their faith in Jesus, not their moral performance

Sanctification – refers to the act or process by which humans become holy

You’ll hear us talk often here at Epic about spiritual formation. This is what we mean, the life of Christ formed in our lived reality. We died with Christ – that’s a truth about our positional reality. But now, we must put things to death so that we live into the identity we’ve been given in Christ. Paul breaks this down in a verse I want to encourage each of us to memorize and spend time meditating on:

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Positional Reality – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live; Christ lives in me.

Lived Reality – The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

What are we supposed to put to death? WHATEVER belongs to our earthly nature, also called “the life you once lived” or “your old self”. In other places, Paul simply calls this the FLESH.

Galatians 5:16-17 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

These things don’t go with our new identity. They don’t fit. They don’t belong. So we must remove them to have the full life of Christ operating in our lives. What are some of these things?

Paul goes on to give us a number of specific things. Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. We are to put to death any sexual practices that are outside of God’s intention and design.

Why is God asking us to kill what the world promises will give us life?

God offers us abundant life and he has given us the gift of sex. He has also provided an environment where sexual practice brings life and that environment is the covenant of marriage. I know this is an unpopular belief in our world and maybe even in your life. Do you believe God is telling you the truth about what brings life and what brings death?  

Then he mentions greed and says that it is idolatry. The actual Greek word that gets translated into “greed” means a desire to have more. How is greed idolatry? One commentator gave this explanation:

To act as if everything exists for us is to place ourselves in the place of God himself.

What are some practical ways to put greed to death?

• Fast from purchasing new things for a period of time

• Make generosity a consistent habit in your life

Then Paul says we must also rid ourselves of these things: anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying.

Anger is a chronic attitude of smoldering hatred.

Rage is that quick, sudden outburst at someone that’s so intense.

Malice means the deliberate intention of doing harm to others.

Slander means to defame someone’s character or injure their reputation.

Filthy language refers to obscene or abusive speech.

Lying is pretty self-explanatory.

All of these things belong with the old life and the old self, but they do not fit with the new life we’ve been given in Christ.

Paul’s language might seem extreme to us – Put to Death! Why not, “All things in moderation”? Or “seek to minimize these sins in your life”? There is no life in these things. They don’t belong with our new identity in Jesus. If you are genuinely a Christian, all of these things only fit with your false self, but not your true self.

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

How do we kill these things? What is God’s part in the process? What is our part? We need a power beyond ourselves to overcome ourselves.

So much of our formation comes from what we feed and what we starve. Think about each of our physical bodies. Our bodies have become what they are, in large part, because of what we have put into them and what we have kept out of them. The same is true with our spiritual formation.

Our spiritual formation is the result of what we take in and what we keep out.

Luke 6:43-45 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.

“The things we do, do something to us. They shape the people we become.” John Mark Comer, Live No Lies

We need habits, practices, and rhythms to become who Jesus intends for us to be. Remember we aren’t doing these things to gain a good standing with God. We already have the positional reality of being a new self in Christ. Our spiritual formation journey is how our identity becomes a lived reality in our lives.

“There is nothing that you or I can do to change the nature of our dead body. That is God’s realm. What we can do is to offer to God the spiritual discipline that God stirs within us by the Spirit.” Robert Mulholland, Invitation to a Journey

For everyone who has new life in Christ, here is what this means for us as a community: the barriers have been removed and the truest thing about our lives is that we are in Christ.

What we have in common (in Christ) is greater than all the ways we are different.

Jesus didn’t die so you could be free from most of your sins. He died for all of your sins so you could live completely free; living fully into your identity as someone who belongs to Him.

I know that if you’re being honest, you feel like there is a particular sin you’ll never be able to put to death in your life. I know that because I’ve had some and I have some. Do not give up your hope that it’s not only possible, but Jesus is expecting it. And He’s ready to empower you by His Spirit.

What are the things that need to die in you, so that you can truly live?

Why does God ask us to put these things to death? Does he not want us to be joyful? Quite the opposite. God wants to kill whatever is killing you.

Response Time:

-Receive new life in Jesus

-Have someone pray over you to have the power from God to overcome what’s destroying you.

What do you need to starve?

What do you need God’s power to overcome?

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