Today is day three of week ten, reading the Bible through together in a year. Our scriptures today are: Numbers 15-18; Colossians 3; Psalm 113.
Our Colossians passage gives two very tall orders. First, it says in verse 5, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you." What follows is a list of earthly, evil things that should be put to death in the life of a believer--things like "sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (v. 5)" and "anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk (v. 9)." This is a tough list to tackle! We tend towards these earthly things because we're earthly people, and our sin nature rages within us. How then are we supposed to "put off the old self with its practices and...put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (vv. 9-10)"?
The second tall order is equally difficult. Not only are we to put off our old self and the sin that besets us--we are also to "Put on...as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body (vv. 12-15)." Just as it's not natural for us to put off the old self, neither is it natural for us to put on a new self.
But we are supernatural people, and God has given us the ability to do supernatural things. Just as Jesus died and was raised, so we also have His resurrection power living in us. You could say that we are dead men walking--not in the sense of being condemned, but in the sense that we have died to the power of sin. Sin only has power over the living--and we have been set free from its power by Christ's death on the cross. Verse 3 says, "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Galatians 2:20 echoes this: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but
Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by
faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." So we live, no longer as natural people but as supernatural--with the ability to live through the life of Christ, even though we have put our old selves to death. Living people are subject to sin, but death breaks sin's power. As dead men walking, sin has no control over us--but the life of Christ reigns in us instead.
God wouldn't give us a tall order without also giving us the ability to accomplish the task. Through our participation with Christ on the cross, we're set free from the power of sin. But we can still choose to let sin have influence over us. The transformation to godliness is gradual. That is why God's Word says, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (vv. 1-2)." It's a matter of determining your focus. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If you treasure godliness, then your heart will be on godly things. If you treasure wickedness, then your heart will be on sinful things. So set your mind and heart on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33)."
Living the kind of life where your mind is fixed on Christ takes practice. It doesn't come naturally--it comes supernaturally. But then, we're supernatural people. How can we accomplish this? Put into practice those things which will build godliness. Colossians 3:16-17 says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." With the Word of God dwelling in you, and the Name (authority) of Jesus guiding you, you can fill tall orders. You can confidently say, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)."
*All scriptures taken from the ESV.