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The Process of Killing Carnality

Colossians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:05:49
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Paul has two major goals in his letter to the Colossians. Number one, Paul wants to encourage these believers that they might grow in their relationship with God IN CHRIST. Number two, Paul does not want these believers to be deluded by a man made system of artificial spiritual growth.
And so with these goals in mind Paul gave two commands to the Colossian believers back in chapter two that he has been expounding ever since. Paul commanded these believers to be on the look out so that no one takes them captive through empty deceptive philosophy. Don’t be deceived into trying to attain spiritual growth through anything that is not centered on Christ. Paul, also positively commanded these believers to instead seek to grow spiritual through the same dependent faith that enabled them to receive Christ as their Lord- with that same kind of faith IN CHRIST walk in Christ- live your life with a faith in Christ is is rooted and built up IN HIM and established in the faith and abounding in thanksgiving.
Last week we began a discussion of exactly how we do that. How do we practically walk in Christ? How do we grow spiritual through a dependent faith in Christ? What does that look like in our life?

I. You must reorient your heart and your mind IN CHRIST (3:1-4)

What do we mean by that?
First of all we are to SEEK the things that are above.
If you have been raised with Christ- if you have participated in the power of the resurrection of Christ- and you have been enabled by the power of God to walk in newness of life- then seek after heavenly realities. Just like the needle on a compass reorients itself to point north, so must our hearts reorient themselves so that they point toward Christ. Christ, and the things above must be the treasure of our hearts. And our whole life is now guided by our love and a desire to seek after Christ rather than old earthly things.
Second, we are to set our minds on Christ. The things that are above, not earthly things, are now to be what delight our thinking. We are to set our whole minds IN CHRIST- our pattern of though, what delights our minds, should now be reoriented toward Christ.
Why should we so drastically alter the course of our hearts and our minds? Paul tells us why- because:
You are dead in Christ
Your life is hidden with Christ
You will appear with Christ, and it will be glory!
This morning we want to look at answer #2 How do we practically walk in Christ? How do we grow spiritual through a dependent faith in Christ? What does that look like in our life?

II. You must kill everything that is mundane and carnal in your being (3:5-9)

Colossians 3:5–9 KJV 1900
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

A. Become what you are (v. 5a)

Colossians 3:5 KJV 1900
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
There is an extremely important connecting word in the first part of v.5 that is easy to glance over, but we would do damage to Paul’s teaching if we neglected it. Paul states, “Mortify therefore- you members which are upon the earth.” This conjunction is a post-positive which means that we should actually translate it first is sentence order- Therefore, mortify or put to death your members.
In other words the command to mortify or to put to death your earthly members is tied into the concept of vv. 1-4. I believe it is tied into our identity in Christ.
What has Paul stated about our identity?

If ye then be risen with Christ

For ye are dead

your life is hid with Christ in God

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory

Therefore, because of our identity or our position in Christ- IN CHRIST I AM DEAD TO SIN- therefore, become dead to sin in the realities of everyday life.
Now there are two very important truths that I want you to get here.

1. Our position IN CHRIST demands that we put to death sin in our lives

Because we are dead to sin IN CHRIST- we are commanded to put to death sin in our everyday lives.

2. Our position IN CHRIST empowers and effects us so that it actually becomes possible to put to death sin in our lives

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: Colossians and Philemon 2. Putting off the Practices of the “Old Self” (3:5–11)

Ultimately, then, the imperative “put to death” in this verse must be viewed as a call to respond to, and cooperate with, the transformative power that is already operative within us.

I think this is exactly right. If the command to put sin to death in our life does not operate within the transformative power of our relationship IN CHRIST, then what Paul is telling these believers would be no different than what the false teachers were pushing in their empty deceptive philosophy.
What was the false teacher’s philosophy?
Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch- these were their regulations- and Paul said that it had the appearance of wisdom, the man-centered religion with its ascetic practices and the severe measures that they would subject their body to, Paul said it appears as if it is successful, but ultimately it is of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Now if Paul simply told these believers- just go ahead and kill what is earthly in you, how is that any different to what the false teachers were pushing. But Paul began Col. 3 with the concept of seeking after Christ, and setting our mind on Christ, Paul reminded us of our position in Christ. And it is out of this position- it is out of our relationship IN CHRIST- that we find the actual transformative power to put to death the power of our flesh. Become what you already are IN CHRIST.

B. Be changed from within (v. 5, 8-9)

Colossians 3:5 KJV 1900
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Paul commands these believer, because of your position in Christ, you are to mortify or put to death or kill your members upon the earth. You are to kill your members (the parts of your body) that are relating to this earth. Now some folks get really confused by all this- they take this literally. Do you remember what Jesus said concerning this idea- Jesus said,
Matthew 5:29 KJV 1900
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And Jesus said the same thing about the hand, if your right hand offend you- what? Cut it off. Some people have actually plucked out their eyes and cut off their hand because they misunderstood what Jesus and what Paul were talking about.
The problem is if you actually do kill the physical parts of your body, that does not stop your heart from sinning. If you pluck out your eye, does that stop your heart from lusting after things that are evil? No it doesn’t. Paul is making a case that real growth changes not just the external, but also the internal.
So what does Paul mean when he tells us to kill the members of our body associated with the earth? There is a real connection between the sins that we commit and the physical parts of our body. When a child is sassing his mother, sometimes you will hear the mother say to the child, “stop giving me so much lip.” What does she mean by that? She is using the physical member- the lip- to represent the sin of disrespectful speech coming from the child’s mouth. And I think that is what Paul is doing here. He is making the connection that the sin of our heart is connected with the members of our body. But he goes deeper- I believe that Paul argues for a change not just at an outward level, but a change that goes all the way to our heart.
Here in v.5 and again in v.8 Paul gives us two lists- that help us to understand what he means by killing our members on the earth. These are not complete lists of the sins that we struggle with, but a sampling of some of the major ones that can only be changed from the inside out. I want you to notice the progression that takes place in these lists of sins.
Look at v. 5
Colossians 3:5 KJV 1900
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Notice this first list progresses from the external physical act of sin, to the internal heart cause of sin.
1. Fornication- fornication (sexual immorality- unlawful sexual acts- πορνεία / pornography). This is the physical external act of sin.
2. Uncleanness- immorality (vileness, inward filth or refuse- c.f. Mt 23.27; Ro 1.24; Eph 4.19)
Matthew 23:27 KJV 1900
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
Romans 1:24 KJV 1900
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Ephesians 4:19 KJV 1900
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
The outward act of fornication comes from the inward heart that is unclean or immoral.
3. Inordinate affection- passion (strong desire, Ro 1.26- disgraceful passions)
Romans 1:26 KJV 1900
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
There is nothing wrong with being passionate, but this is an inordinate or a vile passion. I am very passionate in my love toward by wife, but if I love my sons the same way I love my wife- then that passion is inordinate its vile.
This is strongly connected with the next word.
4. Evil concupiscence- evil lusts (a desire for something forbidden or inordinate)
Fornication, stems from an inward uncleaness, and this inward uncleanness is a result of vile passions and evil lusts. Where do these vile passions and evil lusts come from?
5. Covetousness- the state of desiring to have more than one’s due, or it is the desire to have something that is forbidden. You not only want something that you don’t have, but what you want is something that you cannot have, something that God says is forbidden. This is closely tied to number 6. Covetousness which is what? Idolatry.
6. Idolatry- worshiping or loving something else other than God. Most of the time when we replace God with something else, when we worship or love something else or someone else what or who is that? It is ourselves.
Here is what happens. We replace God, instead of loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength- we replace God and we become idolaters of the heart, and instead we worship and love our own selves. Since we now love ourselves with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength- we covet- we long for that which is forbidden. Out of that longing comes evil lusts and vile passions out of that comes inward uncleaness, and out of that comes the external act of sin in the members of our body- sexual immorality. Paul here is commanding that we kill, we put to death the members of our body. Now, listen, that is impossible to do just by keeping a set of regulations, why? Because in order to actually stop the indulgence of the flesh, in order to grow with a growth that is from God you have to not just deal with the outward members of the body- you have to go all the way down deep to the very cause of the problem. You have to solve the sin of being an idolater of the heart. You have to overcome the sin of self-love and self-worship and the only way to do that is through the transformative power of the gospel. The only way to do that is through the power of a relationship with Christ. By faith you identify with the transformative power of Christ, and you being to learn what it means to seek Christ with all your heart and delight your mind in Christ not on things of the earth. And then all the way deep down Christ changes you heart so that you actually love God with all your heart, and mind, and strength. You tear down the idols of your heart, you kill the all of the vile loves in your heart, and instead you grow in your love for Christ. And when you do that. When you, by the power of the gospel in your relationship with Christ are transformed from the inside all the way deep down in the love of your heart, guess what happens? It works its way all the way back up the chain.
Instead of coveting, I am content in Christ
Instead of evil lusts and vile passions, I seek after that which is pure and peaceable
Instead of inward filth and uncleanness, I confess my sin and He is faithful and just to forgive me my sin and what? Cleanse me from all unrighteousness
And instead of my members participate in sexual immorality, I produce good works for the glory of God.
Do you see how that works? It is incredible and it is only possible in Christ. That kind of change is something only the power of God can do.
It is still you that has to kill that which is earthly in you. You still have to as Paul says in Philippians 2- work out your own salvation- this is not a mysticism. But it is God that works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. You have to work at putting these things to death, it takes effort and it isn’t easy, but it is only possible IN CHRIST.
Look at the second list in v. 8 and 9
Colossians 3:8–9 KJV 1900
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
Here we have the opposite of the first list. The first list progressed from the outward in, this list progresses from the inward out.
Anger- (a state or condition or strong displeasure, seething always there anger that just needs to be fanned into life)
2. Wrath (state of intense displeasure, rage- flare ups of the deep seated anger, outbursts of anger)
3. Malice (mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition)
4. Blasphemy- slander (speech that denigrates of defames)
5. Filthy communication- obscene talk , speech that is in poor taste, dirty talk. (Illustration- working the lumber yard)
6. Lying-
All of this funnels back to the idea of being an idolater of the heart. Wrongly placed love and wrongly placed thinking produces sins in our earthly members. And if we are to truly change then that change must come from deep down within.

C. Be aware of the realities (vv. 6, 7)

In vv. 6-7 Paul give several reasons for why we should kill that which is carnal in us. His reasons consist of realities of life.
Colossians 3:6 KJV 1900
6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In v. 5- put to death, v. 8 also put off that which is carnal in you- why?
Reality #1-
For/because of these things (what things? anger, wrath, malice, obscene talk, lying, sexual immorality, evil lusts), because of these things the wrath of God is coming.
Why would you want to participate in these things. It is because of these things that God will pour out his wrath on mankind.
For the unbeliever, it is exactly these kinds of sins that one day they will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment and God will hold them accountable for all of their works and they will have to bear the wrath of God- they will be thrown into the lake of fire forever and ever to pay for the debt of their sin. This is not because God is vindictive or mean, but rather because God is holy and just. It is because of who He is that He must hold sinners accountable. But God is also loving and gracious. God does not want anyone to have to bear the wrath of God for their sin debt, so out of love He sent Jesus Christ to pay for your sin debt in your place.
Colossians 2:13–14 KJV 1900
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Yet some will not believe, they will not put their faith in Christ so that they might be forgiven of their sins. So instead of having their sin debt blotted out, instead of Christ suffering the wrath of God for their sins by shedding His blood for them on the cross, because they reject Christ, they themselves will suffer the wrath of God forever and ever.
Now this morning, if you have been risen with Christ, and you have died in Christ, and you have your life hidden with Christ- then why would you choose to go back and put on the old filthy garments of your old nature- knowing full well that it is for these very sins that God’s wrath is coming upon the children of disobedience. These are the very sins that nailed Christ to the cross, and we would go back to them? You say, that is foolishness, and you would be right, and yet we do it all the time. And that is why, here is Col. 3.6 Paul gives us a very compelling reason for why we should kill our sinful members that are earthly within us. Why would we participate in something that only brings God’s wrath. Now as believers we no long have to fear the wrath of God. We no longer have to fear being cast out of his presence forever, because we have been redeemed through the blood of Christ. Sin is still sin, and God will deal with sin. In the case of a believer it is not in the form of wrath, but in the form of what? Discipline (read Heb 12 sometime). God will discipline believers in order to do away with that sin, so that we can become more like His Son Jesus.
Part of killing that which is carnal in you means embracing the reality that it is because of these kinds of sins that God pours out His wrath.
Reality #2-
Why should I put to death that which is carnal in me?
Because- You used to walk in those kind of things, BUT NOW your walk is IN CHRIST, and so you must put off the sins that were part of your old unregenerate self.
Colossians 3:7–8 KJV 1900
7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Before Christ, when you were lost in your sin, when you were living in your old unregenerate sinful nature, that is when your lifestyle was characterized by all these sins- sexual immorality, and filthy talk, and slander, and lying one to another.
1 Peter 4:3–4 KJV 1900
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
Ephesians 2:1–3 KJV 1900
1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
But / BUT all of that has radically changed. Now, you are IN CHRIST, your position your nature your allegiance has all been radically changed and therefore you walk also should be radically changed.
Colossians 2:6 KJV 1900
6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Ephesians 2:4–6 KJV 1900
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Believer do you understand these realities- these things are true of you!
You have been made alive together with Christ
You have been raised up together with Christ
You have been made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ
You are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ
Your real life is hidden with Christ
You will appear when Christ appears in glory
All of these realities are yours in Christ. You used to walk in the sins of your flesh, because you were dead in your sins, but now you must walk in Christ because you are dead to your sins. Because of your identity in Christ, because of your relationship with Christ Paul says this in the first part of v. 8-
But now ye also put off all these
Put off- the picture is that of taking off and casting aside filthy dirty rags- old stinky disgusting clothes- cast them off. Here Paul uses the imagery of clothes to picture the sinful lifestyle that characterized you back when you were unregenerate, back when you were spiritual dead without Christ. Back then you used to wear the garment of sexual immorality and you used to wear the garment of obscene talk an you used to wear the garment of deep seated anger. Those where the clothes that you put on in your old self.
You used to walk in those kind of things, BUT NOW your walk is IN CHRIST, and so you must put off the sins that were part of your old unregenerate self.
This is all part of walking in Christ.
How do we practically walk in Christ? How do we grow spiritual through a dependent faith in Christ? What does that look like in our life?
You must kill everything that is mundane and carnal in your being
Become what you are
Our position IN CHRIST demands that we put to death sin in our lives
Our position IN CHRIST empowers and effects us so that it actually becomes possible to put to death sin in our lives
Be changed from within
idolaters of the heart
Be aware of the realities
This all ties back into the idea of
You must reorient your heart and your mind IN CHRIST
This is what dependent faith in Christ is all about. This is how you actually become more like Christ.
How about you?
What is earthly about you? What clothes of your old self are you putting back on? What do you need to put to death? What idols of your heart are you holding on to? What things are you coveting? What kind of evil lusts plague your life? Do you have that deep seeded anger simmering just below the surface of your heart?
You can put off those old clothes. You can put to death what is earthly in you. You can become like Christ! Seek Him, set your mind on him, confess to God the idols, the wrong loves of your heart. Replace those loves with a love for Christ. Stop filling your mind stop delighting your thoughts with earthly things, and begin delighting you mind in Christ. Believe the realities that are true of you IN CHRIST, and walk in dependent faith in Him.
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