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Colossians 3:5-6 - Pure Thinking

Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:17
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Last week we just discussed higher thoughts. We talked about thinking heavenward. The sermon was a very positive one as we considered how we needed to view all of the earthly decisions that we make. If you recall, we said:
You can only know what direction you are to go if you know the destination in which you are heading.
This week we are coming to a more difficult section of Scripture. In fact the next couple of weeks are difficult. Last week, we learned why we need to make certain directional choices - meaning that we learned why we should make decisions with our heavenly destination in mind. This idea of having higher thoughts and making every decision with eternity and Christ in mind gives us a view of life like being on the open road like in this picture. Stay focused on the destination and make the right turns and decisions.
This week, we are going to start moving forward and envision ourselves as we are on our trip to our heavenly destination and run into many dangers on the way. As we see in this next picture - the road isn’t always bright and sunny. Sometimes it is dangerous. Waves of temptation and sin attack us as we continue on our destination.
So how do we continue to make the right directional choices in a world full of impurity? How are we to not only have higher thoughts but also pure thoughts?
Join me as we read God’s Word to find the answers:
Colossians 3:5–6 ESV
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
Let us pray.
Today we are going to two reasons why we should have pure thinking and put to death impurity. The first is:

I. Believers in Christ Should Put to Death Impurity… Because of God’s Command (5)

Colossians 3:5 ESV
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
There are very few ways to start a sentence off more intensely than with the words put to death! This is quite a statement. There is no wiggle room for trying to squeeze something through by rationalizing when you have such a blatantly intense statement. There is one Greek word for this phrase which means to cease completely, render dead, or to consider as dead. Dead things don’t move. They don’t act. They don’t live. What Paul is about to talk about is completely killing sin in your life.
The Word Biblical Commentary on Colossians refers to this statement of putting to death as a decisive act which is followed by a permanent attitude.
The word that the Puritans used a lot for this idea was mortification which carries the idea of subduing one’s evil bodily desires. It is the continuing killing of sin in your life.
John Owen, the great Puritan, once said:
“Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”
John Owen (The Mortification of Sin)
The danger that we must watch as we discuss the command to mortify or kill sin is that we might get to the point where we think that we, ourselves, can actually overcome sin.
In the same book Owen addressed this erroneous thinking:
“All other ways of mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must be done by the Spirit.”
John Owen (The Mortification of Sin)
This putting to death needs to be done by the Holy Spirit. We must actively take part in this along with the Holy Spirit through obedience to His commands, but we must never feel like we can do it alone. Before Christ we were slaves to sin. And without Christ’s help we will continually be overpowered by sin.
Some will take this understanding and object to this idea and state, didn’t you just say last week that you are new creation - the old has gone and the new has come? F.F. Bruce helps us understand this idea further by stating: - (Christians) exist in two planes so long as mortal life endures. Spiritually they already belong to the age to come while temporarily they are involved in this present age.”
This tension between the now and the not yet is normal for the believer. We must embrace it and understand it well. We are saved by grace through faith. Our salvation is sure.
We have to look no further than Jesus’ words as He warned his disciples about this tension as well.
Matthew 26:41 ESV
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
John MacArthur also added to this idea by stating that the positional reality in which we live must be worked out through a believer’s practical living. He also referred to sin as a deposed monarch who no longer reigns, no longer has the power to condemn, but works hard to debilitate and devastate all his former subjects.
Colossians 3:5 ESV
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
As we have already moved into what we are to put to death - namely sin - for the sake of clarity - we see that we are to put to death what is earthly in you. This means the sins of the flesh. Some translations actually translate this as put to death the members of your earthly body. Both of these refer to the sins associated with the flesh. We are not to hate our body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Although our earthly body is marred by sin, it is still to be used to glorify God. We must not fall into the error of Gnostics who believe everything material is evil and cannot be used for good.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
We are to glorify God with our bodies.
Colossians 3:5 ESV
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Moving on through this verse we come to 5 different sins that we need to put to death. Let’s walk through each of these together.
1. Put to Death Sexual Immorality
The Greek for this is porneia - where we get our word for pornography. This particular Greek word originally referred to prostitution but by the time of the writing of the New Testament it broadened to include any form of sexual encounter.
I realize that this isn’t the most comfortable subject to discuss. Many may really shy away from discussing things like this with their children and scoff that I would be so bold as to teach this Scripture to our entire church family. My friends, I am sad to say that this is likely not news to many of your children. This subject is infiltrating our entire culture. Sexual sin is on a trajectory that is working to rival the pagan Greek and Roman cultures.
According to the most recent divorce statistics, 55% of marriages that end in divorce cite the primary reason as infidelity. We see that over half of divorces are due to sexual sin.
I think that in most conservative evangelical churches, it is largely understood that sexual acts outside of marriage are sinful. Although it is commonplace to still occur even in these churches, most would cite that they understand the Biblical teachings on such matters.
However, the next sin that we are to put to death is the biggest threat to our churches today.
2. Put to Death Impurity
Impurity is the gateway sin to sexual immorality or committing fornication. The Greek word here means uncleanness and oftentimes refers more to lustful intent. Although the first word we discussed is where we get the word for pornography, this term is more in line with the contemporary understanding of pornography. Impurity mentioned here refers to thoughts that stain one’s mind. It has destructive power and is oftentimes a secret world in the lives of people.
I hope that we realize the issue in our culture with impurity today. According to statistics on this from and, the porn industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone. Every second there are 28,258 users worldwide viewing pornography any any one time. Daily, around 25% of internet searches, amounting to around 68 billion searches, are related to pornography.
What was once thought to be a disorder limited to men has quickly become a disorder among both men and women with the most recent statistics showing that 1/3 of regular viewers are actually women.
Sadly, even when we try to set safeguards to keep from exposures, recent data suggests that at least 34% of internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to explicit content through ads, pop ups, or misdirected links or emails.
I know that was a lot of data to throw at you at once. I want to give a moment for that to sink in for a bit. Especially that last part. 34% of those not trying to look at explicit content were exposed to it inadvertently.
Brothers and sisters, our children need our protection here. According to, the average age that a child sees pornography is 11 years old. 11 years old my friends. That is the average. Many are exposed well before this. Even with good safeguards in our children’s lives this can happen. But we want to do everything we can to help them through this. We want to, first off, prevent it, but secondly we want to keep a communication of grace and love to our kids and be there for them to help counsel them if they are exposed to explicit material. Our children are growing up in a very difficult time, and they need us as a protector and sounding board to help them navigate these difficult times.
When practicing as a family physician I saw a lot of pediatric patients. I would often counsel parents regarding electronics and the internet in this way:
I’m going to get very practical hear so track with me.
We need to compare the internet to driving. We don’t just hand our kids the keys to the car and let them take off right? No. That would be insane right. Driving is extremely dangerous. They could kill themselves or someone else.
Instead, they ride with us as children and gradually pick up some things as they grow up. Then they study a book in order to take a test that tells them all of the rules of the road. Then they have to drive for a year or so with us as we watch their every move and help them along. Then they have to pass another test in order to get a driver’s license.
In the same way, we shouldn’t just give our children the keys, per se, to the internet and let them surf the world wide web without oversight. According to, cell phones have become the most common electronic that pornography is viewed. I see child after child holding one of those and it pains me to think of how many children are seeing images on those things.
If your child has a cell phone, be sure that you are the most tech savvy person on the planet. Do your research. Because even with the best fail-safes in place, there always seems to be a way for a child to get around them.
But I don’t want to make this all about our children as well. I ended my analogy with the fact that a teenager must take a driver’s test in order to get his or her license. Yet, accountability does not stop there. There are police officers that continue to keep us accountable as adults. In the same way, each of us should have an accountability partner. Someone should see every website we visit and everything that we view. There should be no room for secrets in our marriages. Our cell phones and personal emails should be freely accessible to our spouses or our accountability partner.
We must avoid impurity. As Owen put it - Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.
We must pray that the Holy Spirit changes our impurity to purity. May God takes our uncleanness and change it to cleanness.
3. Put to Death Passion
4. Put to Death Evil Desire
I have put these next two together because they are very similar. Passion in this instance is not the type of passion we think of today. It is not being passionate in a good way about something good. It is being passionate about evil desires. One might break these down like this: passion is carrying out physically what the evil desire desires internally.
My friends, we can learn from these two concepts that evil thoughts and desires lead to evil deeds or evil passions. If we want to see our actions change we must start by gaining control of our minds with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Our prayer should be like the Psalmist who said:
Psalm 51:10 ESV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
5. Put to Death Covetousness
Finally we get to the final of these 5 sins that we must put to death. This one is probably the climax of them all. It very well takes into account the first four but it adds so much more than those. This word can also be translated greed. It is a term that refers to always having a desire for more. It is the seed in which all other sin germinates. It is this sin that led to the fall of man and woman in the garden and continues to lead to the falling of man and woman today. It is the sin of being discontent.
Covetousness literally means that we do not feel that God is enough to satisfy us. We tell God that He is not enough and His provision is not enough for us when we covet. We tell God that our husband or wife is not enough, our family is not enough, our job is not enough, or house is not enough, our car is not enough, but most of all - He is not enough.
The root sin in coveting is idolatry. We are placing ourselves or our desires or things or someone else above God.
This is seen as a huge deal in another one of Paul’s epistles:
Ephesians 5:5 ESV
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Are you an idolater? If so this Scripture clearly articulates that you have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Don’t misunderstand this. We all struggle with sins. But do you struggle with your sin? Are you seeking to mortify the sin in your life through the power of the Holy Spirit? Or are you bowing down at the altar of immorality, impurity, or greed?
We should be of those who are washed clean and are walking in freedom given by Christ as Paul mentioned to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
We should be able to talk about these kinds of sin as past sins. Yes, we may stumble from time to time and have ups and downs and praise God that His grace and mercy is always there for us - but we should be continuing to move closer to the Lord and continuing to strive toward God above all.
A Scripture that has always struck me as helpful when considering fighting sins that are so difficult as what we have been discussing is this:
Hebrews 12:4 ESV
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
That is quite the charge there isn’t it! The author of Hebrews makes quite an outstanding remark. Obviously this doesn’t mean we are to self-harm as we have already discussed about how we are to glorify God with our bodies and that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
But what it means is that we need to be willing to do whatever it takes to win the battle against sin. If we need to give up some of our favorite hobbies - so be it. Christ is greater and worth more. If we need to give up certain movies. Christ is greater. If we need to not go certain places. Christ is greater.
My friends, whatever has come into your mind right now as something that you would never want to give up even if it causes you to stumble…you have answered this question. That is your idol. That is your god. Mortify your sin. Cast out the chaff of your life and allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify you my friends.
Christ is so much more than the things of this earth.
Put to death impurity because of God’s command.
Scripture References: Matthew 26:41, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Psalm 51:10, Ephesians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Hebrews 12:4

II. Believers in Christ Should Put to Death Impurity… Because of God’s Condemnation (6)

Colossians 3:6 ESV
On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
I pray that God’s command is enough for you to put to death impurity. But if that hasn’t proven to be enough, Paul writes yet another warning. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
The Greek for the word wrath here can also mean anger. However, we must understand that God’s wrath is not haphazard. It isn’t uncalculated. Everything God does is calculated and perfectly orchestrated. He doesn’t make rash decisions. He responds in a calculated way.
He can be so calculated because He is not limited by space or time. He is not limited by fatigue. He is not swayed by the opinion of man.
Isaiah 46:9–10 ESV
remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
He can declare because He is there.
Sounds like a t-shirt or bumper sticker doesn’t it? He is already at the end and at the beginning simultaneously - so He can declare what has happened and what will happen. And His counsel shall always stand and His purpose shall always be accomplished.
Because of this, His wrath is poured out in an organized way. He is not surprised by the sin of man. Man never catches God off with their sin.
Understanding this leads me to believe that there is probably not a more fear-inducing verse in the Bible for the unbeliever than Hebrews 10:31:
Hebrews 10:31 ESV
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
God’s wrath will be poured out on unrepentant sinners. Eternal suffering in Hell is a real thing for those who do not put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our churches today are not very quick in admitting this fact. They don’t discuss the subject of eternal punishment in Hell. But as we saw above - it is not the Lord who changes. It is the church that has changed and not given the full message of the Bible.
Yet despite His wrath and His amazing power and knowledge and wisdom - He still rejoices in showing mercy. We actually see in the book of Isaiah that although He most certainly follows through with judgment - it is called His strange deed or alien work.
Isaiah 28:21 ESV
For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim; as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed—strange is his deed! and to work his work—alien is his work!
He delights in seeing man come to repentance. Judgment is his strange deed. In Ezekiel we see him say:
Ezekiel 18:23 ESV
Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
We see that He takes no pleasure in pouring out His wrath upon the wicked. He would rather they turn their wicked way and live. A good God must punish sin though. God would not be good if He allowed sin to continue. Just as we consider a judge who lets off criminals a bad judge we would see God the same way if He didn’t punish sinners.
But praise God that isn’t where the story ends my friends.
God has offered a way for us to avoid His wrath through His Son Jesus Christ. God is still a good judge because He did not leave sin unaccounted for. But He showed Himself even greater by taking the punishment for sinful man as the man Jesus Christ! Jesus died on the cross for our sins and took the wrath of God that we deserved. He rose from the dead three days later and now is at the right hand of the Father - ready to intercede on our behalf.
You see, Christ took upon Himself the wrath of God that was reserved for you and your sin.
1 Peter 2:24 ESV
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Jesus took the punishment that you and I deserved. I pray that you have accepted that free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. As we mentioned before - you must confess your sin and repent from your sin first and foremost and then believe in the Lord Jesus Christ - who is the only way to the Father. Then you may be saved.
Scripture References: Isaiah 46:9-10, Hebrews 10:31, Isaiah 28:21, Ezekiel 18:23, 1 Peter 2:24, Romans 6:14
As we come to a close:
We should put to death impurity because of God’s command and because of God’s condemnation. And if we might add a third - because of God’s consummation. The consummate means to make complete. God offers us abundant and complete life in Him forevermore. I pray you have placed your trust in Christ as your Lord and Savior. If not, I pray that you do that now. Today is the day of salvation. I’d love to discuss this further with you after the service.
If you have, I pray that you take the teaching from today and examine yourself honestly. Are you struggling with sin? Are you attempting to mortify sin in your life through the power of the Holy Spirit? Or are you just giving in and living in constant sin? Are you setting appropriate boundaries or are you falling at the feet of whatever idol causes you to stumble time and time again? My friends, today is the day to take a stand. Repent of your sin. Stand firm in Christ and through His power set guardrails and boundaries to help you fight against the evil one. Claim with Paul here in Romans:
Romans 6:14 ESV
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Ask Christ to remove the shackles of sin from your wrists and feet and walk in freedom that is given by Christ. He is so sweet and so good. And He is more than powerful enough to help you break the chains of sin in your life.
Let us pray.
If you would like to learn more about salvation through Jesus Christ or want to obey Jesus by obeying the first commandment of a believer in going through the waters of baptism - please let me know.
Have a blessed week.
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