Monday, June 01, 2009

Remove the Dirty Clothes

{Colossians 3:5-10; NLT}
So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

Do you hear it? Do you hear the cry of your heart? The cry to be transformed into the person God created you to be. Don’t be ashamed, for my heart is crying the very same thing. One of the deepest longs we have is the desire to truly live life, and instinctively we know that true life can only be found with the Life Maker. Only God can truly offer us the life that we so desperately want to live.

While many of us have turned to God to find life we are frustrated with the results. One of the reasons for this reality is that we have refused to give up certain behaviors. We have allowed Satan to lie to us and convince us that these “little vices” are not a big deal and will not harm our spiritual growth, and yet the result of our lives would tell us a different story. We are frustrated because our lives are not characterized by joy, peace, love, or hope they way it should be. In short we are not living the abundant life Jesus promised His followers.

Here is the truth of the matter. While our small vices may not seem to be a big deal and that we control them, they, in fact, control our lives. We keep them because they give us a connection to this world, so we don’t feel out of place. The problem is that God has called us to live as foreigners and pilgrims in this world, in other words, we are not supposed to fit into the ways of the world. We keep them because we are addicted to the way they make us feel, and it would be hard work to break free from their grasp. The problem is that God has told us to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and we cannot be guided if we are in the grasp of an addiction.

Make no mistake about it, these private little sins that we hold on to pose a bigger threat to our relationship with God than we realize. They keep us from experiencing God at work in our lives, and they allow Satan to establish a stronghold in our hearts that he can use to lead us further down the path of sin and death. As long as we are willing to play in the mud of sin, no matter how shallow it might seem, we will continually miss out on the celebration of life God wants us to experience.

The apostle Paul wanted to make sure we understood that there must be a throwing off of our old way of life as we adopt a brand new way of living. We cannot hope to hang on to our old way of life and still follow Jesus. It has to be one or the other.

Paul wrote; Put on your new nature… That means being a Christian is about living in a dramatically different way than the rest of the world. In this world of confusion, pain, and doubt Christians are to SHOW the world that there is a better way to live. We bless the rest of the world when we display the new nature that comes with following Christ Jesus.

As long as we are hanging on to our old vices, no matter how small they might seem to be, we will constantly be frustrated with our relationship with God and the life that we are living because we refuse to abandon the old way of living and accept God new way of life. When we aren’t living the life God created us to live, then we are not able to be the blessing to the world that God intended for us to be.

Please remember that God knows that we cannot change overnight. He knows our weaknesses and our addictions. That is why He is gracious. Grace is all about God giving us the time, the wisdom, and even the strength to change our lives. God wants us to change little by little with each step we take as we follow Jesus.

Take some time and ponder what Erwin McManus wrote in Stand Against the Wind:
“You cannot follow Jesus and remain the same. The journey itself will change you forever—not only your priorities but your passions. It alters not only your direction but your desires. It transforms not only your actions, but your values. It makes you just like Christ and unlike anyone else. It is nothing less than leaving the fake for the real. There is great risk in abandoning the artificial in pursuit of the authentic” (p. 26).

It is time that we abandon the artificial life of sin and addiction and pursue the authentic life of Jesus. Throw off the old way of living and put on a brand new way of life.

  • Point to Ponder: We cannot hope to hang on to our old way of life and still follow Jesus.
  • Questions to Consider: What sins have I hung on to? Why has it been so difficult to give them up? Where can I turn to for help? Do I believe that God will give me strength to overcome these sins?
  • Prayer to Pray: God, my Hope and Savior, I thank You this day for life. With all the ups and downs I have experienced I am still grateful for the fact that You have given me life. I ask today for the strength, the wisdom, and the help I need to get rid of my old way of living and adopt the new way of living as I follow Jesus. Constantly remind me that I am not alone, that You are with me in this process, and that You have forgiven me and are proud of the effort I am making to change my life...


Ruth said...

Thanks, Paul. These are good reminders, and the McManus quote makes a great point. True Christians are different from the rest of the world, and it's true that as we remove ourselves from the world more and more in action, our minds and hearts become less and less attracted and interested in the world.

Paul said...

Ruth, I think these are reminders that we all need. In our culture it is so easy to get sucked into compromising, and so the Church ends up looking no different than from the rest of the world. Thanks for commenting.

Our Identity

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