“Therefore, you must put to death the bodily members which are of the earth: sexual immorality, unnatural vices, sensual passion, lust, and evil, and also covetousness, which is idolatry—” (Colossians 3:5)
“I speak humanly because of the limitation of your flesh. For just as you offered your bodily members as slaves to unnatural vices and to lawlessness—leading to lawless deeds—now, in the same way, offer your bodily members as slaves to righteousness—leading to holiness.” (Romans 6:19)
“For all of the things in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and arrogant living—is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)
Friends, do not miss the force of this passage. This “therefore” that Paul begins with is a powerful connection of this verse to the things that he has written earlier in this epistle. Essentially, Paul is saying, “because Christ is who he is and because he does what he does, because Jesus is the true wisdom that you seek and because he is the revelation of the Father himself, because Christ has redeemed you to be his own and separated you from the things of the world—thus those things that are part of your life, that are part of the world, need to be put to death—executed, killed, destroyed, obliterated, massacred and all with extreme prejudice.” This is what Paul is conveying when we finally get to this point of the passage.
The reality of our lives is that we are all in a state of transition. We have been made holy, in that God has declared us, as believers, as justified in his sight. We no longer stand before God to be judged on the basis of our own righteousness—something that would earn us nothing but Hell and eternal condemnation—but we stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Christ and judged upon his merits. At the same time, we are being made holy—an act of the Holy Spirit upon our lives which progressively works within us to conform us to the image of Christ—to make us ready for glorification. This process, which we call sanctification, takes time and is worked out from the point of our conversion to the point of our death—preparing us for heaven.
Therefore, as we look to our lives, as we reflect on our persons, we should be at the work of rooting out those things that separate us from God; we should be always seeking to grow in grace so that we may more and more reflect Christ to the world and glorify His name with our lives. And when we speak of the members of our body being put to death, this is the same kind of figurative language that Jesus uses in Matthew 5:29-30. Though sin stems from our hearts and from our minds, it is often played out through our members. Paul and Jesus are both saying that we need to conform our entire beings to the righteousness of God—there is no room for compromise.
Beloved, oftentimes we talk about our response to Jesus in terms of being thankful for what he has done for us. And, this is a wonderful thing. Jesus has done infinitely more for us than we could even dream of doing for ourselves. But, to leave things there is to fall woefully short of the mark. We also worship and praise Christ simply because he is who he is. When we begin to see how beautiful, how delightful, how wonderful, how rich, and how satisfying Christ is, then our worship takes on a whole new character. No longer do we worship with a sense of obligation, but we adore him because there is nothing in the world more pleasant to adore—we cherish him because there is nothing in creation that has a greater value. Oh, beloved, my prayer for you is that you nurture that sense of adoration for our King based on his character. Delight in him for who he is and not just for what he has done for you. How much more satisfying he will become to you, when he is your ultimate delight.
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.