Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Knowing that our minds should be set on the things of Heaven where Christ is, Paul encourages the believers to put off the former things – those behaviors and characteristics that are associated with the former life.
So many people get caught up in the “rule-keeping” aspect of Christianity. In many ways, it’s not about the rules, it’s about the attitudes of your heart. Like the laws of the Universe, the way we choose to be influenced (i.e. reading and obeying the word of God), determines our behavior.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5
Yes, a Christian should not fornicate or covet but those behaviors would be cut off much sooner if the attitudes that precipitate the actions are cut off.
In Romans, he tells us to put to death the deeds of the flesh. How? By the Spirit.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13
And yet, though our default (flesh) is to act out in “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,” we know that we have been “raised with Christ” (3:1) and, therefore, are a new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Living as a new creation is, in many ways, the Heavenly Two-Step.
The one step for us is to make a conscious decision (act of the will) to obey. The second step is to allow the Holy Spirit to supernaturally work in and through us.
This process (sanctification) is much like the petrification process. An organic (living) material like a piece of wood immersed in a stream has only to be in the water and allow the water (Holy Spirit, Word of God) to flow through it. Over time, the organic (flesh) materials will be replaced by minerals in the water – making it strong, like a rock.
Don’t be put off by the rules of Christianity; put off your old man and let it all happen (super)naturally.
Questions for Further Thought:
- What is your impression of this passage?
- Do you avoid rules just because they are rules? Do you ever think they exist to protect us?
- Further Study: I encourage you to look up the following verses from which the text is based.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.