Lesson 22

Paul's Letter to the Colossians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 3:6 for which things' sake the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience. 3:7 You also once walked in those, when you lived in them; 3:8 but now you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth.

Today's Lesson 

In Yesterday's Lesson we discussed how Paul wrote to the Colossians and told them that they had died and their life was now hidden with Christ in God. This takes place when we put our trust and faith in Jesus Christ. We are baptized into the death of Christ and raised to a new life of service to God. Earlier Paul had told them that false humility and self-imposed worship has no power to restrain the flesh. In Today's Scripture, Paul instructs us that a proper understanding of our death and resurrection in Christ has the power to restrain the flesh that the all of our efforts lack.


Paul tells the Colossians to, "Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry." The sin in our lives has power over us for as long as it is alive. In that case, Paul says to put it to death. He tells them to put to death the sins of the flesh in the same context in which he has just written in verses 3-4 that they died with Christ and Christ is now their life. The kind of death that the Colossians experienced at salvation is the same kind of death that Paul is demanding of the flesh. So, we must ask ourselves, what kind of death is Paul speaking about?


Obviously each believer does not die physically with Christ. Christ died on the cross almost 2000 years ago, so physical death must be ruled out. Nor can we just blankly say that Paul means that we died a spiritual death with Christ. After all, the Spirit of Christ is eternal. At death, the spirit of man does not cease to exist. There is another kind or type of death that is mentioned many times in scripture that is the kind of death that Paul is referring to, however. To understand this death, we must first remember some elements of God's history with His people.


Under the ancient system of sacrifice that was instituted at the Law of Moses, animals were slain to atone for the sins of the people. When the people brought guilt offerings to the temple, they were required to bring only the best of their own flocks or to purchase an animal without blemish. Before the sacrifice, the man who had provided the animal was required to lay his hands on the animal. The idea of the laying on of hands in this instance was to symbolically transfer the guilt or the sin of the man to the animal. Then the animal, which had been without guilt was sacrificed for the sins of the man, who was guilty. In this way the animal was sacrificed as a substitute for the man. Sin was judged and the penalty was death. So, God provided a substitute death that atoned for the sins of the man.


In the same way, Jesus Christ died as a substitute for our sins. In every gospel that was written of His life, when Jesus is revealed at His baptism, it is declared, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." Jesus Christ died physically as a substitute for our sins. I can accept forgiveness and reconciliation from God by placing by faith and trust in the substitutionary death of Christ, in effect, by placing my hands on Him and transferring my guilt to Him.


This death and the understanding of what Christ has done is our real power over sin in our lives. When Paul tells the Colossians to put to death the sins of their flesh, he means for them to lay their sins and their guilt on Jesus Christ and to believe that He died for those sins. It means to bury our sins with Christ and to reckon them dead with Him. Only death can truly destroy the power of sin. He who has died has been released from the power of sin, death and the law.


Are you firmly convinced in your own mind that you have died with Christ? Do you believe that your sin died with Him and no longer has any power in your life? Are you ready to live a new life of power and service to God, through Christ?


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