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Col. 3:1-17 IS THE OLD MAN DEAD?
Intro: Ill. Joseph Stalin and his collapse before parliament. Some, believing him to be dead, began to shout and to rejoice, congratulating one another over the apparent death of the evil dictator. Stalin, however, was far from dead and many of those who rejoiced paid with their lives. As I considered that, I began to realize that the Christian life is similar.
When we come into this world, we are born into a sinful fleshly body. A body controlled by the world, the devil and its own lusts, Eph. 2:1-3; James 1:14. Then, one day, you come to Jesus for salvation! Do you remember the glory of that moment? The joy of that incredible feeling? It felt as though all the old, sinful ways were gone forever. It felt like the world was brand new, especially for you! It felt so good, and oh, how your heart rejoiced. It wasnt long, however, until it began to dawn on you that the old nature was still active. Perhaps you found yourself being drawn back to some of your old ways. You found that now, there was a spiritual struggle going on inside you, Gal. 5:17. It was at that moment that you realized that life was going to be a struggle.
It is this struggle which Paul is writing about here. In these verses, he gives us some ammunition to fight this battle. He lays out some principles that, if followed, will help us live the right kind of life before God and the world. Paul is telling us how to gain the victory over the old man.
I. v. 1-4 THE CHANGE OF THE NEW LIFE
A. v. 1-2 New Heavenly Desires Affections That which the mind is set on; or that which we side with. When we get saved, we are changed and ought to set our hearts on the things which glorify God -1 Cor. 10:31. We are to be motivated by the heavenly, and not the earthly. What motivates your life? (Ill. Like the needle of a compass always points North, so should the Christian always be drawn by a Heavenly pull.)
B. v. 3a A New Heavenly Deliverance When we came to Jesus for salvation, we died! More than that, when He died on the cross, we died in Him Rom. 6:6. The old man of sin, our old nature died at Calvary! Therefore, we have been liberated from sin and are no longer slaves to sin Rom. 6:7. (Ill. The old nature seems very much alive! It is! It has only been reckoned dead. In the mind of God, it died.
However, we still have to live with it every day. We are to battle it and not give in to it. But, it is dead even while it lives! Praise God, the day is coming when the old man will both be reckoned dead and literally dead 1 Cor. 15:51-54!
C. v. 3b-4 A New Heavenly Destiny Right now, we are in Jesus Eph. 2:6. Eternally saved and possessing eternal life! One day, soon, we will be with Him in glory. At that day, we will be like Him 1 John 3:1-2. Thank God, the child of God is as sure for Heaven as if he were already there Rom. 8:30!
D. These truths, alone, ought to be enough to make the child of God live for Christ 1 John 3:3!
II. v. 5-11 THE CHALLENGES OF THE NEW LIFE
A. v. 5a A Challenge To Be Negative (Ill. Mortify To put to death Ill. Mortician, mortuary.) This sounds negative, but often a negative response to something is the only valid one. (Ill. Surgery to remove a ruptured appendix, extracting a broken tooth, weeding a garden.) God is saying that a part of ourselves needs to be out to death and that we have been elected to do the killing!
B. v. 5b-9 A Challenge To Our Nature Paul names the activities that need to be put to death. Ill. Naming sin People dont like it, but it is necessary! Paul groups our sins into 2 groups.
C. 9b-11 A Challenge To Be New The Christian is called to put off, literally, cast away from oneself, the characteristics of oneself. We are to do this by whatever means necessary Ill. Joseph Gen. 39; Ill. Matt. 5:29-30. We must flee evil in our lives.
III. v.12-17 THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NEW LIFE
(Ill. While the above activities and mindsets are characteristic of the world, the following are evidence of salvation. Sadly, in many Christian lives, these things are the exception and not the rule!)
A. v. 12-15 Characterized By New Deeds (Ill. Put off "once for all"; Put on "Once for all" Here are the new deeds of the new life.
B. v. 16 Characterized By A New Direction It is no more the flesh, the world and the devil for the believer. Now, it is the will and Word of God.
C. v. 17 Characterized By New Decisions No longer are we interested in pleasing the flesh, but every decision is based on whether or not it brings glory to the Lord. Such is the life controlled by the new man.
Conc: Is the old man dead in your life? If not, it will show up on you! (Ill. Ancient Roman custom of forcing a murderer to wear the corpse of his victim.) Death ate into him and drained him of life. So it is with us. Who controls your life? The flesh? The world? The devil? Or, is it the Spirit of God? If the wrong one is in control, your life will be out of control and less than pleasing to the Lord. But, praise His Name! He allows for new beginnings!