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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 it’s 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 wasn’t 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.


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!


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 don’t like it, but it is necessary! Paul groups our sins into 2 groups.

1. v. 5 The Sensual Sins – Appealing to the senses. The sins of pleasure!

a. Fornication – Sexual impurity – of any kind!

b. Uncleanness – A life of impurity, fueled by improper motives.

c. Inordinate Affection – Depraved passions. A mind that dwells on sin. Ill. Usually easily satisfied as the mind always concocts ways to satisfy the flesh! (Ill. The Physical aspect of c. and d.)

d. Evil Concupisence – A lust for the sinful. (Ill. The Mental Aspect of c. and d.)

e. Covetousness – The sin of always wanting more, Heb. 13:6. Ill. Akin to idolatry!

2. v. 8-9 The Social Sins – Related to our dealing with others. We often try to rationalize and justify ourselves in these sins, but they are still wicked and defiling.

a. Anger – Sudden outbursts. Needs to be given to Jesus.

b. Wrath – Refers to God’s judgment on sin. This is the sin of playing God and passing judgment on others. Ill. That’s not our place. We are called to bear fruit, not inspect it!

c. Malice – Ill will toward another, includes a desire to injure and get revenge – Rom. 12:9.

d. Blasphemy – Speech which slanders another – either God or man. Ill. Most common form is gossip. When you attack God’s greatest work, man, you are in essence attacking God Himself.

e. Filthy Communications – Foul speech, course humor, obscene gestures.

f. Lying – Anything less that the absolute truth. When we lie, we have joined hands with the devil – John 8:44.

3. v. 6 These very things cause the lost to be under God’s wrath, John 3:36. The only difference between them and us is the grace of God manifested through the blood of Jesus. If you are saved and are living in sin, you will not get away with it! You will either repent or you will face chastisement – Heb. 12:5-11.

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.


(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.

1. v. 12b The Fruit Of The Spirit – The new life, energized and led by God will always manifest the proof of the Spirit’s presence – Gal. 5:19-25. (Ill. Show itself in every area of life!)

2. v. 13 The Forgiveness Of The Saints – When Christ reigns in the heart, there will be no room for grudges or grievances, but only for forgiveness – Matt. 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-5.

3. v. 14 The Fragrance Of The Savior – When we are walking in the newness of life, we will have the fragrance of Christ in our lives, and that fragrance is love – John 13:35! The life controlled by the Lord is a life of love.

4. v. 15 The Fullness Of The Spiritual Life – The fullness of the Spirit demonstrates Himself in peace and assurance before God, (Ill. Salvation, and the assurance of it, is forever settled – 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:10.); and between brethren, (Ill. Euodias and Syntyche – Phil. 4:2.) Also manifested in a thankful Spirit before the Lord – 1 Thes. 5:18.

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.

1. A New Dependence Upon The Word (Ill. "Dwell richly" = To inhabit in abundance and to be at home in.  Chrisatians dare not be strangers to the Bible.)  The Word cannot get into you until you first get into it! When it gets in you, it will control you.

2. A New Declaration Of The Word – Ill. "Admonish" – To instruct and warn of evil. The saints of God are to have a heart for their wayward brother – Ill. Gal. 6:1- Restore – To set a broken bone!

3. A New Demonstration Before The World – Ill. A heart of praise will fill the believer when the new man is in control.

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!


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