If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:1-11 [ESV]
Call me cruel or sadistic, but I get a certain pleasure out of killing wasps. I’m sure they serve some positive environmental/ecological function. But they kill the caterpillars in our yards that would otherwise become butterflies. Butterflies: who would ever want to kill one of those? Plus the wasps strike terror in our granddaughters whenever they see one while visiting our house. So…wasp…DIE! Maybe you can enlighten me about wasps’ positive contribution to the good of the world.
Sin, on the other hand, is a bit more illusive. The lure of the sinful flesh, and the deceit of Satan conspire with the world’s glitzy appeal. They team up to make sinful choices pleasing to the eye, good for food, and desirable for wisdom (cf. Genesis 3:6). Why not give in? Why not take the bait? Why not let this pet hang out for a while. The bottle of booze that mocks your willpower. The credit card bill too easily hidden from your spouse. The stop on the way home that you can blame on a traffic snarl. The secret bank account that you dip into from time to time. No big deal. You can hang out with them, right?
Wrong. Every forbidden fruit is poisonous. Every juicy bait hides a sharp barb. Every pet demands to be fed. Sometimes you just have to put things to death. You have to shred the credit cards. You have to move the computer out of the out-of-the-way office. You have to tell the guys you won’t be stopping by. You have to kill the sin. You have to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
Some would would have you move into a monastery. Some say abandon all worldly pleasures. But that’s not really a solution. Paul makes that clear (cf. Colossians 2:20-23). These, he says, may have the appearance of godliness, but they don’t really deal with the inner self.
To die to sin is an act of repentance. It’s contrition for the things done wrong, or the things left undone. It’s faith in Jesus’ love and God’s goodness. And it is a daily practice. It’s what Martin Luther offers in his explanation of the significance being baptized with water. He asks, What then is the significance of such a baptism with water? His answer speaks to us today:
It signifies that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.