Friday, 19 September 2014
Colossians 3:5-14 Review: Kill that cockroach!
Yes, we talked about cockroaches today at Bible study. Fortunately, we didn’t see any.
What’s your instinctive reaction to seeing one of these little brown guys scurry across your kitchen floor as you turn on the lights? Ooh! He’s so cute. I think I’ll catch him and put him in a little cage by my bed so I can see him last thing at night and first thing in the morning!
Not on your life. If you’re like me, a screamer, you let out a decent sized yelp and stomp on him. Repeatedly. I find the yelp makes the stomp more effective. Then you wipe him up and flush him. Just in case…we’ve all heard the urban myths about cockroaches who refuse to die.
Why we should kill that cockroach. My visceral reaction to a cockroach is a great clue to how I should react to remaining sin in my life. It’s filthy, ugly, disgusting. The “new me” recoils in disgust. The “new me” acts quickly, instinctively. Kill it! Quick! Before it scurries back into its dark corner and hides again!
Paul gives us two lists of sins to help us get specific. The first group are sins of “love gone wrong,” loving the wrong thing, or loving the right thing too much:
- sexual immorality
- evil desires
- covetousness (greed), which is idolatry
The second group are sins against love. These are thinly disguised hatred, which lead to words or actions that murder:
- abusive language
Finally Paul adds one more sin that deserves its own billing. Lying. All types of lies are included in this word: white lies, deception, a mixture of lies and truth, partial truth, and withholding truth.
I agree with these lists theoretically, but recently they became very shockingly applicable. I was tempted to fierce anger against someone. Now anger can feel good in the short run. Justifiable. We can hold it close to us and cherish it. I have done that in the past.
But this passage, which I had been studying, informed a different response. Don’t give that thing time to grow or hide! Kill it, quick!
Why we can kill the cockroach. God would be cruel to ask us to do something we aren’t able to do. He only asks us because we can. Here’s what Paul says after naming the eleven:
…seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:9-10
It’s because I am once and for all a new person that I can recognize, react, and kill sins of the flesh. These verses point to that truth.
I find these verses a little confusing, though. It sounds like I did it, “you have put off…and have put on.” But I thought God did it. How do I make sense of that?
Commentators say this is the language of baptism. In the early church, a believer would remove his old clothes, step down in to the water saying “I died with Christ”, climb up the other side saying “I’m raised with Christ,” and then put on a white tunic. He undressed and dressed himself during this one time ritual to represent the invisible spiritual work that God had already done in him in Christ.
The new me was created by God on the day I believed the gospel. The new me is being transformed by God today, as I stomp that nasty sin roach.
Why did he leave us with such a dirty job? There are many reasons God leaves us on earth with indwelling sin instead of taking us directly to heaven. But here’s one I’ve experienced recently. When I fight sin, I’m not alone. I’m with Christ. I was with him in death, with him in resurrection, and now my life is hidden with him in God.
So when I see something ugly in my life, recognize it as sin, and gather up my strength to stomp on it, I’m still with Him. I experience unity with him in that moment on my personal battlefield. He is my comrade. He gives me courage. We unite against a common enemy.
They say there are no closer friends than the ones who fight a war together. That’s how close I get to be with Jesus every time I fight sin.