In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul commands us:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (v. 5)
His list should not be seen as exhaustive, but rather suggestive. There are many other things that could be included in this list – things which are mentioned in many other passages throughout the Old and New Testaments.
But while Paul’s list here may not be complete, his message is clear: “Put your sin to death!”
For those who cling to the notion that once we are secured in the grace of Jesus that we have little or no need to give serious and ongoing thought to our sin and the lingering effects it has upon us – that all we need to do is look at the positives of the promises of the gospel – Paul’s words provide a much needed corrective.
Certainly, the promises of the gospel give us a tremendous status. But there is still much to be done; much we need to be doing. The gospel gives us the confidence that no matter what we may find when we look deep into the recesses of our own hearts, we will never be forsaken. Whatever we may find in the dark and dank depths of our souls, it is no surprise to God. He already knows. And he is the one who is encouraging us to take a look for ourselves. God, our Father, does this with the reassuring promise that no matter what we find he will not love us any less.
Still, easier said than done.
I appreciate the work Jonathan Dodson has done to develop the concept of Fight Clubs to help us put our sin to death. Dodson bases Fight Clubs on three essential principles:
1. Know Your Sin
Look for the sinful patterns in your life and trace them to the “identity of the moment” that you are looking to for worth and/or meaning (good person, faithful parent, creative artist, successful entrepreneur, etc.). For instance, your sin could be sulking and your false identity could be victim…
2. Fight Your Sin
Once you know your sin/identity issue, you can begin to fight it.
There are two primary ways God calls us to fight our sin.
First, confess your sin to God and ask for his forgiveness for your God-belittling desires and decisions. (1 John 1.9) Follow your confession to God with confession to community so you can experience healing and encouragement of the church. (James 5.16)
Second, encourage one another to take sin seriously, to “put sin to death”. (Romans 8.13 & Colossians 3.5) Don’t let identity-twisting sin just roll off your back. Get tenacious about glorifying and enjoying God!
In short, you could summarize it this way:
- Confess your sin (to God and one another)
- Get serious about fighting for true joy
3. Trust Your Savior
Trusting our Savior for gospel identity instead of an identity-of-the-moment is the most difficult and important part of being a disciple.
Robert Murray McCheyene said:
“For every look at sin, look ten times at Christ.”
How does Christ offer you a better identity than the false identity?
If my sin was sulking and my identity was victim, 2 Peter 1.3 reminds me that my identity is godly, a partaker of the divine nature. I was sulking in ungodliness because I thought I deserved better circumstances. I felt weak. Peter reminds us that we have “divine power granted to us for life and godliness.”
This scripture reminded me of my identity — godly — but it does not stop there.
It also offers us a Savior to trust, a counter-promise of divine power necessary to live a godly life, not a sulking life. What a relief! Our identity is godly, and our promise is divine power!
So, again, in short:
- Find your Gospel counter-Identity
- Trust your Biblical Promise