“You have died… put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” Colossians 3: 3, 5
There are different ways to die, but the result of each is the same: a lifeless heart.
Christians have a new way to die. We put to death the sin that is lurking in our hearts because we have been included in the death of Christ who died for our sins. This is at the heart of the Christian gospel and of discipleship.
The good news is that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our life. By faith in him, we are united to his death and resurrection. In him, we have died to sin’s curse and power over us. We, too, have been raised up as new people to live a new life for his glory.
As disciples we actively put sin to death. Sin remains within the heart because we are not yet conformed to Christ’s character. We are on our way to conformity to him, but not yet there. To get there, we daily see the sinful attitudes within and we actively put them to death. We resist them, telling them that they no longer rule within us and that their demise is sure. We deny them the opportunity to express themselves as we pray prayers of confession and repentance.
This new way to die is not a stand-alone experience of Christian discipleship. Our dying to sin is always connected to our being alive to Christ. We slay sin by the power of love for Christ and the qualities of heart that express his life in us. Our dying to inglorious sin is for a life of glorifying Christ who lives in us.
The Christian’s new way to die does not lead to a lifeless heart, but life in the heart. From a heart where sin is dying comes the life of Christ that spreads to others. Love and joy live there so anger and wrath have no place. Purity and service move in so impurity and selfish desire have to go.
When we sense the lurking sin in the heart being provoked by everyday events, encounters, and conversations, we have the ability by the power of the Holy Spirit to put it to death. We are able to think about the life of Christ and the qualities that express his life in us. As we put one life to death by denying it power in us, we are submitting to another life within us. This life is Christ’s, our hope of glory.
Let’s encourage each other to keep watch over our hearts in this way. Let’s not assume that becoming a Christian automatically takes care of the lurking sin in the heart. Yes, we are forgiven of our sin and dead to its guilt and condemnation. But, sin still needs to be put to death because it seeks to live in us. Let us be active in killing sin at the level of thoughts, attitudes, and desires. And let us remember that the great end of this new way of dying is so that the life of Christ may reign in us and be made known through us.
Pray about these things this weekend. We will take them up on Sunday as we worship Christ who is our life.