Death is a mysterious thing. We fail to understand it because we fear it. It is often difficult to even attempt to understand those things we fear. Paul was good at using death as a metaphor and in the third chapter of Colossians speaks of our sins being put to death in our lives. He says we should find ourselves dead to the things of the world and alive to those things heavenly. Verse three says. “For you died and your life is hidden in Christ with God.”
That’s very poetic, but it is much, much more important than the poetry that is found here. You died. Do you remember doing that? Do you remember having a death experience? If you don’t then you might want to arrange one. You see dead men (and women too) don’t do a lot. They just kind of lay there and ignore everything that’s around them. When Paul says in verse 5 to put to death your members…..well let’s look at it ;
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (NIV)
Let me make something perfectly clear. When something is dead, it doesn’t get back up again. The skunk we run over in the road isn’t going to rise to smell again. His smelliness is done. The stink may hang around for a couple of days so that we can remember what that nasty thing smelled like, but he will never be able to stink up the joint again. Just as once our sin is finally put down, if it is killed properly, it will not rise again to torture us, to enslave us to bind us any more. But it must be put down properly, and there is a proper way. OK, do you remember a few minutes ago when I spoke about appearing with Christ in glory? Well that isn’t just speaking of when we pass to the next life. It is referring to the moment when we ……go and sin no more, when Christ finally overcomes that sin in our lives.
Look again at verse 3. I said it was poetic…….but much more. It says your life is no more….it is gone and that life that was, that force of life known as your spirit, your soul, is now covered up and all that is visible is Christ. In other words, He died so we might live in Him and now we have died so that He might live in us.
When He appears in this manner then it is His glory that not only we see, but everyone who sees us will see as well. The world sees us in the flesh, but our spirit has undergone a pretty dramatic makeover. And believe it or not, it is possible to make sure that it is our spirit that controls our behavior. When our spirit submits to the Spirit of God, there is no comparison to the way we were. If we have died to sexual impurity, then we won’t be able to reach out and resurrect that impurity whenever we desire. Dead men don’t get up and get themselves anything. They just lie there. If we have died to evil desires, we just plain don’t want them anymore. The temptations are not entertained, although they may be present. For example, I want you to try this experiment the next time you’re at a funeral, in fact I invite all of you to do this at my funeral.
I love chocolate. It’s really good stuff. So when I die, I want you to go up to me and pass a chocolate Hershey bar under my nose. See if I open up my eyes and reach for it. If I do, I may have died, but not to Hershey bars. If you have died to something you don’t want it anymore. So let’s review:
I want you to think about something with which you may have a problem. We all have something that gives us more of a problem than other things. For purposes of illustration, I’ll choose anger. If you have anger, and the bible says that is not a good thing, you want to die to that anger. Jesus equated anger with murder. So we know that anger is in the top ten as far as sin goes. But pick any sin you want. In fact just go through the ten commandments and more than likely you will discover one or two that fit you well. Don’t tell anyone else. This is a completely personal exercise. But take a moment and consider that thing that troubles you most.
Now, close your eyes and picture yourself without that particular thing in your life. If yours was anger, then picture yourself experiencing something that makes you angry. And then don’t get angry. The little pet peeves that cause your blood pressure to rise, like someone cutting you off in traffic, and you don’t react, there is no anger. Picture a perfect peace even when that happens. We can perform this exercise with any sin at all. Imagine you are dead to it.
Whatever your situation is, you can do this exercise and through it, you will discover yourself without that thing in your life. You have run into truth by confronting your sin, realizing that it is there and you have seen yourself without it in your life and the truth is that you have been set free. Will this be easy? Definitely not, but it will be a step in eliminating from your life the thing that has you chained. It will take much prayer, meditation and perhaps even fasting and more prayer. But when we envision ourselves and see the end of what we envision, we can learn to become what we have seen.
What ever we do in life, it is important to see the end of it, usually before we even begin. It is one of the gifts God has given man, the gift of imagination. If we do not employ it, we will lose it, and I can safely say that there has been no invention ever invented without the use of that particular gift.
Knowing that, why should our lives be any different? When we set goals for the rest of our lives, we need to imagine ourselves in the position of that goal accomplished. And then work backwards from that point in your mind; build a deck, finish a report, make a quilt, sing a song and on and on and on…
Almost everything we do, we see finished prior to having begun. Why is it not possible to do that with our own lives? When we sit in church and we focus on God and look to Him in prayer and worship, we see ourselves standing before Him or lying prostrate on our faces before Him and when we see ourselves meeting Him for the first time, we all envision Him looking into our eyes and smiling and saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” None of us imagines Him looking at us with a questioning look and saying, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
We need to think of the first imagining where He says well done and work back from that moment. If we fill our lives with the things of God and truly do die to the things of the flesh then we will all have the opportunity to leap for joy!