The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now, you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, enslaved person or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:5–11 NIV11-GKE)

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is the title of one of Clift Eastwood’s famous films. It is a classic, and it falls within the genre of spaghetti Westerns. Here in Colossians chapter 3, we have the ugliness of sin, the badness of wrong actions and the good redeeming work of Christ.

Chapter Three is critical!
We are told to:

  1. To Seek the things that are above
  2. To set our minds on things that are above

What is above? Is that a place? If that is a place, who is there?
We are told that Christ is above, and he is seated at the right hand of God, which is another picture of Heaven.

Heaven, do you have a picture of Heaven?

Heaven is described here as the place where we need to set our minds and hearts, and we are so encouraged to seek Heaven, the very place where God dwells and where Christ is seated as King and Lord of the Church.

We are urged to move from the earthly things, from teaching that is self-flesh gratifying but lacking eternal purpose.

So here, from verses 5 to 11, we are now encouraged to:

“Put to death” v. 5
“Put them away” v. 8
“Put off” v. 9

The first three are to do with the earthly mindset!

Put to death
We have a list, just like Galatians 5, the fruit of the flesh, of the earthly mindset.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, division, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. As I warned you before, I warn you that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21 ESV)

So here in Colossians, we are urged and encouraged to:
We are to put sexual immorality, impurity, passions, evil desires, and covetousness to death.

Now, I want you to know that I believe that these earthly mindsets are forms of IDOLATRY.

Idolatry is misplaced worship.

Now, on account of the activity and increase of what Paul describes as the early mindset, the wrath of God is coming!

Now, that is a sobering thought, something that we don’t hear much! The anger, the consuming wrath of God. God is Holy, set apart.

Put them Away
We are to put them away, verse 8!
What do we need to put away! Paul here gives us another list of the active earthly mindset.
Our mouths have anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk!

This, I believe, is the vocal expression of IDOLATRY
The Bible describes Idolatry as REBELLION AND WITCHCRAFT.

So, what we have here is an expression of misplaced worship, which is an act of the earthly way of thinking, which Paul says in verse 7, “In these, you too once walked when you were living in them”.

Perhaps there is right now a no better example of Will slapping Chris! They are both wrong – they both represent an earthly mindset.

A picture call tells a thousand words!

We are then urged to Put it off.

Paul says: “`please don’t lie to one another”, – Which is another way of saying to become like your father, the devil, who is the father of lies.

It is a great word to describe our earthly make-up. The self is us; in the self, we find our identity. In the self, also now as the Soul, which is unique to us and where the drive for life is found, this can lay dormant or death to the reality of a heavenly mindset.

The self is aware of the spiritual world and religion. But it is death to the Heavenly Reality, or the Realm of Heaven, the very place where God dwells and where Christ is seated at the right hand.

The practices of the Old Self always lead to misplaced worship, which is idolatry.

However, verses 10-11 invite us to see another reality. A reality that belongs to the sons and daughters of God.

But verses 10 and 11 have to do with our heavenly mindset.
“Put on” v. 10
“and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, an enslaved person, free, but Christ is all, and in all.”
(Colossians 3:10–11 ESV)

We are to put the New Self!

The new self is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator! This is a fascinating observation!

I believe Paul is stating the obvious:

  1. You cannot be renewed if you have not experienced the presence and power of God’s Holy Spirit – This is what Jesus meant when he said, “You must be born again from the Spirit”, in John 3.
  2. Knowledge is the self-revelation of God to us, and he has revealed himself in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. We find that revelation in the Gospel. – Paul says this in Col 2:13 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross”.
  3. Paul says that we are renewed in knowledge after the IMAGE of its creator. What does this mean? I don’t have much time to get into this because this is the language of Genesis; also, our creator is Spirit, and we were and are created in his image. However, we do have a vision, and that is Christ. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
    (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

In this image, the Son of God, Jesus, where our identity is found, we were created in Christ Jesus. In him, we are free, and he is all. In him, there are no divisions of race, class and language. There are no barriers to religion in him, and in him, we don’t find an earthly mindset but a heavenly one.

I asked you before what your image of Heaven is? – Do you have one? Do you place your heart and mind and wear your heavenly garments, clothing, and mantel? Is your image of Heaven transforming your everyday thinking?

Let us pray!

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