During this week, Time With God will break from its regular format to explore selected passages to prepare our hearts for the coming New Year.
Dallas Willard once said that, “Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning.” We can never do anything to earn the love or forgiveness of God. Our efforts to walk in purity and holiness are always a mere response to the love of God already received and the forgiveness already given.
- What are some areas of your life that take discipline or effort to obey God, or to do what you know is right?
READ THE WORD: COLOSSIANS 3:1-11 (ESV)
3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
RESPOND TO GOD
I once had an old sweatshirt my wife really disliked. It was in fine shape and fit me well, but she thought its bright red color next to my shock of white hair made me look like Santa Claus. One day I took it off and never wore it again. I didn’t do it in an attempt to make my wife like me. No, I put off the old sweatshirt merely to please the person who already loved me and had shown me that nothing could ever change that.
Now, by faith, I have already been raised with Jesus. I was once an enemy and now a friend of God, once an orphan and now a child of God, and once lost and hopeless and now destined for glory with Christ. If I love Jesus, the natural thing to do is to put off and put to death those things that are not consistent with the love and character of Christ. It is a decision to choose Jesus, who has already chosen me. And while it is the only right choice, it is not always an easy one. Old sins and lingering habits are harder to put off than an old sweatshirt. Most of the time we cannot simply put old sins in the closet and ignore them. We must put them to death, lest we run back to them for comfort or for the thrill of old times. It takes some effort. It takes some help. It takes some purposeful decisions.
For Reflection and Prayer:
- Read through the list of things that Paul charged us to put off and put to death. Pick one or two of the items that jump out as a struggle for you last year.
- What would it look like, practically, to “put to death” these sins in the new year?
- What help do you need from your family, your friends, or your church?
- What is the one step you will take today toward change in your life?
- What are the things that might motivate you to change in this area?
- Confess to God these areas of struggle. He already knows, of course. But being honest and open with God is important to having an intimate relationship with him.
- Spend some time thanking God that his forgiveness cannot be earned.
- Pray that God would increase your desire to please him and to live in purity as a result of the love that he has already made available to you in Christ.