Colossians 3:5-11 — Put to Death…Really?
I have several good friends who describe themselves as “friends of Bill W”.
You may know what that means. It means they follow the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have tremendous respect for them. I have learned so much about following Jesus from them.
As a disclaimer, I am not an expert on the 12 Steps, but merely an observer of people—people who very intentionally, very seriously, are walking this journey of life.
They are people who understand life is a spiritual process—and they understand the need to put things in their life to death.
In many of my conversations with folks on this journey, I have been noted to say, “You all ‘do church’ better than the church does.”
Before you object, let me unpack that phrase.
AA groups do not own buildings, they do not have paid leaders, they don’t have a ton of the infrastructure the church does. So, on days when all my responsibilities at church would be a bit overwhelming to me as a pastor, I would make that comment.
Now, please notice I said “on days when…”
We all lose our perspective at times, and wish for a simpler life. The reality is our church buildings help us gather to worship God. Our church structures and committees allow us to combine resources and be a force for good. The list goes on. Yet there were days…
So, what do I mean by my comment? I mean that people in AA and other 12-Step groups take how they individually live their lives, their walk of sobriety, very seriously. They fellowship together and practice some of the toughest love I have ever seen. They are not perfect, and perhaps some of you have been hurt by them. However, let me share a stunning statement from one of Bill W’s friends.
I was sitting with a cup of coffee in my hand when my friend said, “Look, this is a spiritual process that only God can do in me. If I get disconnected from God I will drink again. And if I drink again, I will die.”
Let those words linger in your mind for a moment. Consider the opioid situation. This in not hyperbole. These words are not for dramatic effect. The tone of the words communicated that my friend was holding on tightly to God—for their life.
These folks believe putting to death the old self is a matter of life and death. They live this way—to use their phrase—one day at a time.
Do I think my sin is a matter of life and death? Or have I continued to dabble with my sin because I know our God is a God of second chances? Have I lost the understanding that continuing to sin will kill my life here on earth? I am not talking about eternity in heaven. I am talking about the Abundant Life (John 10:10) that Jesus promises us both now and in eternity.
Listen again to the words in this letter: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…” (verse 5) and “But now you must put them all away…” (verse 8).
It is imperative that we kill those things in us which seek to kill us.