Colossians 3:5b

Sins of the Flesh



1. Chapter three begins the practical side of Colossians.

a. Chapters 1-2 dealt with our position in Christ: redeemed; reconciled; died with Christ; risen with Him; and seated with Him, hidden with Him now, but soon to be manifested with Him in glory.

b. Then, on the basis of our glorious position, Paul challenges his readers to LIVE like it!

c. The law said, “Walk worthy, and you will be blessed.” Grace says, “You have already been blessed. Therefore, walk worthy!”

2. A knowledge of, and a belief IN our POSITION should have an effect on the CONDITION of our daily lives.

a. SINCE you have been raised with Christ, seek those things which are above!

b. SINCE you died with Christ, mortify the sins of the flesh!

c. Since we are the sons of God… citizens of heaven… certain types of behavior are inappropriate!

d. The first thing Paul tells us to do in this context is to put to death the sexual sins listed here.
• Eph.5:3 – But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.
• Cf. Eph.4:19 – Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

e. He is speaking to the SAINTS in Colossae… such sins are unbecoming a saint of God!

f. Committing these sins of the flesh (which relates to the corruption of the original creation under the first Adam’s curse) is completely inconsistent with our position as heavenly sons of God… who are part of the new creation in Christ, the Second Adam.

Mortify the Sins of the Flesh

A. The Possibility of Sins

1. What an incredible contrast! Paul has described the believer’s position:

a. On the one hand, the believer’s glorious, heavenly position is extolled:
• Redeemed and forgiven! (1:14)
• Indwelt by Christ (Col. 1:27)
• Complete in Him! (2:10)
• All our enemies defeated! (Col. 2:14-15)
• Risen with Christ (3:1)
• A new life hidden with Christ in God (3:4)

b. And yet, on the other hand, to THOSE privileged, blessed, saints, Paul has to warn about committing sexual sins!
• At first glance, from a heavenly position, it might seem unnecessary to warn those indwelt by Christ not to commit fornication… but it IS necessary, because it happens!
• This is a real life issue every one of us has to deal with… every day…
• Vs. 8 – he also has to warn about anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy communication!
• Our privileged position does not exempt us from the battle. It ought to ENGAGE us in the battle between the flesh and the Spirit.
• Being heavenly minded does not mean that we have our head in the clouds and are uninterested on the things of the earth.
• Rather, being heavenly minded should give us a solid, concrete foundational motivation and source of resurrection LIFE for OBEDIENCE down here on earth!

c. From an intellectual, rational, cerebral-only perspective, these commands concerning sexual sins might seem quite unnecessary, but ONLY IF:
• Puffed up in pride and self righteousness.
• We grossly underestimate the vile, hideous nature of our own fallen flesh!

d. Take heed to the lessons Paul learned concerning the frailty of his flesh in Rom. 7:15, 18, 24!
• Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall!
• The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
• Thank God we don’t have to rely on the strength of our flesh. We can rely upon the power of God working IN and THROUGH us to give victory over the flesh.
• The fruit of the Spirit is temperance… self control.

B. The List of Sins to Mortify

1. Fornication

a. Defined: illicit sexual intercourse; illicit sexual acts of a general kind that includes many different types of immoral and unnatural behaviors. It is a broad and general term.

b. I Cor. 5:1 – “such” fornication indicates that fornication is a term broad enough to include a wide range of illicit sexual sins: adultery; incest; homosexuality; bestiality; pedophiles; etc… and any other abominable practice.

2. Uncleanness

a. akatharsia, a + word catharsis or “?cleansing.”

b. Defined: 1a physical. 1b in a moral sense: the filth and impurity of lustful living… associated with a loose lifestyle.

c. Impurity would include impure thoughts AND deeds.

d. II Cor. 12:21 – used in a context of sexual uncleanness or impurity.

e. I Thess. 4:7 – it is the opposite of holiness… purity.

f. Rom. 1:24 – uncleanness is what God gave the gentiles up to through the lusts of their own hearts. It leads to dishonoring the body.

g. Matt. 3:27 – it is the term Jesus used of the inside of a coffin… dead man’s bones and all uncleanness! Rotten, corrupted flesh! That graphic illustration is a picture of what moral uncleanness is like.

h. The term uncleanness is used of moral impurity which excludes man from fellowship with God (opposite a????)
• In the Old Testament the concept of unclean referred to ceremonial uncleanness that excluded Jews from fellowship. It was a picture of the unclean nature of sin… which excludes us from fellowship with God.
• However, Paul does not use it in the sense of ceremonial uncleanness, but of moral uncleanness.
• Moral uncleanness is not ceremonial uncleanness but is GENUINE uncleanness. Ceremonial was the shadow. This is the substance of uncleanness! It excludes man from fellowship with God.

3. Inordinate affection.

a. Sexual perversion, erotic passion; sexual passion; lust.

b. Rom. 1:26 – for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.

c. I Thess. 4:4-5 – know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;? 5?Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.

4. Evil concupiscence.

a. Strong’s: Deep desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.

b. Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament: To greatly desire to do or have something.

c. The term “evil” before it indicates that it is an unrighteous desire.

d. The context indicates that it is an illicit sexual desire.

e. Used in II Tim. 2:22 – flee youthful lusts.

f. Inordinate affection and evil concupiscence are virtually the same.
• They both speak of lust.
• Some have distinguished them this way:
» Inordinate affection are lusts which arise from the body
» Evil concupiscence are lusts which arise from the mind.

5. Covetousness

a. Strong’s: Greedy desire to have more, covetousness.

b. The term itself does not mention anything about the object desired.

c. It can be a strong desire for ANYTHING: sex or material goods.

d. It occurs 10 times in the New Testament and its usage is evenly divided between the two meanings: material goods or sexual pleasure.

e. The context in Col.3:5 seems to indicate that the greedy, insatiable desire is for sex.

f. Ex. 20:17 – “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”

g. The term is used several times in that sense.
• Eph. 4:19 – Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Given to lust to work uncleanness WITH covetousness!)
• Rom. 1:29 – fornication, wickedness, covetousness, (same setting here too!)

h. Our minds and bodies are both influenced by strong desires for sexual pleasure… and more and more. Face it—this is how it is.
• It is a sin that comes at us from two different directions: body and mind… inner man and outer man.
• It is a very real and unrelenting battle each day… to be admitted… and thus to deal with appropriately.
• It is an insatiable desire. Giving in to greed does not satisfy greed. It FEEDS it… and you want more and more!
• Giving in to and committing sexual sin does not satisfy the desire. It FEEDS the desire for MORE!
• The desire for more is insatiable, and marriage is God’s only method of satisfying the desire.

i. Covetousness is idolatry.
• The particular KIND of covetousness here is sexual sin.
• Sexual sin was associated with idolatry in the Old Testament—when the Israelites committed fornication with the women of Moab and bowed down to their idols.
• Covetousness is idolatry in the heart because it in essence worships things that can be seen or felt… down here on earth, as opposed to worshipping God who is invisible… and in heaven.
• Coveting ANYTHING could be idolatry!
• Eph. 5:3-5 – Paul seems to equate fornication and uncleanness with covetousness… greediness. And then he connects this kind of covetousness to idolatry… as he does in Col. 3:5
• Sex can be an idol. It can be virtually worshipped as god, instead of the Father. It can be given preeminence over Christ. It can be filled with lust instead of the Holy Spirit.

Our Responsibility to Mortify the Deeds of the Flesh

1. These sins are to be put to death.

a. Mortify your members which are upon the earth… (vs. 5a)
• Mortify means to put to death. Serious language.

b. There is no justification for such lust.
• Don’t assume that because you did not commit the ACT of fornication, that a little lust is therefore OK… as long as you don’t hurt anybody.
• It is not OK. It is sin!
• Jesus equates lust with the act itself… it is the same sin! (Matt. 5:28)

c. There is to be no coddling or pampering of lustful thoughts and feelings.

d. We are not told to keep lust under control. We are commanded to put it to death.
• Putting to death is a much more serious method of dealing with lust than controlling it.
• Controlling implies that it is tolerated up to a certain level; it just needs to be kept under control.

e. Death means zero tolerance for such sins.

f. We are to put to death the ACTION of fornication.

2. Get to the root of the problem.

a. Matt. 5:27-29 – Jesus taught that we are to get to the root of the problem… hyperbole. Bodily mutilation was NOT His intent.

b. The root of the problem of lust is not the eyeball. It is the heart… the mind. Blind men can still lust in their hearts!
• Matt. 15:19 – evil thoughts… adultery… fornication come from the heart.
• Gal. 5:19 – fornication and lust are the works of the flesh… the fleshly nature… our old sin nature.
• Thus, to deal with the sins of the flesh, we have to go to the ROOT of the problem: our hearts and minds.

c. II Cor. 10:3-5 – Here Paul is speaking about the philosophies and teachings that can enslave a believer’s mind.
• Paul sees EVERY attack of the adversary as a spiritual attack…
• It might APPEAR to be a battle with the flesh, but in reality, it is a spiritual battle.
• Since it IS a spiritual battle, warring after the flesh would be futile.
• The world has come up with all kinds of earthly, carnal methods of dealing with sexual sins: from lobotomies, to drugs and medication, to psychological therapies, to castration!
• That is not God’s plan. God’s weapons are not earthly or carnal, but mighty and spiritual.
• In fighting against the false teachers, Paul told his readers NOT to attack the people personally, but to fight the battle in your own MIND and HEART!
• Cast down imaginations… deal with your own mind… don’t allow those foreign thoughts to fill you mind. Cast them out! Put them to death!
• And then fill your mind with truth.
• The same is true in dealing with the sins of the flesh. They too begin in the mind and heart.
• To properly deal with these issues, get to the ROOT of the problem: cast out those imaginations which LEAD to lust… which leads to immoral DEEDS.

d. We are to put to death the state of mind and attitudes that LEAD to the act.
• The way to deal with the act of sexual sin is to first deal with the mind and heart before it boils over into action.
• And the easiest way to deal with those thoughts and feelings is to nip it at the bud!
• Prov. 17:14 – Solomon gives us an illustration of how to deal with feelings that easily get out of control.
» He is speaking about anger and strife…
» However, lust works the same way.
» They are both works of the flesh… that begin small and if left unchecked can become overwhelming and overpowering… quickly rage out of control, and leave us virtually helpless!
» Solomon illustrates how if there is a crack in the dam, it is easily plugged up if dealt with immediately.
» If the crack is ignored and water is allowed to trickle out… soon it will be flowing out… then it will break open the dam and it will never be stopped! There is a point of no return.
» That’s Solomon’s point. Nip such feelings, emotions, and desires at the bud BEFORE they get out of control… when they are ABLE to be dealt with.
» Deal with the ROOT of the problem immediately!
» Cast out those imaginations… which stir up lust… which leads to fornication.
» Don’t allow those thoughts and feelings to fester and take root. It’s easy to pull out a tiny sapling. It’s virtually impossible to pull out a full grown oak tree.

e. Solomon gives another helpful illustration in dealing with the sin of lust.
• Prov. 6:25-29 – Pampering lustful thoughts and thinking we can handle it is like putting burning embers of coals in our clothing and thinking it won’t burn us! It WILL!
• The man that takes fire in his bosom and discovers that his clothes are burning would be a fool to hold on to the coals and at the same time, try to extinguish the fire!
• First get to the ROOT of the source! Get rid of the coals… then you can put out the burning clothes.
• Rather than constantly dealing with the outward sin of adultery or fornication, deal with the issue of your heart!
• If your sink was left on and running over onto the floor, FIRST you turn off the water… then clean up the floor.
• Deal with the ROOT of the lust… rather than its FRUIT… the external sins.
• Prov. 4:23 -?Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

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