MORTIFY THE FLESH
Text: Col. 3:5.
As Christian we are to be in the world and not of the world. We are expected to be different from the world, in views and practices. In the Apostolic teachings we are not to conform to the patterns of the world but to be transformed through the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:1&3)
St. Paul in our text, Col.3:5 which reads: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry” enjoins the Colossians to put to death or mortify various vices which indicates the old humanity. (The state we were before coming to Christ) Christ has given to every Christian a new identity and he/she is expected to walk fit to his /her new identity in Christ. To Paul, the Colossians now belong to a new race, by virtue of their being redeemed and reconciled to God through Christ, they were God’s Chosen people, holy and dearly loved (Eph. 5:1 & Rom. 1:7), thereby constituted a new humanity and became part of the new Israel.
This privileged spiritual standing before God entails ethical responsibilities. They were not to be like other people but as people of God and be holy as God is holy. One of the obstacles in living the required and desired Christian life is the flesh which if not tamed and controlled can lead one away from Christ and subtly lead one to eternal damnation.
Flesh as used in the New Testament by Paul refers to bodily and emotional desires which always bring about difficulty in ones Christian life and make one a prisoner of sin. The deeds of the flesh manifest itself in: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, disputes, dissensions factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these. (Galatians 5:19-21). Flesh is also the wholeness of man, body, soul, reason and all man’s faculties which most of the time run contrary to God and the things of the spirit (Gal. 5:17).
Giving the flesh a hold upon our lives will bring separation between us and God, makes Christian live impossible; attracts death; bring about sickness, sorrow and pains; and invites the wrath of God (Rom. 6:2, Gal. 6:7-8; Col 3:6, Rom. 8:13).
As new creatures which we have attained by the privilege of Christ death and resurrection we are to mortify the flesh; without this Christ sacrificial death will avail us no blessings. To mortify the flesh is to deprive it of its sinful needs. Naturally when we deprive our body its basic needs for existence, such as food, water, oxygen, it will result in bodily death. Similarly, when the flesh is deprived of vices or sins, it will become dead to sin and rise to righteousness. Colossians 3:5 points to us some of the vices we are to deny the body so as to overcome the flesh thus: sexual immorality, lust, impurity, evil desires and greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language. We are not only to get rid of these vices but as well to put on virtues such as: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiving spirit, love and thankfulness (Col. 3:120-14).
Dear people of God let us realise that we are not the same with the people of the world. We are God chosen people, holy nation, royal priesthood, and New Israel (1Pet. 2:9). This new identity demands from us ethical responsibilities. Therefore, we are to lead such a life that shows forth the glory of God. We can not attain this new life without mortifying our flesh. Let us be dead to sin and live unto God.
Very Revd Adewale Adebiyi Ph.D