Christ Over All: Put to Death the Old Self  

Each Monday I’ll be putting up my sermon notes and audio file for the sermon series from Forest Hills Baptist Church “Christ Over All: A Study from Colossians”. This is an edited copy of my sermon notes, not a transcript of the sermon. You can listen to the sermon audio above or directly for at the church’s website

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 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, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:5–11, ESV)

I came across a story recently that a PA woman kept exotic animals and one of the animals she had was a black bear. She went into to clean the cage while feeding it some food only to turn to attack her and kill her. On the one hand, it is a tragedy. But on the other hand, its a bear! What do you expect? Its a dangerous animal!

Though most of us don’t realize it, many of us act just like this woman. Though we don’t have pet bears, we do have pet sins. Sins in our life that we nurture, love, and we convince we have everything under control. As Christians, we must put to death our sins and our old self.

1. Who we used to be: The Old Self

Who did we used to be before Christ? It is important for us to remember that the Christianity is not just a new set of behaviors but it is God making us into a new person. It is a fundamental, bedrock shift of our nature. As we by faith enter into our union in Christ, there is a change of who we are. Paul is going to give us a command to put to death the old self, but it is helpful for us to see just who this old self was, who did we used to be?

One important caveat. If you are not a Christian the old self I’m about to describe is who you are right now at the present. The old self Paul describes for us is everyone who has not been saved by Jesus, those who are not Christians. So what does this passage teach us about the old self? 4 things:

a. The Old Self is Earthly

b. The Old Self Deserves God’s Wrath

c. The Old Self is Who We Used to Be if we are in Christ

d. The Old Self Must be Put to Death

2. Who we are in Christ: The New Self

God is creating for himself a new humanity, a redeemed humanity. He does this through Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus is the new man, the perfect man. By Grace, God is breaking our headship from Adam and moving us into the head of a new humanity, Jesus Christ.

So now, if we are in Christ and if we have both died and have been raise in him, we are being renewed into the image of the Creator (Jesus Christ).

As a Christian we should be progressing in holiness over time. As we have put our faith in Jesus, the Spirit should be conforming us more and more to Jesus’ image. This means we should have a trajectory, a trend of increasing personal holiness.

3. How to Put to Death the Old Self

John Owen in his great work on the subject “The Mortification of Sin” says that we must be busy “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” So how do we put to death the old self? Let me give us 8 ways.

1. You Must First Be a Christian

If you hope to kill your sin, you cannot do it if you have not been born again by the Spirit of God. If we want to have any hope of killing our sin and putting it to death, we must rely on the indwelling Spirit of God. We must be made into a new kind of person, by Jesus himself.

Any hope of killing sin within our own might will fail. The only way we can really kill sin in our life is as a Christian operating in the Spirit’s power.

2. Rely only the Spirit’s Power

  • The Indwelling Spirit
  • The Spirit Sanctifies
  • The Spirit Convicts
  • The Spirit applies the new humanity (Changes our affections)

3. Think about the Holiness of God

I’m convinced the reason so many of us think so little of our sin is that we think so little of the holiness of God and the blood bought holiness God purchased for us in the crushing of his son.

As we think about the transcendence and holiness of God our sin becomes painfully contrasted with perfection. In light of holiness of God our sin becomes increasingly repugnant to us. The more it becomes repugnant to us, the more we will grieve it and the more we will hate it.

4. Grieve Over Your Sin and Long to Be Rid of It

When we see God’s holiness like this, our new heart given to us by God should mourn over our sin. We should loath it and long to get rid of it. We get to the point where we just can’t stand it anymore. You are sick and tired of it and you get to the point where you are ready to do anything to rid it of your life.

I have a great fear there are many professed Christians who do not feel this way about their sin. Rather than grieve over it, they kind of like it. They enjoy it.

5. Have a Zealous Hatred for your sin and Act to Kill It

We tend to have pet sins in our life. Sins that we think are cute and we just kind of encourage in our lives.

  • I’m not prideful, I’m just confident and I like being confident in my abilities and letting others know it.
  • or I don’t have an anger issue, I’m just a passionate person and my emotions are right on the surface. Its just who I am.
  • or I just like to enjoy the female form - There’s nothing wrong with window shopping - looking and not touching.

Those little sins we tolerate and allow to fester grow into our destruction. Sin wants to enslave you and control you. Its not cute, its an enemy to be destroyed. Wage war against.

We must be universally devoted to eradicating sin from our life, all the while knowing we will never be able to do it completely in this life. Yet, we must be sincere in turning over every nook and turn over every rock to discover even the trace of sin in our lives.

When you have a zealous spirit-fueled hatred of your sins you are desperate enough to do whatever it takes.

  • You are willing to seek out accountability
  • You are willing to confess your sins to others
  • You are willing to cut things out of your life that cause temptation
  • You are willing to seek the Lord, study the Word, and devote yourself to prayer.
  • Like a dog backed into the corner, you are willing to do whatever it takes to come out with your life. You are vicious, violent, and ruthless in destroying your enemy sin.

Men? Do you want a war to fight? Do you want a battle to be one? Do you want an enemy to kill? Kill the old man inside yourself. Put him to death.

6. Focus on the Heart

One of the mistakes as we kill or sin is to focus on the behavior and not the heart. If we hope to kill our sin, we must get to the root of our behavior. This requires great self reflection, and a prayerful dependence on the Spirit to help root out your issues. Often a good Christian friend or counselor can help. Often the same behavior can result from various different heart issues and motives. If we really want to put our sin to death we must set our attention going to the heart of the issue.

7. Preach the Gospel to Yourself

As Christians we must become experts of applying the Gospel to our lives to address the sinful foots of our hearts. If we hope to kill sin in our lives we must learn to apply these Gospel truths to our own heart and also to the heart of others.

8. Have Faith in the Work of Christ

Killing sin is an act of faith. The only power for defeating sin comes from the victors sin-crushing death of Jesus Christ. We must continually trust in Christ and in his Spirit to make us holy.

Are you a Christian? You can’t hope to kill sin in your life if you are not a believer in Jesus Christ. It’s like going to a gunfight with a butter knife. You have no chance. You need the Holy Spirit to kill sin, and you only have the Spirit of God if you are a Christian.

What aspects of the old Man still reign in your heart?

What sin do you need to put to death?

What is the motives of your heart that leads to your sinful behavior?