If I am a Christian, why do I still struggle with sin? If you are a Christian, you have struggled with this kind of thought. For the past several posts in our study of the Letter to the Colossians, we have been dealing with the imperatives (the commands or “oughts”) of the Christian Faith. “Set your minds on heavenly things.” Put to death your sinful members…” Put on the new man.” and so on. If we are Complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) then why do we still have this battle and, most importantly, what do we do about it when we fall into sin?
Indulgence of the Flesh – AUDIO
As Paul instructs the Colossian Believers, he first pushes them away from legalistic, rules-oriented forms of dealing with sin.
Colossians 2:20-23 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations– 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Then, he pushes them toward Christ.
Colossians 3:1-2 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Then, he begins to direct them toward dealing with sin and being conformed to the image of Christ (Colossians 3:4-4:6) In the letter to the Colossians, Paul does not get into the great depth with the process that is involved. Sanctification is simple, but it is not easy! The Apostle gives his own testimony to this in his letter to the Romans
Romans 7:15-19 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
If you have walked with the Lord for any length of time, this should sound familiar to you. But what is Paul’s solution to this dilemma?
Romans 7:24-8:4 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Paul admits that he is a wretch, that his flesh (humanness) has a propensity to sin. He looks to the Lord for his deliverance and acknowledges that there is a battle that will be going on, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Then he comes full circle back to the Gospel. That is where he began back in chapter 6. Thus, it is not by legalistic rules-oriented religion that we improve our sin problem. While the wrong method (legalism) promotes pride and focus on others’ sins, the Gospel promotes humility and focus on our own sins. This is the path to true progress in godliness. It keeps the focus on Christ and off of self. It grows us little by little.
On the other hand, if there is no desire for true godliness, there is no evidence of the grace of Christ in your life. Many people fall of on one side of this or the other. Legalism and license both cater to our pride and sense of self-worth. The Gospel humbles us and point us continually to Christ. This helps us to remain dependent upon Him in this life and encourages increase in our faith.
Indulgence of the Flesh – AUDIO