Colossians 3:5-6 “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming.”
Our sinful nature was put to death at Jesus’ cross as far as God is concerned. But if we continue to embrace our sin, treasure it, indulge it, and consider it for our good, we give it life again. We become spiritual Dr. Frankensteins, going out to the graveyard to dig up the corpse of our sin and bringing the monster to unnatural life.
“Put it to death,” Paul says. Slay your sin. Despise it. Turn away from it. See it as the rotten, stinking thing it is. This change from giving sin life to putting it to death, from seeing it as grand to seeing it as grotesque, is the change we know as repentance. It is the inevitable result of living like those who died and rose with Christ.
Then Paul helps us to see why this is so vital. “Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” If a person is contemplating sin, there are many consequences we can warn them about. If a man is considering abandoning his family by divorce, you can warn him about how quiet and lonely it will be without them. You can remind him of the psychological harm he may bring to his children. You can point out how expensive the process will be. And all of this would be true.
If a teenager is dabbling in promiscuous sex, you can share pamphlets that warn about the dangers of disease. You can educate her about the possibility of pregnancy. You can present the statistics that show how this reduces the chances of establishing a stable marriage later on. All of these are verifiable consequences of that sin that make life less pleasant.
But we have yet to mention the key thing as far as God and Scripture are concerned. “Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” The main reason sin is bad is not that it introduces pain into our daily lives, true though that may be. The main reason sin is bad is because it brings God’s wrath. It leads to death and hell. And for those who like to gamble and want to know the odds, that is not just a possibility. It is a certainty.
But wait a minute. Did these Christians to whom Paul was writing stop sinning completely? Do we? Not at all. That is why Paul must urge us to keep on putting sin to death, to slay our sin. We go on repenting of our sins. We give it to Jesus to dispose of for us at the cross and receive his forgiveness. That keeps the old self buried in the grave where he belongs, and it gives life to the genuinely new and beautiful creature God has made us in Christ.