The 12-steps of Paul
Colossians 3:5-8 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry . . . you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander . . .
In my quest to understand my flesh nature, I have found today’s passage to be profoundly important. In it, Paul again insisted that I must kill my old nature. I have long been frustrated with him for insisting that I must do a thing while omitting the details of how to do it. In my addiction, I very much wanted to understand what it meant to put to death my defects. I would have found it quite helpful if Paul would have just recorded his 12-steps to holiness . . .
If Paul gave me a detailed set of steps though, I would likely become legalistic, elevating the rules above the ruler. Christ set me free from a performance based salvation, yet I desire specific rules to follow.
Still, I long to know what it means to crucify my flesh nature. How do I do this most important thing? My answer is still in progress, but I have come to realize that putting to death any one defect means doing whatever it takes to cut it out of my life. Depending on the person and the defect, this may mean treatment, leaving a job, abandoning destructive relationships, getting rid of social media, getting rid of a phone, or going to meetings.
Paul could not give me specific steps because for each of my defects, this looks very different. In my own experience, I have had to commit to radical structural change in my life when I have needed to kill a behavior. When I change nothing, nothing changes.
If I have been unable to stop a behavior, it is because I have been unwilling to do what it takes to crucify that behavior. Faith is not doing nothing and praying for change. Faith is doing whatever it takes to abandon self and follow God.