The Daily Choice
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. Colossians 2:11-12
Yesterday, I wrote about how we can make mistakes in our interpretation of scripture. Today’s passage is one of those that a lot of us as Christians have misunderstood over the years. In it, Paul referred to our salvation in the past tense and said that our body of flesh (the sin nature) has been taken away. In baptism, we were symbolically buried and resurrected with Christ. We now have a new spiritual life, free from our sin nature.
This is a truth that we must understand, but it’s also only part of the story. If we stop at this truth and say, This verse, by itself, is the entire truth, then we will find ourselves very frustrated. We know experientially that we still struggle. We still have self-destructive desires. Our sin nature, it seems, is very much alive. So, is this passage not true, or is there something defective with our faith? Maybe we’re not actually Christians?
Just a few verses later, Paul went on to instruct the Colossians to continually put to death sexual immorality, evil desires, and anger (Colossians 3:5-8). Why would they need to put the sin nature to death if it was already dead and gone? The rest of the truth that we must understand, is that even though we have a new spiritual life – free from the sin nature – we still live in these broken bodies – which remain under the influence of a sinful nature (Romans 7:21-24).
For now, the truth is that we live in two worlds. We have a new perfect spiritual life, but we carry it in a flawed vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7). What does that mean for us? It means that daily, we have a choice to make. Today, are we going to follow our old nature or the new one? Unfortunately, the old life often seems more immediate, tangible, and satisfying. When we pursue our happiness in the old life however, it eventually leads to misery. Our daily challenge is to pursue the new spiritual life. Our daily struggle for the rest of our lives is to bring the truth of that new life into reality, here and now.
Every day, I must pray this: God, what do you want me to do today to live the new life? What must I abandon? What must I pursue? Please give me the strength and desire to do those things.