April 24, 2015

Is It Really Possible?

Colossians 3:5-11

Put to death . . . whatever belongs to your earthly nature . . . . You must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. . .

—  Colossians 3:5, 8

Some things are easier said than done. Some things look good on paper but don't always work in everyday life. The apostle Paul tells us to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. But is that really possible? Ask people struggling with an addiction, and they will tell you how hard it is to overcome. A resident in a rehab facility said that as long as he was there, everything was fine, but as soon as he got out, he was back to doing the same thing.

Some Christians teach that when you give your life to Christ, your problems will be solved. Surrender to the Lord's power, and your cravings will be gone. Ask Jesus into your life, and there will be no more lying, no more cheating, no more profanity. Unfortunately it's not that simple!

Putting to death our earthly nature is a lifelong struggle. The only way to win the battle is to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and to make use of the means he provides. For some people that means a rehab center, and for others it means attending meetings for a lifetime. And all of us need the church, the workshop of the Holy Spirit, to help us put off our earthly nature and put on good things, such as "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness," forgiveness, and love (see Colossians 3:12-14). Are these things a part of your life?

Father, fill us with your power to put away the things that trip us up. Guide us to people and facilities that can give us the support we need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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