Read: Colossians 3:5-8

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you. (v. 5)

Paul issued a lot of commands. Today’s key verse is an example. This is an order. But such orders are not where salvation begins. Salvation begins not with commands but with simple sentences like “By grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Grace brings salvation. And it comes before Paul issued any commands. That’s important because if you mess up that order, then you are back to thinking that salvation is a human achievement. But no, the grace comes first. The commands come later.

It’s interesting, though, that such commands are necessary. In these verses, Paul makes it clear that the Colossians had once walked the paths of malice, anger, and slander. But now Paul tells them to kill off such things. So why didn’t those behaviors die the moment grace came? Why do any of us have to be diligent lest we fall back into bad patterns of sinful speech and attitudes?

That’s a hard question to answer. But for whatever the reason, for now, despite being saved by grace, we are not instantly made perfect. The sinful tendencies in us still have their kicks. For now, our Christian lives are an ongoing cycle of dying and rising with Christ, putting to death what’s old and sinful and cooperating with the Spirit to bring to life what is new and lovely. The good news is that by the Spirit we can do this. It just requires that we walk very carefully every day. —Scott Hoezee

As you pray, ask the Spirit to help you in your struggles with sin.