Discussion Questions on Colossians 3:5–11
A note about these questions . . .
These questions are designed for the Life Groups of Cities Church. Their goal is to guide you into level-three conversation. They are using the latest sermon, "The Old You Is Over," as a starting place for honest dialogue about our faith in the gospel amid the complexities of life. In case you missed the sermon, I've tried to provide enough content to get everyone on the same page. As you'll see, they are set up in clusters. The questions are subdivided by letters, each as a follow up to the one before it, moving from theoretical to practical. Throw in any extra questions that come to mind, or skip what seems out of place. These are a tool to use however they are most helpful.
Paul begins Colossians 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…”
New Testament scholar Douglas Moo comments,
We who have died to “the elements of the world” (3:3; 2:20) and to the power of sin (Rom. 6:1–6) because of our union with Christ are to “become” dead to sin in the realities of everyday life. But this “putting to death” of sin is not only demanded by our incorporation into Christ; it is also empowered and effected by it. Union with Christ, because it puts us in a new relationship to sin and brings us into the sphere of the Spirit’s power, will impact the way we live. Ultimately, then, the imperative “put to death” in this verse must be viewed as a call to respond to, and cooperate with, the transformative power that is already operative within us. (The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon, 255, emphasis added).
One sticky phrase that captures this truth is that we’re to become who we are. In other words, we are working out of a power “already operative within us,” rather than creating the power ourselves.
A: Why do you think this is significant?
B: How might this be encouraging to you in the fight against sin and the pursuit of holiness?
Continuing his theme of contrasts, Paul instructs us to put off the old self and to put on the new self. In other words, it’s always a two-part calling: we don’t just fight sin, we also pursue holiness. As mentioned in this week’s sermon,
You cannot effectively hate sin if you don’t love Jesus. You can’t say no to sin unless you are, in contrast, saying yes to Jesus. It could be that one of the reasons some of you are growing weary in your fight against sin is because all you’re doing is fighting. You’re just fighting. You’re just trying to “putt off” — while Paul is telling us to “put off” and “put on.”
A: Have you ever grown weary in the fight against sin? What about it becomes so tiresome and difficult?
B: How do you think the positive side of Paul’s instructions might guard us from growing weary?
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
After listing five sins in verse 5, Paul concludes with the statement: “which is idolatry.” As mentioned in the sermon, idolatry is a vertical sin. It is primarily offensive to God — it’s to “love, value, worship anything other than God more than God.” And yet Paul says that these sins committed against one another — these horizontal sins — are idolatrous. From the sermon:
Our sins against one another exist because we don’t worship God as we ought — we’ve gotten him wrong. Categorically, this means that our sins, whatever they might be, can always be traced back to a worship problem.
A: Why do you think it works this way? What does sin have to do with worship?
B: How might the true worship of God drown out temptations to sin?
C: Think creatively for a moment: what are some ideas for incorporating the worship of God at uncommon times that might otherwise be filled with temptation?
“On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”
This is one of the clearest verses in the Bible about the impending wrath of God. One day in the future God will unleash his righteous fury against sin. It will happen. It’s coming because of sin — sins that we have committed, sins that we used to live in. The most important question for us is how in the world we can escape this wrath that we deserve.
A: Take a moment and think about this. In your own words, how have you escaped this wrath?
B: How might you explain this rescue to someone unfamiliar with the Christian story?