STUDY | Spend the week studying Colossians 3:5-11. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Determine which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | I am to kill sin or it will kill me.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
A healthy, fruitful garden doesn’t happen automatically. It requires care and attention to create a healthy environment for growth. A good gardener needs to know how to plant, water and fertilize. These things promote life and growth. A good gardener also needs to remove weeds that threaten to choke the plants; they are mindful of the dangers that threaten their garden.
The Christian life is a lot like a garden. God wants to produce new life, health and flourishing in your garden. He has given you His Spirit and a new nature to make this possible. But the dangers of sin are still there and must be removed at all costs if your garden is to be healthy and fruitful.
This week your group will discuss Paul’s instructions to the Colossians not to tolerate sin in their lives. Sin is a serious matter—one of life and death. Therefore, you should take every measure to pull up the weeds of sinful behaviors in your life.
Q: How would you describe a healthy and flourishing life?
Q: What are some excuses we give for tolerating sin in our lives?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
A NEW WAY
Paul has been calling believers in Colossae to seek and set their minds on things above. These believers have been buried and raised with Christ. They have died to sin and have been raised in power by the Holy Spirit to live a life pleasing to God.
Every believer is a new creation called to live in a new way. This new way does not tolerate sin for a second. Paul’s tone is serious and to the point: “You have to do whatever it takes to kill sin in your life. God’s wrath is coming to those who choose to live for sin. There was a time when you lived to satisfy your sinful desires, but things have changed. You can’t live your new life in Christ in the old way of sinful behaviors.”
READ: Colossians 3:5–11. Why is it difficult to kill sin in your life?
Q: Recall a time when you took action to stop a sinful pattern of behavior in your life.
OUT WITH THE OLD
Then Paul uses the image of taking off an old, tattered and stained garment and putting on a new, clean one. Here Paul points his readers to something that has already been done for them. At the cross, Jesus gave believers His righteousness (the new garment) in exchange for their sin (the old garment). Every believer has a new identity in Christ, and that new identity should be reflected in how they live.
Daily believers are to put off the old self and put on the new self. They are to focus on things above while also going to war against the sin that threatens their lives. As they do this, God works to renew believers and shape them into His image.
Q: Why is it important to remember what Jesus has done for you in your fight against sin? What happens if you forget what He has done?
Q: Where do you experience God renewing your life right now? How is He changing your desires and attitude?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
KINDS OF WEEDS
Paul gives three categories of weeds that need to be pulled from our garden. First, Paul identifies sensual sins that excite a desire to satisfy our sinful appetites. It’s the inordinate desire for sex or sweets or anything that makes you say, “I want that, and I want it now.” The next category of weeds Paul mentions is greed (or covetousness). It’s the sin of always wanting more and envying those who have what you don’t. Paul calls this idolatry because it puts something else in the place of God. It makes having something or someone a greater desire than having God. The last category of weeds has to do with our relationships in community. Each sin Paul lists reveals how we can have a sinful attitude toward others that leads to angry outbursts, wishing ill of others, dragging someone’s name through the mud, being loose with your language or lying to others.
Q: Describe some of the damage these weeds (sins) can cause in your life?
Q: What does it look like to pull up these weeds with others in community?
CHANGE OF HEART
Paul shows us that changing behavior begins with a change of heart. If you’re a believer, you have a new heart empowered by the Holy Spirit to do what you couldn’t do before—kill sin in your life. Your old way of living was put to death and you have been raised by God as a new person. You’re no longer obligated to obey sinful desires, want more than you have or harbor a sinful attitude about someone or some situation.
In Christ, God satisfies the desires of your heart with His presence and pleasure. In Christ, your heart is grateful for all that you have in Him. In Christ, your heart is moved to see and relate to others as He did - with love and compassion.
Q: Why is willpower not enough to pull up these sinful weeds? What more is needed?
Q: Where in your life do you want God to change your heart to be more like His?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
BE KILLING SIN
The Puritan John Owen once wrote that every believer must “always be killing sin or it will be killing you.”1 Sin isn’t something to be tolerated; it’s not something we can just ignore. Sin is like a venomous snake in your garden, coiled and ready to strike at any moment. What reasonable person would say, “I’ll just ignore the snake”? No. A reasonable person would kill the snake and remove it.
Jesus went to the cross and killed the snake for us. Long ago, God promised to send a Savior to crush the head of the serpent in the garden (see Genesis 3:15). May you live your life in the light of His victory over sin. May you find your identity in Him and let your life come into line with the truth that you are a new creation in Him, empowered to live for Him and not for sin.
Q: Why are confession and repentance important steps in removing sinful weeds?
Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to have a different attitude toward sin?
Ask God to reveal sin that needs to be dealt with in your heart. Repent, and ask God to remove the weeds of sin from your life. Pray for an attitude that sees sin as a direct threat to your life and relationship with God. Look to Jesus as the One who empowers you to live for Him and no longer for sin.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
• Read: Galatians 5:16–26 and reflect on the differences between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit
• Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Six Reasons: In his book The Mortification of Sin, John Owen gives six reasons why we should always be killing sin. First, we are not yet perfected in glory and can only rest when sin is dead. Second, sin always produces bad fruit. Third, sin only grows stronger and more deceitful the longer it goes unchecked and not dealt with. Fourth, we have God’s gifts of the Holy Spirit and a new nature which empowers us to put the sin in us to death. Fifth, we grow weaker in our relationship with God as sin grows stronger in us. Sixth, we have been called to progress in spiritual growth, not regress by continuing in sinful behaviors.
Ruthless or Reckless: Sam Storms writes that there are really only two options to dealing with sin: you are either reckless or ruthless:
Either we are ruthless in our commitment and efforts to kill sin (lest it be killing us) or we are reckless by default. One doesn’t have to make deliberate choices to commit specific sins to be reckless. All one need do is fail to take calculated and precise steps to avoid temptation, flee sin at first sight, and treat it as one’s mortal enemy. Not to do so is to be reckless (defined by Webster as lacking proper caution, careless of consequences, negligent), regardless of intent, regardless of stated hatred for sin.
There is no cease fire in our war with sin. There are no de-militarized zones to which we can flee. The flesh never takes a sabbatical. To live as if one might let down one’s guard for a second is to recklessly expose one’s soul to almost certain defeat.
1. John Owen, The Mortification of Sin (Edinburgh, Scotland: Banner of Truth, 2004), 5.
2. Bill Boekestein, “John Owen On Mortification of Sin,” Meet the Puritans, November 29, 2016, http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/john-owen-on-mortifi- cation-of-sin-1.
3. Sam Storms, “Ruthless or Reckless (Col. 3: 5-11),” Sam Storms: Enjoying God, accessed October 1, 2019, https://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/ruth- less-or-wreckless--3:5-11-.