Fashions for the Soul

Fashions for the Soul

Colossians 3:12-17

Dr. Jim Denison

Spring Break has just ended for most of us, so it must indeed be Spring. With the new season comes the new season’s fashions, or so I hear. One website says, “This year’s look is flirty, fun and fabulously feminine. Have it both ways with trim, tailored silhouettes or soft, flowing lines and indulge yourself with a little fresh couture with all the frills.” I don’t even know what any of that means. And I have no idea how to say “couture.”

Not to be deterred, I asked Minni to help me find Janet a new spring wardrobe. She located an Oscar de la Renta beaded dress for $3,800.00; a “turquoise stone tote” for $1,975.00; and “leather espradrille sandals” for $937.00. What is “espradrille”?

By contrast, a website for men’s spring clothing says, “The classics still hold sway when it comes to men’s fashion.” I think that means that nothing changes for us. Since I’m wearing the same kind of suit I’ve worn all my married life, I guess that’s a good thing.

Last week, Paul showed us the winter clothes our souls are supposed to strip off if we want to experience all of God there is. Now he displays the spring fashions we are to put on. How we are to be with others, and with ourselves. This is a crucial conversation, for the health of our souls and the salvation of our society. It’s my privilege to explain why this subject matters, and how it applies to our lives and souls today.

Why relevance is so relevant

You and I no longer live in a world which believes it needs what the church provides. We can be “spiritual” without being religious. I can believe in Christ without going to church. Most non-churched people say that’s exactly their position on the subject.

Only two percent of Americans are afraid of going to hell. So long as I’m sincere in my beliefs and tolerant of others, my spirituality is as good as yours. “The Bible says” is no longer the answer; for many, it’s not even the question. We must show that our faith is relevant, before anyone will consider the fact that it might be right.

This is precisely how it was in first-century Colossae. Paul doesn’t quote much of the Old Testament in his letter to this Greek culture, because they wouldn’t care any more than you care what the Koran or the Book of Mormon says on today’s subject. If the Colossians cannot prove the relevance of their faith in their relationships and their own character, their witness is lost. But if they can, they can reach their world. So can we.

What follows is one of the most complete descriptions of external and internal spirituality to be found in all of God’s word.

At issue is not our salvation. We are already “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” He has already “chosen” or “elected” us to be his children. We are “holy,” set apart for him as his special people. We are “dearly loved” by our Father today. All that was true of Israel in the Old Testament is extended to these Gentiles in Colossae, and to you and me today.

So we are not learning how to merit his favor, but exhibit his grace. Measure yourself by these standards. Then we’ll learn how to put on the spiritual clothing our Father offers us today.

How to be spiritual with us (vs. 12-14)

Here’s what is in style with God this spring: “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (v. 12).

“Compassion” means to “feel with,” to empathize with others, to put ourselves in their position. “Kindness” refers to kind deeds and actions. “Humility” requires that we serve others, not because they are superior to us or we are superior to them, but because we are their brother or sister. “Gentleness” is strength under control, submitted constantly to the Spirit. “Patience” means “long-suffering,” refusing revenge or retaliation.

Now comes the test: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (v. 13).

“Bear with each other” means to endure one’s sins against us. “Forgive whatever grievances” means to pardon whatever has been done to us. We cannot forget it, but we can choose not to punish it. Do this to the same degree that Jesus has forgiven you, without condition.

How? “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.” Love is to be the outer garment which “binds together” all the others, which protects them and keeps them in place. “Agape,” selfless, sacrificial love which puts the other first, is the foundation virtue of all the rest.

There appears to be a progression here in our relationships. Think of the person who last hurt you, or who has hurt you the most. Have that person in mind, and think about what he or she did to you.

Begin your response with “compassion.” Ask God to help you feel what they feel, to see things as they do. Why did he do this to you? What insecurity, false information, or past experiences motivated him to act in this way? Let’s assume that he mistreated you out of his own need to feel secure.

To respond unkindly, returning hurt for hurt, only makes things worse, reinforcing his insecurity. Kindness means that I find ways to help him feel secure. I look for actions which respond to his need in grace.

Humility means that I do so while understanding that I am an insecure person as well, that my needs are no greater than his. There but for the grace of God go I.

Gentleness means that I submit to God, asking him to help me give this person the security and compassion he needs. I seek God’s leading and strength continually.

Patience means that I do this for a long time, whatever the person’s response. I am not responsible for what he does to me, only for what I do to him.

Forbearance means that I do this even when he does not respond in kind, and when the hurt continues.

Forgiveness means that I pardon all that he has done to me, and all that he continues to do to me.

Love means that I do this as a lifestyle and commitment, offering him what Jesus has given to me. This is the way to health and peace in this hurting relationship; the only way to resolution. God’s method works!

Such grace in relationships could not be more counter-cultural today.

“You’re fired!” is Donald Trump’s contribution to our culture. “American Idol” viewers tune in each week to watch Simon lambaste unlucky singers. “Survivor” is all about voting people off the island. Employees are often a means to the end of the bottom line. AT&T’s consolidation will cut another 10,000 jobs, while their stock soars.

Giving grace to those who deserve it least and thus need it most is the fastest way to show the culture that Jesus is real and our faith matters. Who needs such grace from you this week?

How to be spiritual with yourself (vs. 15-17)

Now Paul shifts from the external to the internal, from relating with others to relating with ourselves. If what follows isn’t true, what has gone before won’t work.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” he commands (v. 15a). “The peace Christ gives” is the sense here.

How do we get it? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Give God your requests, leave them with him, and you will find his peace.

Let such peace “rule” in your “heart.” “Rule” means to umpire, to call the shots. “Heart” is the center of emotions and will. Seek God’s peace, and put it in charge of all your decisions and problems. Give them so fully to God that you receive his peace in their place. Such serenity will show a stressed world that Jesus lives in your soul.

“Be thankful” (v. 15b): the word indicates thanksgiving for all God has already done for us. Spend time each day considering his blessings, and you’ll “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Such thanksgiving will show a driven world that Jesus lives in your soul.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (v. 16a). “Dwell” means to take up residence. Begin the day in God’s word; spend the day in his word; end the day in his word. Be “rich” and extravagant in your study and obedience to his word.

Then you’ll be able to “teach and admonish” others, showing them God’s word and its application to their lives.

Then you’ll be able to “sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” “Psalms” probably refers to Old Testament songs of praise; “hymns” to such songs of praise found in the New Testament; and “songs” to praise expressed by believers outside the biblical texts. All are to be “spiritual,” centered on God and not the performer.

Then you’ll live “with gratitude in your hearts to God” for all he has done for you. And such a joyful spirit will show a frightened world that Jesus lives in your soul.

Underlying all such internal spirituality is this motive: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (v. 17).

“In the name of the Lord Jesus” means in his authority and for his glory. Stay connected with his Spirit and you’ll have his power. In his power you can be gracious with others. And you can be peaceful, thankful, and joyful with your Lord.

All this will glorify your Father, and show a lost and dying world that Jesus lives in your soul.


Where do you need to give God’s grace to someone who has hurt you? Ask God to help you have compassion for that person, understanding something of why he or she did what was done to you.

With his help, look for a practical way to be kind, meeting that need with his love. Stay humble, recognizing that you are no less a sinner. Be “gentle,” submitted to God’s guidance and strength. Be patient and bear with the person, as this may take time. Forgive, choosing not to punish. And your selfless love will show that person and all who observe that Jesus is real in your soul.

Where do you need to experience God’s peace, thanksgiving, and joy in your own soul? Give your problems to his power, and you’ll have peace. Remember his blessings, and you’ll be thankful. Spend some time in his word and worship, and you’ll have joy. And the world will know that Jesus is real in your soul.

Everybody Loves Raymond was one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. The star of the show, Ray Romano, went from being a struggling stand-up comic to one of the highest-paid actors in television. After nine seasons, the show broadcast its final episode in May of last year.

At the conclusion of the last day’s filming, Romano spoke to the studio audience as he reflected on his past and future. He read a note his brothers had stuck in his luggage nine years earlier, when he moved from New York to Hollywood.

A tearful Romano said, “My older brother Richard wrote, ‘What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?’ Now I’m going to work on my soul.”

Let’s join him.

It’s All in Your Mind

It’s All In Your Mind

Colossians 3:1-4

Dr. Jim Denison

During the Great Depression, an impoverished widow stepped into the foyer of an insurance company. An agent asked if he could help her. “Yes,” she replied. Taking out a yellowed, weathered insurance policy, she said, “I’ve lost my job and can’t keep paying this. What happens if I let it expire?”

The agent examined the document and said, “This is a valuable life insurance policy. I urge you not to let it lapse. What does your husband think?” “He died two years ago,” she answered. The agent looked again–the document was a policy on his life. For two years his widow had been paying premiums when she should have been collecting them.

Paul has been telling the Colossians that they can experience all of God there is–not just a God confined to church or “religion.” He would say the same to us. Rather than pay religious dues each Sunday, we can experience life-transforming joy each day.

Now the apostle turns from the theological to the ethical, from the theoretical to the practical. What does all this mean in the most common-sense terms? What steps are we to take to experience all of God there is today? What we’ll learn this morning is so simple each of us can all do it, and so crucial each of us must.

Learn the facts

Paul begins with some foundational facts. First, you have been “raised” with Jesus, “co-raised” in the Greek.

The tense indicates an event completed in the past which bears present applications. If I tell you that “I have been married to Janet,” I make the same point. The event happened 25 years ago, but it still affects my life in wonderful ways today.

This is passive, something that happened to us which we did not earn or deserve. It occurred at the moment of our salvation. In that event we became the “new creation” of God (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Second, “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (v. 3).

“You” is plural, something which is true of every believer, no matter our past or present circumstances. “Died” is a past event, a completed action. It happened when you asked Christ into your life–the old person died, and you were “born again.”

Now you are “hidden with Christ in God.” The tense again indicates a past, completed event. We are now sheltered in Jesus, hidden from our enemies; we are personally and privately with him, where none can go; we are identified with him, so that others see him in us.

Third, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (v. 4).

Now Jesus “is your life,” not just your faith or your religion. He will “appear” when he returns, and we will “appear with him in glory.” This world will pass away, and we will spend eternity with our Father in his perfect paradise.

Past: you died to your old life when you invited Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, and you have been raised to new life with him. This happened at your salvation. Future: you will be glorified with him one day when he returns. Present: he “is your life” now. Not just your church or your religion–your life.

Do you experience these facts every day? Is the sinful person you were before you met Christ now dead and gone? When people see you, do they see Jesus instead? Is he your life all the time, every day in every way? If not, let’s keep talking.

Make the choice

We’ve seen the grammatical “indicatives”–the statements of fact. Now let’s turn to the “imperatives”–the commands of Scripture which result.

We are ordered by God to “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (v. 1). “Set your hearts” translates the Greek word “seek.” It is in the present tense–something we must do continually. We did not settle this once and for all at our salvation. We choose it every day.

The word translated “seek” describes a person who seeks diligently, passionately, the way a man dying of thirst seeks water. We are to value them above all else.

In the next verse he tells us to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (v. 2). “Set your minds” means to fix your attention constantly, to think about these things all the time. We are to value and think about these things above all else.

The imperatives show that this will not happen unless we choose to make it so. This is not the inevitable consequence of a salvation experience, or God would not ask us to do it.

We are to set our minds and thoughts on “those things which are above.” We are to think about them constantly, to value them above all else. What are these “things”?

God himself: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5); “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

His word and will: “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times” (Psalm 119:20); “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97); “I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly” (v. 167).

His daily worship: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4); “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2).

Ultimately: Jesus himself. We are to seek those things which are above because that’s where “Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” We are to seek to know and value him above all things, people, and priorities. We are to live for him first and always, practicing his presence all through the day.

By contrast, we are not to set our thoughts and hearts on “earthly things.” What does Scripture mean?

Popularity before obedience to God: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal 1:10).

Worldly success as an end in itself. Remember Jesus’ parable of the rich man who tore down his barns to build bigger and said to himself, “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” His response: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).

Paul does not say that we can ignore people and possessions. He says that we are not to “set our minds” on them. They are not to come first. We are not to live for them, or evaluate our success by them. We are not to give them our minds and thoughts, our purposes or values. They are a temporal means to an eternal end.

Why does God care so much about our values and thoughts? Because “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

Marcus Aurelius was right: the happiness of our lives depends on the quality of our thoughts. What we think about and value, we become.

Norman Vincent Peale: “All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do.”

“Omega point thinking” is more popular than ever–beginning with the end in mind. Where do you want to go? What do you want the organization to do? Not, how I can make the present better, but, what do we want to become? Then every step goes in that direction.

If we seek to know God, his word and his worship, we will. If we think about him through the day, we will be drawn to him. If we value him above all others, we will experience all of God there is. Our minds connect our souls to his Spirit.

Take the steps to joy

Now, what are we to do with all this?

First, decide to live for God’s glory. Decide to ask of every decision: how will this honor Jesus? How will this draw me closer to him? How will this build his Kingdom? Decide to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, knowing that all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

Second, begin tomorrow morning with him. Make an appointment with your Father, and refuse to break it. Expect the enemy to intrude with distractions. Learn that the good is the enemy of the best. The most important thing you can do in the morning is to get with God. Even if you will dedicate only 10 minutes, start there.

Read a passage, and ask God to speak from it to you. Spend a few moments praying through your day, surrendering it to him.

Get a small notebook you can carry with you through the day. Find a verse you will think about through the day, and write it down. Make a prayer list, and work through it with your Father. Then spend a moment singing a hymn or chorus to him. Connect your soul with his Spirit.

Third, walk through the day with him. Pray for the people you meet. Pray about the tasks you must accomplish. Pray about the problems you face, and the opportunities you receive. Spend the day talking with your Father as your friend.

Last, end the day with him. Take a few moments before you go to bed to review the day with your Lord. Ask him for anything you need to change or learn. Write in your notebook anything he says to you. Thank your Father for what he has done for and with you this day.

These steps are so simple that anyone can take them, and so crucial that all of us must. They are the practical keys to experiencing all of God there is.

Next week we’ll look at the specific results of this commitment to give God our minds and values. For today, let’s make it. Assume that the enemy will distract you and tempt you. Assume that you’ll easily forget to do this, or that you’ll decide it doesn’t matter. If right now you’re hearing such words, guess why?


I was working on this message last Monday morning at the SMU library, and hit a wall. I had finished the exegesis of the text, and was working on the outline. But I didn’t know where to go with it.

So I stopped for a moment to pray. I gave the message to Jesus, and asked him to put into my mind the direction he intended me to go. When I looked up, my eyes fell on the card placed at the center of the library work table.

On the right side was this stern warning: “No cell phones (tones or talking) in the library.” That didn’t help much. But on the left was a picture of Laurel (or Hardy, I never know which) and this wise quotation: “Day after day man invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation” (Jean Arp, 1887-1948). Wonder what he would say today?

But isn’t he right? In that moment I knew that the message was to be about contemplation, meditation, practicing the presence of Jesus, our souls connected with his Spirit.

The quote carried me back to my best days with Jesus, those days when I was not so hurried and hassled by the world and its demands. Those days when I walked more slowly with him, conversing with him in my spirit, considering his word, practicing his presence. Those were my best days. I resolve to make them my future days.

Will you join me?

Spiritual Oncology

Spiritual Oncology

Colossians 3:5-11

Dr. Jim Denison

The other day I got interested in domain names. There are some strange ones out there, like It’s just what the name implies, available to anyone with too much time on their hands.

And I found some intriguing website names for sale, like and is for sale; if that doesn’t work, is available.

USA Today is reporting that the most expensive domain name ever sold was purchased just last month:, for $12 million.

But as we’ll learn today, that domain has been for sale a lot longer than the Internet has been around. In Colossians we’ve learned to live for God’s glory, in his fear, radically and fully devoted followers of Jesus. We do this in his strength, in gratitude for his grace, by fixing our minds and values on Jesus. Now we go from preaching to meddling. This week: what to get rid of. Next week: what to put on.

When we see these sins as cancers of the soul, deadly to our lives and joy, we see them properly. Let’s discover those which are growing in us today, what to do about them, and why the subject matters so much.

Refuse sexual sin

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature”:

This is a present tense imperative, intended for us all. Paul’s syntax makes clear that we are all included here, no matter how checkered or clean our past or present appear to be. The tense is active–something we must do. God cannot do this for us and yet honor our free will.

Something on the lists which follow is the enemy’s special strategy for each one of us. Your temptations may not be mine, and mine may not be yours. But we’re all here somewhere.

We must put it “to death,” not just out of the way to be considered later. Something must die–these sins, or us. Either we kill the cancer, or it kills us.

Now we come to the vice list, five words which all relate to sexual sin. Five stages of sexual cancer, if you will.

The first is “sexual immorality,” porneia in the Greek. Any kind of sexual activity outside marriage and outside God’s will. Premarital sex, extramarital sex, prostitution, pornography–all such acts are included here.

Next is “impurity,” “filthiness” in the Greek. The word relates to immoral thoughts.

Next is “lust,” “passions” in the Greek. The word relates to emotions, feelings.

Next comes “evil desires,” immoral desires and longings.

Last is “greed, which is idolatry.” In this context, wanting something sexual which we should not have. Wanting a person or a picture, an act or a relationship.

The order appears to move from symptoms of the disease to their source. From secondary, metastasized malignancy to the primary tumor.

To reverse the chronology, we begin with stage one: we are tempted by something or someone which is sexually improper. Stage two: we desire what we want. Stage three: the cancer spreads to our emotions. Stage four: it spreads to our minds and dominates our thoughts. Stage five: it spreads to our bodies, and we act on it. Then the cancer spreads to others, and the malignancy multiplies.

James warned us about the same fatal progression: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15).

Such sins lead to the “wrath” and judgment of God (v. 6). The cancer is eventually terminal. We all have committed something on this list in the past (v. 7), and we are tempted to go back where we used to be. But the wages of such sin is death.

Consider a few statistics regarding the cancer of sexual sin in America today:

Those who lived together before marriage are three to five times more likely to have an affair than those who did not. The divorce rate for those who lived together is twice that of those who did not.

24 percent of men say they have had an affair. Only three percent ever marry their lover.

“Sex” is the most popular search term on the Internet.

70 percent of porn traffic occurs between 9 and 5 in the day.

Pornographers sell 20 times more movies each year than Hollywood produces.

One in ten who use the Internet admits being sexually addicted.

One in five youth under the age of 17 received a sexual solicitation over the Internet last year.

325,000 children under the age of 17 are prostitutes in America today.

The average American teenager will view 14,000 sexual references on television this year.

Fortunately, there is some good news from our teenagers. The number of boys who are sexually active has declined nearly 50 percent in recent years, and girls’ percentage has declined significantly as well. It is not true that everyone’s doing it.

God’s word is clear: “put to death” all such sins. How?

Where they start. At stage one, when the thought first attacks us. When we first want something or someone we should not. Bring that temptation instantly to Jesus, asking his help and strength. “Set your hearts on things above” (Colossians 3:1) in prayer and praise, word and worship. Bombard the cancer with God’s Spirit.

If you’re already further down the slippery slope into immoral desire, feelings, thoughts, or even actions, it’s not too late to come to Jesus for help. He cannot reverse the past, but he can bless the future. He can heal your guilt and remove its stain. You can begin again in his grace. “It’s too late” is a lie from the enemy. The fact that you’re here, listening to God’s word, proves that his grace is sufficient for you this day.

Refuse spoken sin

The other category about which Paul warns us is just as deadly, though far less publicized in our culture: “now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other” (vs. 8-9a). From sexual sins to spoken sins.

Consider the list, this time given to us in ascending order:

Stage one is “anger,” a feeling of bitterness or hatred toward another. Not the emotion we associate with anger, for the Bible teaches, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26, quoting Psalm 4:4). The sin is to cherish that anger, to refuse to let it go.

Stage two is “rage”–a “burning anger which flares up and burns with intensity,” to define the Greek term. The simmering pot boils over.

Stage three is “malice,” the decision and intention to hurt the other person.

Stage four involves “slander” and “filthy language,” when we speak words which put our malice into effect. We belittle and attack with our words.

Finally comes stage five, where we “lie to each other” (v. 9a). From unkind words we progress to out-and-out falsehoods in our desire to hurt the other. “To each other” shows that the problem existed in the Christian community, not just the larger society.

All of this is so unnecessary, since we have already put off this “old self” when we asked Christ into our lives (v. 9b). We have put on the “new self,” which he is renewing in his image every day (v. 10). He does this for us all, no matter our background or story: Greek or Jew, Hebrew or Gentile; barbarian (uneducated), Scythian (savage), slave or free–“Christ is all, and is in all” (v. 11).

But we must cooperate. God created us to love and worship him, but love requires a choice. So our Father made us with free will, and has limited himself to it. It is no denial of God’s sovereignty to understand that he chose of his own sovereign will to limit himself at the point of our freedom.

God has made us his children, but we must choose to live out that reality. He has given us new clothes to wear, but we must strip off the old, dirty rags. He has given us a beautiful mansion to inhabit, but we must come in from the mud pits. He has given us a pure and holy spirit, but we must refuse sexual and spoken sin. The choice is ours.

The old parable makes the point well. A boy told his grandfather, “It feels like there are two dogs fighting inside me. One wants to be good. The other wants to be bad. Which will win?” The wise grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

So, where are you being tempted by spoken sin?

Begin at the beginning, at stage one. Name the person for whom you harbor “anger,” unspoken bitterness. Before the cancer metastasizes into wrath, and boils over into malicious desire expressed by slander and lies, stop the cancer now.

Give that person to Jesus. “Tell God on them.” Turn the person over to him. And ask him to help you see that person as he does, through the eyes of grace.

Admit that you don’t know everything about their story and circumstances. Counselors say that there’s always “one thing more” we don’t know. If we did, we’d understand why the person acts as he or she does. We may not excuse the behavior, but at least we’d understand.

Every time the anger comes up inside you again, turn it to God in prayer. Intercede for that person, especially when you don’t want to. Ask God to change the person, and to change you as well. And as you strip off the old clothes, he’ll give you new.

If the disease has progressed beyond stage one, it’s not too late to go to the Great Physician. If you’ve already acted on your anger, rage, and malice, God stands ready to heal and to help.

Ask God if you should go directly to the person you’ve slandered and lied about. Rarely, it would do the person more harm than good for you to do this; so you should pray about it first and seek wise counsel if necessary. But almost always, going to the person is the right first step.

Confess your sin, even if you believe the person was to blame as well. You’re dealing with your problem, not his. Whatever the person does, you’ve done your part.

When the temptation to spoken sin comes again, remember how hard this was. And refuse to experience that cancer again in your soul. Give it to Jesus, praying for the person, and receive his grace.


This week we’ve studied two of the most practical diseases incurred by disciples of Jesus: sexual and spoken sins. Either will keep us from his joy. Either will keep God at church, on Sunday, the subject of religion only. Either will separate his power from our lives. Both are conquered when we obey his word and trust his power. Which is his word for you today?

During the Falkland Islands conflict in 1982, the British Royal Navy employed a sophisticated defense system which identified enemy missiles and shot them down with great effectiveness. Attack after attack was repelled.

Then the unexpected happened. The 3,500-ton destroyer HMS Sheffield was sunk by a single missile fired from an Argentine fighter jet. An investigation revealed the problem: the ship’s defense computers had been programmed to recognize and ignore the French-made Exocet missile as friendly. By chance, the Argentine fighter was equipped with just that missile. So the ship was sunk by a missile it identified and could have destroyed.

What missiles are flying at you today?