Death that Leads to Life
Colossians 3:5 tells us to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
I think we all have a pretty good picture of what sexual immorality, impurity, passion, and evil desires are. It's easy for us to nod our heads in agreement as Paul lists these sins. However, what about covetousness? This is idolatry.
It’s easy to let this sin just slip by as we quickly read past sexual immorality into the next verses... as if perhaps it’s not as bad as the others because it was listed last. But other translations call it greed, evil desires, envy, or even unbridled desires. When we have so little control over our desires, we chase after them and seek them instead of seeking God. But unlike seeking God, these desires never bring us peace and never lead us to a place of joy. Instead, they leave us dry, discouraged, and hopeless—always wanting more and never satisfied or content.
So, how do we know if we are yielding to this temptation? When we begin to feel discouraged and down we can often trace it back to an event or time when those emotions began. Feeling spiritually dry or hopeless can sometimes come in seasons when we don’t even realize what is happening until our joy is just … gone. We’re being told we should have abundant life, but we look around wondering, What in the world does that even mean? Abundance should be full of life and hope, but instead, we feel distant from the Lord and distracted.
More Than a Distraction
I think these distractions can just be a nicer name for idols. We can stomach the label of being “distracted” because it almost leaves us looking important. It lets us admit our faults while still holding onto a small portion of our pride. However, when we let anything take over our hearts, or when we chase after anything other than God, we leave no room for the only One worthy of that place in our hearts.
It’s easy to get caught up in the world and lose our eternal perspective. We are surrounded by the world telling us to place ourselves, our images, our children, our homes, or our jobs as number one in our lives. We’re not even left to our own imaginations of what perfection in these areas looks like anymore. We can log on to any social media account and within seconds see #goals (which can be comparisons quickly leading to unbridled desires, if we’re not careful).
Discouraged, we also see the world offering solutions: spend more time, money, or effort in these different areas and you can also have a perfect home, life, image, husband, kids, etc. However, the more we look to these things for our happiness, the more dissatisfied we become. Seeking these desires can never bring us peace because there will always be somebody more organized, with more obedient children, living in a prettier home, and making more money at an even more amazing job. Suddenly we’re not just discouraged—we’ve become bitter, jealous, envious, and greedy. We’ve turned away from the abundant life the Lord has offered us.
Replacing Idols with Christ
Only when God is in the number one place in our lives can we be content. He knows that nothing else can fill us and bring us joy. He knows that all other paths lead to darkness and death. He is there—never changing, always drawing us close to Him, offering us hope and peace that we can never find anywhere else.
The more we seek Him and come to Him with a humble spirit, the more content we will become. 2 Corinthians 3:17–18 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
We are free! Free to behold the glory of the Lord and live abundantly without slavery to greed or comparison or envy. This requires seeking the Lord every day and chasing after Him instead of all the other things that take our minds captive. This requires intentionally saying no to the desires that sneak in and fight for our hearts, and it requires asking God to give us His perspective on life so that we can live to glorify Him in everything we do.
Your friend, Miranda
Miranda Madsen has been married 10 years and is a mom of soon-to-be five children. She lives in the woods of Northwest Arkansas where she spends most of her time raising and homeschooling her kids and teaching them the Gospel. She also enjoys working out, baking, writing, and going on adventures. Miranda blogs at Slow Wellness.