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Dealing with Sin in the Body

Colossians 3:5

As we come to our time in God’s Word this morning, obviously, we’re mindful of the communion table prepared before us. The Lord’s table is a very good way, I think, to end the calendar year 2014. We celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior this last Sunday in anticipation of Christmas, and then this Sunday we want to remind ourselves that the Lord didn’t come to just live, but to die, and to die for our sins so that we might live.

Whenever we observe communion, Paul tells us we’re doing something even more significant than just providing ourselves with a reminder: “As often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes,” right? Those who proclaim the Lord’s death, or any other portion of God’s revealed truth, that’s all of us Christians, we must do so in a way that’s fitting, in a way that’s consistent with that truth.

And that’s why Paul not only condemned, but also admonished, exhorted the Corinthian church in very, very strong terms. He warned them, 1 Corinthians 11:27, he said, “Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink the cup.”

Observing communion is always, for us, a call to self-examination. Every time we come to the Lord’s table we need to be thinking about ourselves, about our sin, about where we’ve fallen short, and keep short accounts with God. Those who proceed, though, to eat or drink in an unexamined way, in an unexamined manner, they are in danger of being guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. They’re in danger of the strictest judgment as you read through the rest of 1 Corinthians 11.

So as we close out another year, we enter into a new year, we have an opportunity. We have an opportunity as a corporate body of believers, all of us together accountable before God, we have an opportunity to confess sin, to reconcile ourselves to God, to reconcile ourselves to one another, and enter into a new year with a clear conscience. Let us examine ourselves.

To be concerned about our approach to the Lord’s table, it’s not something a lot of Christians, a lot of evangelicals, a lot of professing evangelicals, it’s not something they really think about too much. There are even churches who kind of do a “come as you are” individual expression of worship or “whatever” kind of a, approach to the Lord’s table. “Come up, eat, have your own personal experience with God at the communion table.”

That’s not what this is about, and churches who do that really, I think, don’t take the, God’s holiness seriously. We need to take God’s holiness seriously, and that’s what causes us to be concerned about things like self-reflection, self-examination. The Lord’s table and the holiness of God are completely one, united. God’s holiness requires us to think deeply about ourselves, our, our thoughts, our words, our actions even over this past year. We need to refuse the temptation that we have sometimes to justify ourselves, to excuse bad behavior, bad thoughts. We need to examine ourselves in the mirror of Holy Scripture. If we humble ourselves before God, if we’ll confess our sins against him, confess our sins against one another, God is going to, he will draw near to us and bless us. And that’s what we want.

The necessary self-examination is only possible when we recognize the significance, when we recognize the weight of God’s holiness. Sadly, we live in an age in which the holiness of God hardly makes a dent on the lives of many people. There are even many in the church who drift along from work to family to play to church. They drift along, paying very little attention to how God wants them to exercise the stewardship of their lives, their mind, their energies, their time, every other resource.

I think we’ve actually been taught to disregard the holiness of God. Even, even evangelical churches, pastors, leaders over the past four to five decades, I think have trained us to think of God as rather benign, relatively harmless. All the demands of the holiness of God seem to have been removed in the love of Jesus Christ, and I want to emphasize the love of Jesus Christ.

But the truth is, there is no clearer picture of the meaning of holiness than the cross itself. The death of Christ was a satisfaction of the demands of God’s holiness, and that is love, isn’t it? Love and holiness are not at odds. They’re completely unified. But in a theologically anemic time, God and his holiness seemed to fade from view.

In the mid to late 90s, David Wells wrote a series of four books analyzing the state of theology within evangelicalism, within the evangelical church in America, and the title of his first book, No Place for Truth, leaves little doubt about his conclusions. And I want to quote to you, just to read a portion from his second book, God in the Wasteland. And the, the portion I want to bring to you is from chapter 5, which is titled “The Weightlessness of God.”

Here’s what he said. “It’s one of the defining marks of our time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal, but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life. Those who assure the pollsters of their belief in God’s existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgment no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertiser’s sweet fog of flattery and lies. That is weightlessness. It is a condition we’ve assigned him after having nudged him out to the periphery of our secularized life.” End quote.

Keep in mind that what Wells has described, there, it’s not that evangelicals have abandoned the confession of historic orthodoxy. Not at all. Most churches still hand out sound doctrinal statements, post them on their websites. The problem isn’t in what they claim to profess, but in what they fail to practice. David Wells and, and others, by the way, including myself, he’s concerned that, that the doctrines that we affirm bear very little weight on our thought life, on our decisions, our commitments, our speech, and our behavior.

“God and his truth, God and his holiness,” says Wells, “most particularly in this postmodern age, God and his holiness no longer has the power to shape and to summon that it has in previous ages.” Many evangelicals live like practical atheists. They haven’t abandoned the profession of evangelical theology, but they have stopped being troubled by the holiness of the God that they profess.

And I’m afraid many in churches today are in danger of falling under Paul’s condemnation in Titus 1:16, “professing to know God while denying him by their works.” Perhaps they aren’t as overtly sinful as they could be, but they aren’t as overtly Christian as they should be either. And it doesn’t trouble them. When a pastor dares to proclaim, to teach and to exhort the demands of the gospel, the hard truths of discipleship, to many church attendees, his words sound utterly foreign, perhaps even offensive.

But rather than openly engage and confront the discomforting proclamation, and rather than repent, so many evangelicals simply refuse to become unsettled. They realize enough time will mute the voice of conscience, so they become politely indifferent, casually dismissive. They smile pleasantly, carry on with their life, and they’ll outlast the crying prophet.

Decades before David Wells published God in the Wasteland, Aiden Wilson Tozer wrote a series of articles in Alliance Life magazine, warning Christians against worldly indifference to the holiness of God and then calling Christians to a distinctively Christian commitment, a whole different mindset. And his articles were published in a book called This World: Playground or Battleground?

Here’s what he wrote. “Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness in heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other, forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Man, our fathers held, had to choose sides. He could not be neutral. For him it must be life or death, heaven or hell. And if he chose to come out on God’s side, he could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below.

“How different today. Men think of the world not as a battleground, but as a playground. We’re not here to fight; we’re here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we’re at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full.

“The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of, get this, fundamentalist Christians. They might hedge around the question if they were asked bluntly to declare their position, but their conduct gives them away. They’re facing both ways, enjoying Christ and the world, gleefully telling everyone that accepting Jesus does not require them to give up their fun. Christianity is just the jolliest thing imaginable. The worship growing out of such a view of life is as far off-center as the view itself, a sort of sanctified nightclub without the champagne and the dressed-up drunks.

“This whole thing is going to be so serious that it is now the bound duty of all Christians to reexamine their spiritual philosophy in light of the Bible. Having discovered the scriptural way, they must follow it, even if to do so they must separate themselves from what, much that they had accepted as real, but which now, in the light of the truth, is seen to be false. A right view of God in the world to come requires that we have a right view of the world in which we live, and of our relationship to it. So much depends upon this that we cannot afford to be careless about it.” End quote.

Do you agree with that? It’s powerfully stated, isn’t it? And so true. Beloved, we desperately need to recover the battlefield mentality in the church today. We need to realign our mindset with that of our fathers, those in the historic stream of confessional Christianity coming out of the early church and through the church Fathers and through the Reformation Fathers and all the way through the Puritans to us today. We need to realign our mindset with men like that, with women like that, who suffered and died for the faith, those who believe the Bible deeply, who recognize the spiritual nature of our warfare, and who embrace their part in the conflict of their day.

And that means, most fundamentally, we need to feel the weight of the holiness of God with the angels of heaven. As we sang this morning, we sing and proclaim God is holy, holy, holy, and that holiness means something. It leans on us, it confronts us, it exposes us, it rebukes us. And with continued exposure to the holiness of God, we are then sanctified. We, in a word, we become holy as God is holy.

So our duty as Christians is to “perfect holiness in the fear of God,” 2 Corinthians 7.1.  “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity,” 2 Timothy 2:19. And get this: That’s where holiness invades our personal space. It confronts the way we’ve ordered our lives, the way we’ve drifted into living in our lives.

The death of Christ was a satisfaction of the demands of God’s holiness, and that is love.

Travis Allen

The pursuit of holiness is going to bring us into confrontation, isn’t it? And we have three enemies that confront us. The Christian has three enemies, right? The world, the flesh, and the devil. But rather than fight the enemies of holiness on three fronts, I want to make this simple for us. Let’s just focus on one. Think about the world and the devil. They’re really a single enemy. First John 5:19, we learn that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” And Ephesians 2:2 calls the devil “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that’s now at work in the sons of disobedience.”

So the world and the devil are of one accord. They’re in collusion with one another. The unregenerate people of the world really belong to the devil. They’re part of his, you know, his armory of assault weapons against God and against his people. People in the world claim to be free, but they’re, they’re really only free to do the devil’s will, aren’t they, to sin, to rebel against God. That is not freedom. That is bondage of the worst sort.

But let’s clarify this just a little bit further. The world, the devil, and his demonic forces, those enemies, all of them, are external to us, aren’t they? They’re outside of us, and their objective is singular. It’s to get us to sin. They want to tempt us, to put stumbling blocks in front of us. Why? Because they want us to sin. They want to neutralize our effectiveness. And our sin always gives Satan the opportunity to slander God. His real enemy is God. We are the pawns that he uses to do that, to execute his warfare.

Jesus faced the same enemies external to him: the devil, demonic forces, the world around him. But he overcame. He overcame. He never fell to one them, he always remained holy. He was always standing firm before a holy God, his Father. He never succumbed to the solicitations of these external enemies. The devil and the world had no power over him. Did he feel those temptations? Absolutely. More powerfully than you or I ever will. Under the unrelenting pressure of temptation, we are eventually going to give in, aren’t we? We’ll never, never feel or, or exhaust the temptation and last. If Satan, if God let Satan do it, he could always turn up the pressure, turn up the screws, and we, we’d break, we’d crumble, we’d give in.

Jesus felt that unrelated, unrelenting weight of temptation. But since he never gave in, he endured it to the uttermost. He endured every provocation from man and devil. He outlasted them all. He exhausted the temptations, and he exhausted the tempter, and the tempter left him. He never broke.

What makes us different? Well, unlike Jesus, the world and the devil have an ally buried deep within us. It’s the Christian’s third enemy, what Paul calls “the flesh.” It’s that sin principle that abides within us. The flesh is our weakness, making us vulnerable and susceptible to the temptations that come from the world and the devil. So we might call the flesh “the enemy within.” It’s nearer, more dangerous, more treacherous, and often more hidden to us than our, any of our external enemies are. And since the flesh is indwelling, it’s always with us, isn’t it, always abiding there. We can never escape its influence. We’re always susceptible to its straying.

The flesh is in constant opposition to God and his holiness, and it’s there with us. Paul teaches in Galatians 5:17, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do,” right? You feel that.

So listen, this is very important to understand. As we seek to recover our own sense of the holiness of God, as we seek to recover a battlefield mentality in the Christian life, we need to identify and take aim at the enemy within.

The world? Those are unbelievers that are duped by Satan, enslaved to their passions and lusts, dead in trespasses and sins. Yeah, the world is opposed to God, sure, but those people aren’t our enemies, per se. They’re our mission field. The devil? Demons? Are those are enemies? Yeah, sure, they’re enemies, but God is going to dispatch those unholy angels. He is the one who’s going to deal with them summarily, completely, finally. He’ll sentence them to an eternity in hell.

So we don’t put on our weapons and go to war, march out against Satan in the demonic realm even if they are making war against us. Ephesians 6 warns us about that. Biblically, to stand firm and to resist the devil means we’re to resist temptation. We’re right back to the enemy within, aren’t we? We’re to turn away from his solicitations toward evil. So our most immediate enemy is the enemy within. It’s sin.

For too long, the weight of God’s holiness has rested too inconsequentially on the church. For too long, professing Christians have lived their lives as if their lives belong to them and not to God. They’ve been playing when they ought to have been at war.

Listen, there’s a remedy to all that. The Holy God can and will make an impact on our daily lives. He’ll affect the character of our church if each one of us will recommit ourselves to engage the daily battle with sin.

And to serve that end, I’d like you to turn in your Bibles to Colossians chapter 3, Colossians chapter 3. All that was introduction, and in the time remaining I’d like to take just a few moments in Colossians 3:5 to motivate you to engage the enemy with the interest of pursuing holiness, “without which,” Hebrews 12:14 says, “no one will see the Lord.” So we’re going to focus on Colossians 3:5.

But let’s put this in context, and then I’ll start back in verse 1, read through verse 7. Paul writes, “If then,” or we could say, we translate that “since then,” “you’ve been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you’ve died and your life is hidden with Christ and God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

“Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you, sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these things, the wrath of God is coming. And in these you, too, once walked when you were living in them, but now you must put them all away, anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk, from your mouth.” Let’s stop there.

The imperative that you see there in verse 5 is our call to action. Put your sin to death. The verb is nekroo, from which we get that prefix, “necro,” meaning death. Mortify your sin. Kill it. And the kind of action that is required by this command is urgent, summary, wholesale action. Do not compromise with sin. Do not cherish it, minimize it, coddle it. Give it no quarter whatsoever. Kill it.

To deal decisively, summarily, and unsympathetically with our sin like this, it requires us to expose and acknowledge our attitudes towards sin. It requires us to recognize and wrestle with our will, right? You’ve got to be willing to kill your sin before you actually kill it, right? You have to have the will. You have to have a desire, and to be willing. You have to have a prejudiced attitude against your sin. You’re never going to put to the sword what you love and what you cherish. So you need to see sin from God’s perspective, from the vantage point of holiness, and that’ll cause you to hate your sin and give you the motivation you need to put it to death.

Now the earthly body is what remains of the former self, Colossians 3:9. You can look at it there. Paul personifies his, this old way of thinking that still influences us. He calls it the, “the old man” or “the old self.” The old man is dead. It is put to death. It’s cut off. It’s put off from us at the point of salvation.

But what remains in us as believers, what we might call the corpse of the old man, is really like a proclivity we feel towards sin. We might say it’s our temptability, our habits of thinking, that which draws us towards sin. Paul calls it the “body of sin” in Romans 6:6. That’s the flesh, the sin principle that remains active within our unglorified bodies. The flesh, it’s like, it’s like a deep-seated set of habits of ungodly thinking. It’s like programming in a computer, a pattern of unrighteous acting and reacting. And as nebulous as it sounds, and it is hard to identify, whatever it is, we need to kill it. We need to put it to death.

Problem is, the flesh is like a zombie. The old man just refuses to stay dead. We’ve got to keep on killing it over and over and over. It keeps coming back, coming after us, so we’ve got to keep on killing it over and over again. That’s why John Owen, the Puritan theologian-pastor, says, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

What does it mean to kill sin? How do you put to death something as intangible as a thought that enters your mind? If you think about it, “kill” is the perfect metaphor. Makes perfect sense. Here’s how John Owen explained it. He said, “To kill a man or any other living thing is to take away the principle of all its strength, vigor, and power, so that he cannot act or exert or put forth any proper actings of his own. The mortification of indwelling sin remaining in our mortal bodies means that sin may not have life and power to bring forth the works of the deeds of the flesh. This is the constant duty of believers.”

So to kill sin, to put to death what’s earthly in you, it’s to render those sinful thoughts, attitudes, and desires as ineffective. It’s to make them unproductive. It’s to not let them bear the fruit or give birth to actual transgression, or to make sure those sinful strayings then are powerless to bring forth the deeds of the flesh. We’ve got to choke the life out of it, deny sin what it needs to survive.

I don’t have time to elaborate now, but the key to all this is in Galatians 5:16: “Walk by the Spirit and,” what, “you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The life of the Spirit suffocates the desires of the flesh. If you occupy yourselves with spiritual pursuits, what pleases the Holy Spirit, guess what? No time to gratify the desires of the flesh. Notice “the flesh” in verse 5, Colossians 3:5. This earthly body has members: immorality, impurity, passion, evil, desire and greed or covetousness as it describes there. Just as your body has members or parts to it, arms, legs, hands, feet, so does the old man. That zombie has five parts: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed or covetousness.

Let’s look at them real quick. “Immorality,” that’s the word porneia. You recognize that from our porn-saturated world. Porneia, this is the main New Testament word for sexual immorality. It includes a lot: fornication, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, all of it. It’s all wrapped up into that word, “immorality.”

“Impurity,” this word is, particularly in the context, here, with porneia, also has like a sexual connotation to it, but it’s the degrade, degradation, or the defilement, or this vile uncleanness that always accompanies porneia. It’s impure. It makes us impure. It makes us unholy. We feel the defilement of it.

The next word, “passion,” pathos. Stoics used to use this word to refer to someone who is dominated by their shifting emotions, by ever-changing feelings. People today might excuse this as like a chemical imbalance or manic depression or something like that. But however you choose to diagnose it, the Bible calls it sin and commands that you put it to death.

“Evil desire.” “Evil desire,” it refers to all wicked lusts, longings, desires. It’s not just sexual cravings, but it includes it. It’s any self-centered desire, anything. Prideful ambition, self promoting thought, motive, anything that’s not good that we desire.

The last word, “greed” or “covetousness,” literally this means a desire for more, wanting more. It’s the opposite of godly contentment. It’s insatiable greed. It gives fuel to longings and cravings that are never satisfied. That’s the way sinners are, right? Always pursuing something, like animals always rooting around for the next tidbit or morsel.

Now, these members of the earthly bodies sound absolutely ghastly when you read them in black and white like that, don’t they? They sound terrible. I mean ugly, very, very obvious to identify, right? Understand this, though: They can cloak themselves in respectability, in dignity. They could become quite accepted in polite company like a church.

In fact, it’s especially true that in the church, where service, teaching, ministry, they can be vehicles for fulfilling evil desire and greed, it’s sad to say. People who have like a overly excited concern for policy or, or even a zeal for passionate worship, those things can be veiled expressions of this passion, unbridled emotionalism. Even an outward pursuit of doctrinal fidelity can be nothing but an internal pursuit of pride and ambition. I know you’ve experienced that. You’ve seen it. And we need to look no further than the scandals that have afflicted church members and church leaders to see signs of immorality and the resulting impurity. To our shame, we see it in the church.

Folks, all those things, all those sins exist within the walls of the church. Why? Because we bring them in, don’t we? We walk in with our own flesh. We need to be on guard. By the grace of God, none of us are as bad as we could be, but the members of our earthly body are always there, ever present, ready to insinuate division and destruction and degrade. If we don’t put them to death, look what they’ll produce, verse 8, rotten fruit: anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech. It all just goes south from there.

You need to see sin from God’s perspective, from the vantage point of holiness, and that’ll cause you to hate your sin and give you the motivation you need to put it to death.

Travis Allen

Listen, on this you cannot give yourself a pass. You can’t say, “I don’t fit into this.” This Bible’s written to all of us. Paul wrote the Colossian letter to the Colossian church. These are church people, Christians. Beloved, we all fit into this. We all need to take this seriously.

Someone wrote a book recently, I can’t remember the author’s name, but it’s called Respectable Sins. Respectable sins aren’t respectable; they’ve just got the guise of respectability about them. But they’re all this stuff here. We have to hunt down those attitudes in ourselves and mortify them, kill them. You can’t have any affection, any compassion, any tenderness towards your sin and sin nature. You’ve got to kill it without remorse.

And mortification, as A. W. Tozer pointed out, this battle, it’s not a one-time thing. We don’t get it over with and then enjoy the spoils of war. We fight for the rest of our lives don’t we? We’ve got to embrace this as a life-and-death fight over the long haul. This is going to last for the rest of your earthly life.

This is how John Owen put it. He said, “There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on. And it will be so whilst we live in this world. When sin lets us alone, we may let sin alone, but as sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be the most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep when they are still, so ought our contrivances against it to be vigorous at all times and in all conditions, even when there is the least suspicion.”

We’ve got to engage this enemy. We have to fight it because whether we sense it’s present or not, still waters run deep, don’t they? Sin is always on attack. Be killing sin or sin will be killing you. Our sin is what provoked the wrath of our Holy God. Our sin is what put Jesus on the cross, causing Jesus to endure the full fury of divine wrath for our sin.

So learn to hate it. Learn to despise it, every little whisper, every little stray thought, learn to hate it, just as God hates and despises it. That’s what verses 6-7 are meant to provoke in you, a negative affection for the hate, you know, of hatred for sin. It says, “For it’s on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked when you were living in them.”

The memory of your past sin in verse 7, there, that should repulse you; it shouldn’t tempt you, attract you. You should be ashamed of that, should evoke feelings of regret. And as you look ahead, then, to Christ’s return, his sure and certain return, we don’t want to do anything or be found doing anything that is anywhere associated with remaining sin. We want to stay as far away as possible.

Okay. So you say, “Okay, I get it. I give. I’m convinced. I get it. I need to recover my sense of holiness of God. I, I want the weight of God’s holiness to impress itself upon me. I want it to be felt in my life and my church. I’m going to mortify remaining sin. Great. What’s the first step? What should we do first?”

Take a look there, the little phrase at the end of Colossians 3:5. This is going to drive a stake in the heart of your sinful flesh. Paul says, “Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you: sexual morality and impurity, passion, evil, desire and covetousness,” what does it say, “which is idolatry.”

Idolatry. There it is. There’s the key. If you want to kill sin at the root, if you want to cut out its heart, if you want to strike a death blow to all the members of your earthly body at once, here’s the decapitation strike. Strike at the heart of worship. What do you worship? What you worship is at the level of your affections, what you love, what you hate; and that last member of your earthly body, the greed or the covetousness, that is the pulsating heartbeat of idolatry.

And here’s the source of all idolatry: 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world, nor the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. For all that’s in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but it’s from the world.”

That little short epistle of 1 John, it ends on the same note, warning us to examine what we really love, and it’s rather abrupt, and as such it makes a really powerful point. John ends the epistle saying this: “Little children, guard yourself from idols.” Period, end of book. The Apostle Paul gave a similar warning, but the opposite way, and he strengthened it with a curse. In 1 Corinthians 16:22: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed.” Wow! So here’s the message: Don’t love or worship idols. Love and worship the Lord alone, or be damned to hell. Strong stuff.

There are serious implications to what we love and what we hate, serious implications to what we embrace and worship and what we banish from our affections. That’s why we’re, the main battlefield for us is in the heart. It’s inside of us. It’s in our minds. It’s our thinking. Taking the field against our sin, confronting our idolatry and lack of love for and worship of Christ: That is the essence of taking holiness seriously.

Father, you are holy, holy, holy, and like Moses we long to draw near to you in holiness and truth. We thank you for the opportunity this morning to confess our sins and clear our consciences before you, to renew our commitment to repent of sin and to mortify remaining sin. We want all that because we want your holy presence to weigh heavily on us and our church. We make all these commitments in full view and conscious recognition of the body and the blood of the Lord, so please draw near to us. Please bless us. Help us to please you by glorifying Christ and his saving gospel. It’s in his precious and holy name that we pray. Amen.