5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. NIV
Since v5 begins with a “therefore”, read again vs1-4 from Reading #10: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. NIV
These four verses encapsulate the magnificent truths Paul articulated in Chapters 1 and 2. Now read vs5-11 again, thinking about them from the context of vs1-4.
Because you have been made new in Christ, you are constantly being renewed by Christ, through his Spirit’s work in you. To this point in the letter, Paul presented rich doctrinal truths about Jesus Christ and his people. From this point forward, the letter shifts from conveying God’s truths to describing how God’s people, who are enveloped in those truths, must strive to live. Beginning in 3:5, the practical aspects of living in God’s will day in and day out are clearly presented.
The first command is that you are to put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature. The earthly nature is the part of you that was crucified and buried with Christ. The reason you still carry some of those tendencies is because you still live in a mortal body. The effects of your old earthly nature are still in you because sin propensities remain embedded in your physical body. You are to murder each of these temptations every time they arise, by God’s grace and strength. They are listed: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Do not lie to each other…
There is no place for any form of sexual impurity in God’s kingdom. That means there is to be no adultery, pre-marital sex, heavy petting, sexual flirting, homosexuality, bisexuality, cross-dressing, transsexual activity or pornography. God’s people are to honor human life as sacred. Sexual sins are incredibly pervasive in our culture and you’re bombarded with them every day. What’s worse is our culture now accepts many sexual sins as normal, entitled behavior. What God judges as sexual sins are considered as personal rights in today’s society. Tolerance is the highest value.
God created sexual intimacy to be enjoyed within the sacred covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. Everything outside of that God judges as a sexual sin that defies his design for his people. There are many passages that speak to this. One of the most articulate passages addressing the sin of homosexuality is Romans 1:18-32. In today's passage in Colossians, the sins listed with sexual sins are interrelated. Evil desires, greed and lying are rooted in sexual immorality, impurity and lust.
What is God’s solution for temptations to sexual sins? Kill them! Whenever the temptation comes, murder the idea. Flee the moment. Cry out according to the request in 1:11 and ask your Father to strengthen you with all power according to his glorious might so that you can put the thought to death. Do not flirt with the idea. Stop thinking about it and murder it! Ask your Father to fill you with the full understanding of his will so that your heart's eyes are wide open to how he views that particular temptation to sexual sin. You must take up this battle because you have been made a warrior of holiness in Christ. Paul reminded you in v7 that you used to live this way but no more. The old you is done and the new you is being renewed by God. You are his beloved, Christ's ambassador everywhere you go and in everything you do.
Like dirty wet clothes, v8 commands you to throw off the leftovers of your old nature such as: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language (v8). Do you see how these five sins are interrelated? You must deal with small outbursts of anger before they escalate into rage, malice and slander that produces filthy language. Again, these sins are especially rooted in the sexual sins in vs5-7.
Maybe you don’t have to wrestle frequently with these kinds of temptations. If not, thank your Father in the heavens. And realize that the potential is still in you. The only thing lacking is the opportunity. Be fully aware of the potential that resides within your mortal body to commit terrible sins. To combat the old nature’s inclinations to sin, you must be intentional.
Commit yourself to renewing the new you. Keep God’s words in your heart. Think about his promises. The worst thing you could do is to take the new you for granted and assume you’re good to go. You are not. You and every follower of Jesus on the planet needs continual renewal in their hearts and minds. Continue feeding your soul from the Bible, sermons and books and Biblically sound music. Avoid the things that are far from God’s ways and be careful which movies and TV shows you watch. Be wise about the people you hang out with and the sites you visit on the web. Keep asking yourself: Whator who is currently having the greatest influence on me?
The new you is being renewed in the knowledge of the image of its Creator (v10). Wait, read that sentence again. The word for “knowledge” has a special prefix that makes it “full and complete” knowledge and understanding. God is helping you to know him better so that you become more and more devoted to him and appreciative of him. He is restoring you to be like his Son, nothing less will do. He will not give up renewing you. The way you cooperate in this process is to rely on him to help you put sexual sins and greed to death and to throw off anger and all that is associated with it.
There is one last verse to consider. Why did the Spirit inspire Paul to write v11 here? It is through being renewed by God, as his newly created person, that you can realize how all followers are equal in Christ. There are no cultural, educational, race or economic tiers in the Kingdom. No one is better or less valuable than anyone else and everyone needs to be constantly renewed. We are, of course, at different places in our spiritual maturity, but that too is by the grace of God of which Christ is all and in all. All that is good in every follower comes to them directly from the Father. They can take no credit. Instead of considering yourself better or worse than another disciple, realize that both of you are hidden with Christ in God and and in need of regular renewal.
- Spend time thanking God that he has made you new and that he loves you just the way you are today. He loves you so much that he will not let you stay this way. He will keep renewing you.
- Confess each time you follow the temptations of the old you, and be very specific with your Father for your own sake.