On one hand, it was necessary for Paul to counter the demands of extreme religious teachers.
He wrote, “Why do you submit to regulations, ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’”? (Colossians 2.20-21)
On the other hand, when Christian freedom is proclaimed some may be tempted to say, “God and I have a deal. He likes to forgive and I like to sin.”
The overarching theme of Paul’s message is “if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is” (Colossians 3.1).
In keeping with the central theme, some things should be eliminated in order to live a balanced Christian life.
Colossians 3.5-10 – Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).
On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.
These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.
But now you must get rid of all such things: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices
And have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.
Put to Death Sexual Sin
The believers’ baptism is the background for these verses. Baptism signifies the death of the old person and the resurrection to a new life.
Verse 5 lists various ways that sexual sin may be active in a person’s life. One of the surest ways to feel separated from God is to engage in some form of sexual sin.
We can’t “seek the things that are above” (verse 1) and be a part of sexual sin at the same time.
Some Bible teachers believe that “greed” embraces sexual sin. At its root, a greedy person is not satisfied with what they have. They crave more and desire a sexual relationship that is not rightfully theirs.
When people worship idols, they serve a substitute for the One True God. When we give ourselves over to sexual sin, we choose the idol of sin instead of a relationship with God.
Let’s Be Clear!
In recent days, a high-profile pastor has stepped down from his position because of sexual sin. In this case, a text and Instagram relationship between the pastor and another woman was exposed and he resigned from his position.
I am happy that I didn’t have to make a decision about this pastor’s role in ministry. What I find sad is that the next portion of Paul’s message is easily disregarded by the clergy, while they remain leaders of their churches.
Why is not “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language” (verse 8) treated with the same strictness as sexual sin?
The sin of destructive speech causes harm to the church, just as does the sexual sin of her leaders and members.
A Speck Inspector
When I write as I have done in the above paragraphs, I am reminded of Jesus’ words.
— Matthew 7.3-5 – “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye but do not notice the log in your own eye?
“Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”
I am a good speck inspector. I’m sure there is a “log” in my eye, but it is easier to see another person’s faults rather than mine.
I don’t write to condemn but to caution.
As I apply Paul’s message to myself, I know that sins of sex and speech must be avoided.
I also believe that the best remedy to overcome sin is to follow Paul’s earlier directions.
— Colossians 3.1 – Seek the things that are above, where Christ is.
— Colossians 3.2 – Set your mind on the things that are above.
— Colossians 3.3 – Make sure your life is hidden with Christ in God.
— Colossians 3.4 – Live in the reality that Christ is your life.
When we are filled with God’s goodness, there is little room for the sins that trip us up.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. It can be seen on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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