Devotional # 160. 10/26/15. Colossians 3:8-11.
Intro. The last time we were in Colossians we talked about sexual sins like “fornication” and “passion” but we said we no longer live in those sins so we shouldn’t be walking in the same way non-Christians are. This week we have another list of sins but I encourage you not to look at it as just a list. A lot of times the sexual sins we just saw in vv. 5-7 are looked at as “big sins” whereas the ones in verse 8 are maybe looked at as “lesser”. But Paul’s desire is that we are changed in every area of our lives, not just the “big” stuff.
v. 8. Paul starts off with “but now you yourselves are to put off all these:” I’m interested in what the original Greek for “put off“. It’s one word, apotithemi(G659), which means “to put away (literally or figuratively)” or “renounce” (Source 1). We’ve talked about this idea before and it’s not like taking off a coat (which can easily put back on) but it’s like throwing the coat off a cliff…on fire! It’s completely wanting nothing to do with it any more. Let’s see what a few of the sins are that we should have heaved off the side of a cliff…on fire, long ago.
“Anger” – Since Jesus is our representation of God we see the proper way God handles things by looking at what Jesus did and said. Jesus was “angry” at points in the New Testament. For example in Mark 1:43 he “sternly charged” the leper not to tell anyone about Him, in Mark 10:13-16 Jesus was angry with the disciples when they tried to send away the mothers and children and of course the most famous story when Jesus was angry with the moneychangers in the temple (Matthew 21:12). But this “anger” was perfect because Jesus was perfect. It was not sin because it had no ill will towards the person or people but instead at those people’s sins. When Paul talks about this “anger” that is sin for us he means when we are upset with an unrighteous anger. It’s not good enough to say ‘someone sinned against me, so I have a right to be angry with them.’ For all the many things Jesus has done to be our brother and friend, He is also separate from us being God. And in being such you’ll notice it was never about Jesus’ “right” or “pride” being wounded, it was never because he was embarrassed that He was angry.
“Wrath” – Interestingly we were just talking about “wrath” two weeks ago. But notice that difference “because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (3:6) and “put off…wrath.” Why is it OK for God to have “wrath” but not us? The quick answer is: “because He is God and He says so.” But as humans we don’t like that, we want an explanation. So the longer version would be that God knows everything and His wrath is holy and just. Since He is the only one who can righteously bring “wrath” He is the only one who can bring salvation. We can do neither. Our judgment is clouded and our wrath is in the heat of the moment. When God judges it is outside of time and space and therefore not with a biased mind or other outside influences. But we have all of those things and that’s why we should not be “wrathful.”
“Malice” – The word “malice” is kakia (G2549) in the Greek and means “ill-will” or “a desire to injure” or “wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws” (Source 2). This above the others mentioned here seems like the most outwardly evil sin. It really makes me question how a person could call themselves a Christian and desire “ill-will” of other believers. Granted, it may be hidden down deep in our heart and it doesn’t come to the surface of our mind until we’ve prayed that God would reveal to us our heart.
“Blasphemy” – The word here is blasphemia (G#988) and can be defined as “slander” or “reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty” (Source 3). What that means is when people reject the Holy Spirit’s calling they are actually insulting Him and saying He is a liar and they will not be forgiven for that sin (Matthew 12:31). Another example is when we say that Jesus is not God (John 10:33) or when we say He cannot forgive sins (Luke 5:21). Now most Christians would not say it in the clear and concise way that I just did. But often we think blasphemous things, making ourselves better than our Lord, trying to be our own savior or the savior of someone else.
“filthy language out of your mouth” – We’ve talked about “filthy language” before, for example almost exactly a year ago when we were in Ephesians 5:3-4 (Devotional 106). In fact the week before that we read Ephesians 4:30-32 (Devotional 105) and we tied the idea of saying ‘I can’t help cussing’ being just like saying, ‘Jesus doesn’t have the power to change my life’, which is a composition of “blasphemy” and “filthy language.”
vv. 9-10. Why does Paul separate the “lying” that the Colossians were doing? Why didn’t he just add it in with the list of bad stuff he just gave? He separates it because they were “lying” to each other. It’s bad if they were “lying” to non-Christians but it’s even worse that they were lying to each other. What were they lying about? We can’t be completely sure but I can hypothesize having been in enough churches made up of broken people. He could have been talking about when we’re at church and someone asks how we are and we say “fine” but really we’re hurting or angry or frustrated. Instead of confiding in that person we just tell them we’re OK. Maybe they don’t seem to have the time, maybe we’re afraid, maybe we’ve shared with someone before and they stabbed us in the back but whatever the reason – we’re lying to our sisters and brothers. Or maybe we embellish a conversation making ourselves sound more spiritual than we were but – we’re lying to our sisters and brothers. Or maybe other Christians are needy or annoying and ask us to hang out or go to lunch or take a trip with them and we say we’re busy but – we’re lying to our sisters and brothers.
The reason given is that we’ve put off the old person we once were. So we come upon the “put off” idea again but now we’re told what we’ve “put on.” Let’s look at the next verse.
v. 11. I love how so many biblical teachings are connected here! As we’re told in Genesis 1:27 we were created in the image of God. But when we sinned it distorted our image and our ability to automatically live eternally with Him. But when Jesus died on the cross for our sins He restored our ability to live eternally with God. Now we must choose but the work has been done for us. Now we can be a “new creation” which is essentially what we would have been prior to sin. And when humans were created in the image of God was He a Caucasian God? Was He Chinese? No, the races were split up because of sin at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) so it doesn’t matter who you are (Hebrew, Greek, Scythian, Hungarian, American, etc.) when we become a “new creation” we are back in the image of God. We are able to take part in the “nature of God” (according to 2 Peter 1:4). All of this points to a line drawn in the sand, a difference from how we were before we accepted Christ and how we are after. If we act the same way as the rest of the world what was the change? A “new creation” agrees that the “old us” has been “put off” (of a cliff…on fire!) and there is something “new” that wasn’t there before. So only then does it makes sense that “Christ is all” (as in ‘everything we can ever need’) and “in all” (as in ‘dwelling in anyone willing to accept Him, regardless of race or gender or other prejudice)!
Conclusion. The two things that I took away from this study is: 1. the need for me to be constantly conscious of my heart toward other believers, and 2. How cool it is that God created us in His image and has taken steps to put us back to that place, regardless of our race or family or religious practices. Will you pray over these things in your own life?
Source 1: apotithemi (G659), https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G659&t=KJV .
Source 2: kakia (G2549), https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2549&t=KJV .
Source 3: blasphemia (G#988), https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G988&t=KJV .