Christ - Our Life
We have in Colossians 3:1-17 a treasure house of practical instruction for Christian living. We will look at verses 4 through 8 today. Before we do so, let's review verses 1 through 3:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
This speaks of the Gospel message (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ). If you have been born again then you have become dead to sin and alive to Christ. For this reason, God is asking you to set your heart on the things of God and not set them upon those things which have no eternal value. Let's continue on with the following verses in Colossians chapter 3 (which are all speaking to those who have been born again):
4. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
This speaks of Christ' promise to come back one day for his own.
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
I John 2:28
5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
6. For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In these verses God, who is holy and righteous, is revealing to us the seriousness of sin (it brings his wrath) and he is telling us very bluntly what to do about the sins in our lives. God says to mortify them. This means to kill them. He does not say to ignore them, appease them, minimized them, or control them. He says very plainly to kill them. God says we are to kill them because one day we will be with him and we will give account to him of how we have lived. Then God gets specific about these sins.
Fornication: Sexual sin before marriage. Sometimes sexual sin in general. Can refer to spiritual deviancy also.
Uncleanness: Physical or moral impurity.
Inordinate affection: Lust.
Evil concupiscence: A longing for that which is forbidden.
Covetousness: An eagerness or greed for things that do not belong to us. This is idolatry because it is in effect telling God that we disapprove of his provision for us and we intend to replace him with another god who will give us the things that we want. Often this god is our self.
7. In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
God is telling us that these are sins that are typical of our old life (before salvation) and should not be part of our new life.
8. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
In this verse God is telling us to put off (throw away, get rid of, abandon) the following things:
Anger: Not all anger is bad. A Christian should be angry with sin (whether in someone else's life or their own). It is right to be angry when God is blasphemed. It is right to be angry when the defenseless are being hurt. But it is never right to sin while being angry. The Greek word for anger in this verse has to do with a different kind of anger. It is a violent passion that can result in vengeance.
Wrath: The Greek word here comes from another Greek word which means to breath hard, blow, or smoke. Have you ever heard someone say that someone was so angry that it was as if smoke was coming out of their ears? That gives you a sense of the meaning of wrath in this verse. Malice: This is downright badness; the deliberate causing of harm or distress to someone else. It can very easily result from wrath.
Blasphemy: To speak words that vilify someone (especially to vilify God).
Filthy communication out of your mouth: This is shameful or vile speech. This includes "cussing" and taking God's name in vain but it is not limited to these things. It is any speech that you should be ashamed of if God was standing right beside you while you were speaking.
It is instructive to understand that all of God's commands above are directed specifically toward those who have been saved and are risen with Christ. You see, as Christians we still have a sin nature and we must recognize that we are all capable of sinning in any of the ways that God lists above. When we do commit any of these sins, we must not ignore them. We must recognize that Jesus Christ suffered the wrath of his Father while bearing these specific sins of yours and mine on the cross. If we love God we will humble ourselves before him, confess our sins, by his power treat these sins in the manner that he has instructed us, receive his gracious forgiveness, and go back to living for him.
If you are not "risen with Christ" and Christ has never become "your life" then why not repent of your sin, believe the Gospel, and receive him as your Saviour today by simple child-like faith?