Colossians 3:1 – 11
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.
8But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
Those new moon festivals and regulations about what to touch or taste were human commands and teachings – but the Colossian Christians have been raised in Christ, having already died with him. They should seek out Christ, things from above, not earthly things – they should grow spiritually, not just follow human regulations.
They should put to death all the things within them which hold them to “earthly” things. Paul begins a list here, and adds to it in the next paragraph. Paul begins his list with “fornication”; this word does not mean a particular sexual sin, as some would have us believe, but refers to all sexual sins. He adds impurity – a heart focused on things outside God; passion – passion itself is not a bad thing, one can be passionate about Christ, or express passion in one’s work or in one’s marriage, so Paul is talking here about passion for earthly things; evil desire – one can desire all sorts of things, here Paul specifies “evil” desire, a wish for something one should not have, again, this does not have to be sexual – you might have an “evil desire” for someone else’s property, perhaps their car; and greed, which Paul says is idolatry. Think about it – if I am more in love with my possessions than with God, I am worshipping things, and that is idolatry. It all comes down to selfishness rather than God-centeredness, as we said yesterday.
And then Paul adds to the list – get rid of these things as well – anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. It is interesting to note today that people who are the most ready to condemn another person on the basis of the first list (and their own misinterpretation of the opening word), are among the most likely to be angry, filled with wrath and malice (evil intent), to slander people they don’t agree with, and to use abusive language. Remember, the use of abusive language against anyone is as much a sin as those other things Paul lists! Things we say can be hurtful to people!
Paul says that instead of these things, the Colossian Christians should clothe themselves in the new self, renewed in the knowledge of Christ, as human beings were truly created to be. In that new creation, living in the kingdom of God in the present, people are renewed as children of God – they are no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free – but Christ is all and in all!