Col 3:8-11 “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”
In verse five, Paul has given us an inventory of our earthly members (“…fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry…”). He has counseled us that we should mortify (subdue) these things. Christ is our life (Col 3:4), and these things have no place. However, since we appear with Him in glory, there is a greater depth to our self-denial.
In addition to those things in verse five, Paul advises us to lay aside other worldly tendencies as well. The first thing he tells us to “put off” is anger. Strong’s defines this word to mean “violent passion” or “punishment.” While, again by definition, there may be times that anger is justifiable, Paul tells us to put it away.
Those of us who are blessed to have siblings probably remember occasions in the past when a natural brother or sister was doing something that we knew was not pleasing to our parents. We may have felt is necessary to instruct or try to punish them in some way. While they may have been breaking the rules and punishment was justifiable, my parents were quick to point out that it was not my job. I am persuaded that the only way for me to be angry and yet not sin (Eph 4:26) is to put my anger away: it is not my job.
Along with anger, we are to put away wrath. Most of the time we tend to consider these terms to be synonymous, but it would appear that is not the case. Wrath indicates a passionate indignation. Wrath is more a state of being while anger is actually more closely tied to action. God justly had a passionate indignation (wrath) toward our sin, but His anger (punishment) was poured out upon our Lord and Savior. Since we are all sinners saved by grace, it is good for us to lay aside wrath: again, it is not my place.
We need to be careful to lay aside malice. Malice is defined as depravity, malignity (extreme enmity), or trouble. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:15 that Christ abolished the enmity that separated us from God. Seeing Christ has abolished that enmity, we have no right or reason to have malice towards others. To do so makes us like the wicked servant in the parable Jesus taught in Matthew 18:23-33.
Blasphemy (vilification – see Strong’s) is to speak evil of someone (including God), or to be abusive by speech or writing in an attempt to reduce the importance of someone or something. To portray God as a being that needs the permission of His creation before He can act is blasphemy. To speak evil of those that Christ shed His precious blood for is also blasphemy. Blasphemy is linked to filthy communication coming out of our mouths.
Filthy communication is not just about telling “dirty” jokes. Filthy communication is anything that dishonors God, attempts to reduce the importance of Christ, the necessity of the Holy Ghost, or the beauty of church. Words matter, because they come forth from the heart and pollute the man (Mat 15:18). If our affection (heart) is set on things above, then we will lay aside filthy communication.
We are to lay aside any effort to deceive each other. Having put off the old man, I must readily confess to you that I am a sinner saved by grace. Any gifts or talents that I have, I have because I have received them from God and they are His. Any goodness that you might see in me is Him. I am, with Paul, the chief of sinners. Do not worship me; do not honor me; do not look to me. I have no desire to lie to you and have you think that I am anything: Christ is all!
When we are dead with Christ and raised with Christ, we have, through Christ, put on the new man. That new man is renovated (see Strong’s definition of “renewed”) in knowledge. Many of us are familiar with the popular TV show “Fixer Upper.” We have a visual understanding of what renovation (renewal) can do. Renovation takes an existing structure and improves it in ways that make the finished product unrecognizable from what was started with. We are renovated in the knowledge we receive from God. Our change is nothing short of miraculous, and where there once stood a vile wretch we now bear a resemblance to our Creator! Once we have been made over (renewed, renovated) to resemble our Creator, labels begin to lose their meaning.
Under the law covenant, there were Jews and Gentiles (everybody else). Legal systems differentiate between circumcision and uncircumcision (outward signs of a covenant administered by men’s hands). While Jews despised the Greeks as being “Gentiles,” the Greeks despised everyone that was not a Greek (Barbarian). Scythians were savages by anybody’s standards. Slaves desired to be free and free men felt superior to slaves.
Once we put on the new man, “us and them” ceases to exist. We seek after our Lord and Savior. Our view of His kingdom comes from Him who is our head, and that is where sight resides. He is all, and He is in all. Once we are able to see Him everywhere (including in ourselves), we gladly lay aside anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy communication.
May we truly acknowledge Him as our all and acknowledge Him in all!