PUT OFF ALL THESE
Colossians 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.
Having put on Christ in baptism, one becomes a Christian, a member of His body, a member of the church of Christ, in which there is total equality of mankind. Within His church, as the lesson text states, there is no distinction between Greeks and Jews; all are brothers and sisters in Christ. Admission into His church is neither based on circumcision nor uncircumcision. Whether one comes from a background as uncivilized as those considered to be Barbarians, or as uncultured, rude, and savage as those that migrated from far away Scythian nations, it is of no consequence in the body of Christ. One born free, or having purchased freedom, has no advantage in the church of Christ over one that is subject to the bondage of slavery. Freedom does not assure salvation; neither does slavery prevent one from becoming a child of God. To this list, Paul adds, that in His body, there is no distinction between either male or female (Gal. 3:28). Truly, God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
Neither heritage, nationality, color of skin, gender, nor status of life are distinctions in the sight of God. When one becomes a member of His church, Jesus Christ becomes their all in all. Being complete in Jesus, all members of His body are equal, both in duty and responsibility as servants, as well as in blessings and privileges as heirs of His kingdom. A newborn Christian becomes a new person. They experience a new manner of life, new priorities in life, a new manner of speech, new social and work ethics, and a new family of fellow Christians.
In order for a new child of God to grow and remain faithful, the person they used to be - the old person they once were, must be put off. Just as clean clothes replace those that have become soiled and dirty, so the old man with his deeds must be put off. This same truth is confirmed in Paul's letter to the Christians at Corinth: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
The deeds of non-Christians include many that are not found in faithful Christians, because they are, by direct and inferred commandments, disallowed by God, in the conduct of the lives of His children. In the lesson text, Paul lists a number of deeds, prevalent in worldly societies, that are not to be a part of the conversation, or manner of life, of those in the body of Christ. Although the list could be expanded to include many other similar sinful deeds, those listed here, were evidently the ones that were specifically needed to be stressed to the children of God in the church at Colosse, as well as all members of Christ's church today. Here Paul says that Christians are to put off all these.
Put off anger, wrath, and malice. In a similar letter to the church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul also lists a number of worldly deeds that they were to "put away," which carries the same meaning as "put off" in the lesson text. These lists have a number of differences, however anger, wrath, and malice are all listed in both epistles (See Eph. 4:25-32). Before the conversion of the Christians, at both Ephesus and Colosse, these deeds were part of their everyday lives. To study them together seems appropriate because they are very similar and differ only in degree. To the Ephesians, Paul wrote, Be ye angry, and sin not (Vs. 26a). Jesus, himself tells us that to be angry without cause is sinful (Matt. 5:25). These passages indicate that all anger is not sinful. Many passages in the bible tell us of God's anger, including Numbers 32:10-15, Joshua 7:1, and Psalm 78:21-22. Jesus became angry toward the Jewish leaders for the hardness of their hearts (Mk. 3:5). Certainly overthrowing the tables of the moneychangers demonstrated Jesus' anger (Matt. 21:12-13). There is a righteous anger; a righteous indignation; a feeling of anger and displeasure that results from harm, injustice, ingratitude, or simply meanness that is demonstrated by the actions or intentions of others. Such anger should spur us to speak out against sins such as these - to demonstrate a holy anger intended to expose sin, to benefit the sinner, and to bring the sinner to repentance.
However, the sinfulness of anger comes when the heart of man desires revenge against something or someone else that has, or thought to have, brought them harm or injustice. Such is wrath. And, ultimately, when wrath leads to seeking and carrying out revenge; when it becomes a deep-seated animosity that brings delight in, or causes the harm or suffering of others, it is then termed malice. In order to lead a faithful, productive Christian life, it is necessary to put off the sinful deeds of anger, wrath, and malice!
Likewise it is necessary for Christians to put off blasphemy, filthy communication, and lying. Blasphemy is generally considered the act of contempt and irreverence shown by speaking against, slandering, or cursing the God of heaven and earth, our Creator. Blasphemy was the accusation the scribes, and other Jewish leaders, brought against Jesus because, they said that He falsely claimed to be the Son of God by forgiving and healed a man sick of the palsy (Matt. 9:2-3). The fact that these Jewish leaders did not accept Jesus as the Son of God, and openly, and bitterly, opposed Him, was of itself the most condemned form of blasphemy.
However, a closer examination of the lesson text indicates all of the deeds mentioned that are to be put off are those that are committed against other human beings. Although they are assuredly sins against God, anger, wrath, and malice, are sinful deeds expressed against others. Filthy communication and lying are also openly committed against our fellow man. In its broad sense, blasphemy can also be committed against one's family members, against friends and neighbors, against fellow Christians, and even against one's enemies. Speaking contemptuously against, or slandering the character of another is sinful, it is blasphemy, and it is a deed that must be put off by all Christians.
Communication, the words coming from one's mouth, is intended by God to be that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Eph. 4:29). It is not to be filthy communication. It is not to be indecent, vicious, lewd, or unchaste communication that will corrupt, defile, or, by example, lead others away from the will of God. Such a sin is to be put off!
Lie not one to another. Why? The lesson text tells us, because the old man of sinful deeds has been put off, and the new man of righteous deeds has been put on. Lying takes many forms. To deliberately make a false statement is lying. To give a false impression, or to fabricate an excuse, in order to deceive or mislead others is lying. To confuse an issue by making ambiguous statements in order to evade the truth is lying. Lying is also done in order to gain an unjust advantage in merchandising, trade, or other similar dealings. Lying is a sin directly attributed, by Jesus, to Satan, as the father of it (John 8:44). It is to be put off!
The deeds listed here in the lesson text, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, (and) filthy communication, are all deeds coming from the same source as lying - from Satan. All are sins that most frequently incorporate the life of the old man. Hear Paul's plea to the Colossian brethren, and, as he pleads with us today, Put off all these!