Colossians 3:5-9 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.
This is where Paul’s letter turns. He always starts out with theology and then goes on to practical demands on a Christian. A clear statement of what we are to do.
We are basically told in this section to get rid of anything that makes us self-centered, or keeps us from doing the will of God. This is done often in the New Testament in no uncertain terms. Remember Jesus saying, “If an eye causes you to sin – pluck it out!”
Something interesting I read: Paul lists the earthly vices in 2 series of 5 and we’ll see in verse 12 he lists our good deeds in another series of 5. Apparently this is derived from an old Iranian religion that listed a person’s good and bad deeds in fives. The first 5 listed go from outward acts to inward attitudes, kind of like Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
The reason covetousness is idolatry is that it sets our affections on earthly things, rather then on God and Christ. The 2nd list has to do with social attitudes. Attitudes that destroy loving social relationships.
Especially notice the reference to language: slander and foul talk with the mouth. Jesus and early church leaders placed a high premium on simple, truthful, edifying speech. (Matthew 5:33-37), (Ephesians 4:29), (James 5:12)
Someone wrote, “words are the self in extension; by them others can experience for good or ill what we are really like inside.” Our mothers were right when they said, “Before you say anything, ask: “Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”
After Paul lists the vices he writes, “upon all such things the wrath of God must fall.” This wrath of God is simply the rule of the universe. That a man will reap what he sows and no one ever escapes the consequences of his sin.