5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:5-11
In verse 5, Paul uses therefore in reference to verses 1-4 in which he laid out how their lives are now hidden with Christ in God and that they'll one day share in His glory. Since that is who they are and the future secured for them, Paul says to them Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature ... rid yourself of such things as these ... do not lie to each other.
Paul could write us the same letter. Christian, you are no longer defined by your past, your sin, your sins, none of that garbage. You belong to Christ. So put to death - put off, toss aside, kick to the curb - all of that sin. F.F. Bruce pointed out that in that first list Paul moves from overt sins to the more "hide-able" (yes, I made up that word, could you tell?) sins, the sins in our hearts and minds: lust, evil desires, greed, idolatry. We need to be actively setting these things aside, not just the sins we worry people will see if we do them, but even those no one will ever see. Why? BECAUSE (v. 10) we've put on a new self, being renewed in the image of its Creator.
Same reason applies to getting rid of the things Paul mentions in verses eight and nine, too.
I think in my past, I've read these verses and thought to myself, Alright, Heather, time to buckle down and start plucking all of the sin out of your life. Then I would try and fail within, like, 30 seconds, leaving me only with despair. In the context, however, with Paul having spent so long setting up for us Who Christ is, what He's done, how marvelous it is, how true is the Truth, I feel motivated by these verses in a refreshing, life-giving way. I might express it this way:
Hey world, guess what?! I don't belong to you anymore. I've got a new Ruler, a new King in my life. His name is Jesus. Not only is He now my Lord, but He's my Savior too. So, dark side, you have no business here. Oh yes, the wrath of God is coming to get you, your day of justice is near. But I will not be annihilated with you, because my life is hidden with Christ in God. This also means I'm going to take my sin more seriously than I ever have. I won't let it have its place anymore; when God shows me an aspect of my life that needs destroying, I'm going to get on board with His plan and work to wipe it out. Why? Because I've got a new self and I'm being renewed in the image of my Creator. And that's just plain crazy, wild, amazing, beautiful good news.
Yeah, I think I'd say it something like that.
* * *
One final closing thought about verse eleven, brought to light (again) by F.F. Bruce. Christ breaks down all the barriers. There's no superiority in the kingdom. You'll meet many who are more mature than you or gifted or trained more in certain aspects of ministry, but when it comes to the cleansing blood of Jesus, we're all equal at the foot of the cross. And in Him we find brother- and sisterhood with men and women who are very different from us, from opposite sides of the fence, so to speak, by culture's boundaries. Not only is it amazing what Christ does in our hearts as individuals, it is equally as remarkable what He does within the body of believers.
See you tomorrow!